Drama Activities (Acting)

Name of the Activity:  Speed Friending

Type of Warmup/Activity: Acting/ Improvisation

Reason For Choosing: I love improv games because they translate nicely into on-stage skills. Further, if an actor forgets a line, it is absolutely necessary to improv on stage least the play come to a grinding halt. This game in particular (and its variations) helps student’s improv in a safer environment that in front of an audience. It is a very easy going game but can be a lot of fun for the students (especially if you include the variations like I do). This also is a great starting activity because it allows the students to get to know one another’s name and it begins the transition into the “safer” environment of a drama classroom (in which a few, but not all, students may be familiar with).

Skills Used: Voice, Movement, Improvisation, Creativity, Spontaneity, Communication

Procedure: Break the students into two equal lines facing one another (each person should have a corresponding partner across from them). The students begin by introducing themselves and telling their partner something about themselves (A true statement) (Ex for myself: I rodeo and am a steer wrestler). After both students have gone the lines shift one to the left (with the ends going to the other side of the line Ex. line “A” to line “B”). This pattern continues until either all students are introduced or a certain amount of time has passed (for very large groups). The activity can either end at this step or can develop into many of the variations to this activity.

Variations:

  1. Once everyone has been introduced, the corresponding partner then introduces you to the class (Ex. This is my partner ___. They like ___. (whatever has been said is what the partner says)).
  2. Instead of simply saying one thing to your partner, each partner plays two truths and a lie and the other partner has to try and guess what the lie is.
  3. Have students create characters (or bring in existing ones) and introduce themselves as these characters (Ex. My name is Barney. I like being a big purple dinosaur, My name is Bob spelt backwards. I like eating my cereal with a fork, etc…) Try and get them to create voices and movements of these characters as well.
  4. Give the students a task that they must complete during each interaction (Ex. take off your shoe and sniff it). This makes the game very silly and gets students out of their comfort zones while simultaneously making them more comfortable with one another.

Components:

  1. Creative/ Productive- This activity is an active exploration, development, and expression of ideas through improvisational activities.
  2. Cultural/ Historical- Students have to come prepared with a character from history and introduce themselves as that character (great for character development) (Ex. Albert Einstein, Karl Marx, Freddie Mercury, etc…)
  3. Critical/ Responsive- Write a journal entry about the new friends/ new information about the students in the class that you learnt about after this activity.

Cross Curricular Competencies (Or Common Essential Learnings):

Communication -creating opportunities for students to express their ideas in a variety of ways, allowing them to learn from other students’ thinking and to demonstrate their present understanding
  -planning learning experiences that allow students to draw upon their first-language skills in order to further their understanding and present this understanding to others
  – having students use expressive language (spoken, written and non-verbal) in order to explore ideas carefully and conscientiously

 

Critical and Creative Thinking – allowing for differing expression and interpretation of assignments, and encouraging imaginative responses

 

Outcomes:                                              Indicators:

Develop self-confidence self-discipline

and self-motivation

– develop a sense of responsibility to other members of the class
  – feel secure in the class

 

Acquire understandings and abilities in group processes – co-operate with others in groups of various sizes to plan and participate in drama experiences

 

Develop acting skills – accept and respond to others in role
  – develop increasing commitment to their own roles and the roles of others
  – express themselves confidently through speech

 

Understand the role of drama in

various cultures, past and present

– understand that theatre, past and

present, can teach us about ourselves

 

 

 

Name of the Activity:  What are you doing?

Type of Warmup/Activity: Acting/ Improvisation

Reason For Choosing: I like this game because it makes the students think quickly on their feet. Further, what they are saying and what they are doing is completely different which is counterintuitive for people to think about. This requires the students to think outside the box while having fun in a rapid fire elimination environment. Generally, elimination games work well to make the students who do not exactly like the activity to participate because they don’t want to be eliminated from the group (not the best to do all the time though). This activity is exciting and fosters concentration, creativity, and spontaneity.

Skills Used: Voice, Movement, Improvisation, Creativity, Spontaneity, Concentration

Procedure: Have students stand in a line (a circle works best for bigger groups). One student begins by starting an “activity” (Ex. Brushing their teeth, drumming, doing the dishes, etc…). The next person in line asks the person: “What are you doing?”

While still doing their previous activity (ex. brushing their teeth), the person says something that is completely different than what they are doing (Ex. “Getting into a suit of armor”).

The person who asked “What are you doing?” now immediately begins whatever the previous person said (In our example above- Getting into a suit of armor).

The next person in line then askes “What are you doing?” and the person getting into the armor would create a new activity such as “washing my car”. The student that asked “What are you doing?” then immediately starts washing a car.

This goes so on and so forth until someone messes up. You are out if:

  1. You say what you are actually doing (Ex. says washing car while washing a car)
  2. You don’t follow the correct order of wording (Ex. saying an activity before asking what the other person is doing)
  3. You take too long to think of something/ hesitate.
  4. You cannot think of something different to be doing
  5. You stop doing the activity while thinking or saying a new activity to be doing
  6. You say something that has already been done (Ex. a second washing a car would be out in our demonstration but washing my face would still be okay)

Variations:

  1. Connect a theme to make it a little harder for everyone if they are finding it too easy (Ex. in a horror movie, on/ by the beach, etc…). If they say an activity that isn’t connected to the theme, then they are out.

Components:

  1. Creative/ Productive- This activity requires students to have to think on their feet. It is a rapid paced exploration, development, and expression of ideas through improvisational activities.
  2. Cultural/ Historical- Connect the theme to historical events (ex. WWI or WWII, etc…). Students will have to recall the event and use their own prior knowledge for the exercise.
  3. Critical/ Responsive- Discuss how easy or hard it was for the students to say something contrary to what they are actually doing. Journal your personal struggle or success.

Cross Curricular Competencies (Or Common Essential Learnings):

Communication -organizing instruction which allows students to bring forward prior knowledge and/or to make connections with other school learning
  – creating opportunities for students to express their ideas in a variety of ways, allowing them to learn from other students’ thinking and to demonstrate their present understanding

 

Critical and Creative Thinking -allowing for differing expression and interpretation of assignments, and encouraging imaginative responses

 

Personal and Social Values and Skills – providing opportunities for students to respond to and build upon the ideas of others

 

Outcomes:                                              Indicators:

Acquire increased knowledge of others, themselves and the world around them – recall and respond to drama experiences

 

 

Develop self-confidence self-discipline

and self-motivation

– concentrate during drama experiences

 

 

Develop an understanding of the processes and elements involved in creating works of dramatic art – offer ideas in spontaneous improvisations

-accept ideas in spontaneous improvisations

 

 

Develop acting skills – express themselves confidently

through movement and gesture

– display clarity of movement and

gesture

 

 

Name of the Activity:  Imaginary Objects/ Objects in a Room

Type of Warmup/Activity: Acting/ Improvisation (Mime)

Reason For Choosing: This is a very interesting exercise because the group is working together to build an imaginary room filled with imaginary objects. It is interesting to see the variety of objects the students bring into the center and how they interact with the objects once they are in the room. It is also a great mime activity and, if used at the start of a miming unit and then again at the end, you get to see the progress the students have made in being more clear within their movements especially within the miming scenarios.

Skills Used: Movement, Creativity, Spontaneity, Focus, Miming

Procedure: The group sits in a large circle (or a square/ rectangle for easy visualization of a room). Explain that in this area is a room. Students create an object that they are about to put in this room (Ex. a tv, a bottle of bubbles, C4 (seems to be a common one), etc…).

Once they have their “object”, one student at a time will have to find a way to enter the room (This can be done by creating a door, window, cutting a hole, etc…) and drop off their “object” WITHOUT TALKING (Mime!) (noises can be allowed to an extent Ex. Grunts if pushing a heavy object). Note- Once an entrance is established (mimed), the rest of the students can use this entry or create their own.

Students have to mime placing the object within the room. It is important to be very clear on what your object is and how you interact with the object (Ex. if you are bringing a bag of bricks into the room, you would not be carrying them lightly or in one hand). Therefore, it is important to stay true to the object you are bringing as well as everyone else’s objects within the room. Further, students must use their physicality to show the audience (their peers) what it is they are bringing into the room.

The difficult part is that once an object is placed within this room, all other students have to be mindful of those items within the room (Ex. If someone pushes a piano into the middle of the room then everyone else will have to move around the “piano” in the room being aware of where the object would be placed). Students can interact with the items/objects within the room as well.

Once they have placed their object, the student can leave the room and the next person goes (keeping in mind all the previous objects within the room).

Variations:

  1. Instead of simply putting an object in the room and leaving, students may be required to interact with at least one or two of the objects within the room (whether they were put there by students or there “before” the activity).
  2. Students are partnered and have to place/ interact with an object(s) together.

Components:

  1. Creative/ Productive- This activity once again deals with the exploration, development, and expression of ideas through improvisational activities.
  2. Cultural/ Historical- Create a room from a particular time period in history and have students bring in objects that are period appropriate (Ex. Beowulf’s Banquet Hall, etc…).
  3. Critical/ Responsive- Discuss the success or failures of the class in recognizing one another’s objects, whether they stayed true to the room’s ever-changing environment, and/ or their interactions with objects within the room.

Cross Curricular Competencies (Or Common Essential Learnings):

Numeracy -planning experiences which help students develop an intuitive sense of measurement
  – designing learning experiences which develop spatial concepts, such as proportion, symmetry and distance
  – planning activities to help students learn spatial relationships

 

Personal and Social Values and Skills – providing opportunities for students to respond to and build upon the ideas of others

 

Critical and Creative Thinking – planning opportunities for students to think in images and to manipulate visual images for the solutions to a problem.

 

Outcomes:                                              Indicators:

Develop acting skills – display clarity of movement and gesture
  – express themselves confidently through movement and gesture
  – use movement to communicate nonverbally

 

Understand the role of drama in various cultures, past and present – understand that through theatre history they can discover various acting/ presentational styles

 

Acquire understandings and abilities

in group processes

-co-operate with others in groups of various sizes to plan and participate in drama experiences
  – listen to the ideas of others

 

 

Name of the Activity:  Freeze/ Switch

Type of Warmup/Activity: Acting/Improvisation

Reason For Choosing: This is another classic drama game that helps promote creativity and spontaneity. Most students love this game and will be more than enthusiastic to participate (if not, see variations). This activity is a good all-encompassing exercise because it allows all manners of voice and movement to be used. It also works well as a character builder by allowing students to test ideas in a safe, judgement free, and “anything goes” environment (to within reason). Furthermore, this activity can help spark ideas for scenes or monologues if the students are in need of ideas.

Skills Used: Voice, Movement, Improvisation, Creativity, Spontaneity, Communication

Procedure: Note- It is important to establish improv rules before doing this activity because it helps set the parameters of the activity with the students. It also allows them to better understand the structure of this activity and improv itself. The five rules of improv that I think are great for students to understand are as follows: (Bad Examples on the left and Good Examples on the right)

  1. Yes and…- students should always go with an idea within a scene and never block/say no to it because that stops the scene. They should build upon the ideas by saying yes and then adding something else

Ex. A- Our café is the best!                 Vs.                   A- Our café is the best!

B- No it isn’t.                                                               B- Yes and our milkshakes bring all the boys to the yard

  1. Listen– students have to listen to what their partners are presenting within the scene.

Ex. A- I think I broke my leg               Vs.                   A- I think I broke my leg

B- Ok, time to run on the treadmill                  B- I guess we can’t run on the treadmill

  1. Build up your partner– students have to support their partner within the scene rather than drag them down.

Ex. A- I am the best baker in the world    Vs.              A- I am the best baker in the world

B- More like the most average baker                        B- Your buns are superb! I want another!

  1. Have fun/ take risks– Enjoy improv. You are meant to have fun and should be treated as an opportunity to explore new areas for you.

Ex.- A- I think we should jump!             Vs.                A- I think we should jump!

B- Ok. (*Hops in the air) What now?                          B- OK! (*Both actors fall to the ground and pretend to skydive) Wee!

  1. Establish the where and the who (tell a story)– make a story out of the small scene you are in. The audience will appreciate it more and it will be more understandable.

Ex. A- This is scary. I can’t go on!      Vs.       A- This war is scary. I can’t go on!

B- We need you to shoot though!                    B- But you are the best shot in our platoon!

To begin the activity: The group forms a circle and two people are randomly picked to begin (can volunteer as well). The two people go to the middle of the circle and strike a pose. They then begin a dialogue about anything they so choose (Ex. working at a bakery, fighting off zombies, etc…), while using their voice and movement to drive the small scene.

At any point within this improv scene, a group member can yell out freeze (or switch if you prefer) and both actors within the circle freeze. The person that yelled freeze comes into the circle and tags out one of the actors and assumes the exact position they were in before they were tagged out. They then begin a completely different topic, thus, changing the scene completely (ex. from bakers to professional rock paper scissors players, etc…). It is important to try to get everyone involved so if there are students that are very eager to try an idea then perhaps they could share that with one of the students that is not as keen.

Variations:

  1. If students are not jumping in, the teacher can yell freeze and tag someone in.
  2. Create a theme that the students have to incorporate to the activity (ex. at a beach, at the gym, at a haunted campground, etc…).

Components:

  1. Creative/ Productive- This activity is an active exploration, development, and expression of ideas through improvisational mini-scenes.
  2. Cultural/ Historical- Have the students research a character from history/ culture that they bring into this exercise. They then put this character on the spot in different situations that are continuously switched around. This helps students solidify their character by making them flesh out the character through having them try and tap into their thoughts and emotions about being caught up in the different scenarios presented within this improv.
  3. Critical/ Responsive- Discuss what worked and what didn’t work in the improv session. Where ideas expressed clearly or where they muddled? Where the actors using improv rules or were they blocking/saying no?

Cross Curricular Competencies (Or Common Essential Learnings):

Communication – creating opportunities for students to express their ideas in a variety of ways, allowing them to learn from other students’ thinking and to demonstrate their present understanding
  – casting himself or herself in the role of observer and listener in order to gather students’ ideas to better plan future learning experiences
Critical and Creative Thinking -allowing for differing expression and interpretation of assignments, and encouraging imaginative responses
Personal and Social Values and Skills -exploring the themes, characters and conflicts in improvisations, collective creations and plays to foster greater understanding of various cultures, to develop understanding of people and to develop an awareness of discrimination or bias when present

Outcomes:                                              Indicators:

Acquire understandings and abilities

in group processes

-co-operate with others in groups of various sizes to plan and participate in drama experiences
Develop self-confidence self-discipline

and self-motivation

-develop a sense of responsibility to other members of the class
  -feel secure in the class

 

Develop an understanding of the processes and elements involved in creating works of dramatic art -offer/ accept ideas in spontaneous improvisations

-understand the importance of the elements of focus, tension, contrast and symbol to all works of dramatic art

 

 

Name of the Activity:  Party Quirks

Type of Warmup/Activity: Acting/Improvisation

Reason For Choosing: I love this activity because it is an immense amount of fun and students always love it. Even the students that generally are not as eager to participate are drawn into the silliness and sometimes difficulty of this exercise. It is also more recognizable because it was featured on Whose Line Is It Anyway? and students can watch some of that to help boost their own ideas previous (or after) the exercise. This activity allows the students to begin an exploration into the building of a character as well as the “ticks” that many of us have (Ex. a greaser that is always slicking his hair back with a comb). This activity is an excellent accumulation of voice, movement, and acting skills translated into a quick character within a short improv scene.

Skills Used: Voice, Movement, Improvisation, Creativity, Spontaneity, Communication

Procedure: (Create a list of different characters for the students to portray- see attached list)

One student is designated as the party host. They have to try improv preparing a party for their guests (Ex. putting chips in a bowl, baking cookies, blowing balloons etc…) while the guests create/pick their character. The host also has the responsibility of letting in the guests and then trying to guess who they are, what their ailment is, or what “thing” they are (Ex. Donald Trump, a cowboy, claustrophobic, an angry thundercloud, etc…).

Approximately three students create (or pick from a hat) different characters that are “invited” to the party. The students have to embody their choice to try and make it understandable to the audience and the host (Ex. a man turning into a werewolf is different than simply being a dog). The party host generally will ask questions about their guest to try and figure out what they are (Ex. How did you get to the party?, What type of food do you like to eat?, What is your favorite thing about parties?, etc…). The guests do not leave the party until the host has correctly guessed their character (or close enough to ex. Saddle Bronc Rider for cowboy).

Variations:

  1. If students are finding it too easy to guess characters, make it more difficult by adding qualities or characteristics such as Elegance, Warmth, and/ or Perseverance.

Components:

  1. Creative/ Productive- This activity is an active exploration, development, and expression of ideas through improvisational scenes.
  2. Cultural/ Historical- Only give historical/cultural figures as characters (ex. Albert Einstein, Ghandi, George Washington, ALEXANDER HAMILTON (there’s a million things he hasn’t done…), William Shakespeare, Wendigo (Cree culture), Gautama Buddha, Jesus, etc…)
  3. Critical/ Responsive- Discuss what made the guests successful in portraying character or what could be improved. Journal about the individuals attempt and what they were try to portray within their character.

Cross Curricular Competencies (Or Common Essential Learnings):

Communication – organizing instruction which allows students to bring forward prior knowledge and/or to make connections with other school learning
  – casting himself or herself in the role of observer and listener in order to gather students’ ideas to better plan future learning experiences
Personal and Social Values and Skills -exploring the themes, characters and conflicts in improvisations, collective creations and plays to foster greater understanding of various cultures, to develop understanding of people and to develop an awareness of discrimination or bias when present
Independent Learning – encouraging use of resources both inside and outside the school by inviting dramatic artists to the classroom, collecting newspaper clippings, using magazine articles,

visiting theatres, viewing plays and television shows or news reports, etc.

  -providing time for students to share in class what they have discovered at home about a particular concept that was introduced in the Drama class.

Outcomes:                                              Indicators:

Develop acting skills – assume and sustain roles
  – develop increasing commitment to their own roles and the roles of others
  -express themselves confidently (and clearly) through movement and gesture
  -express themselves confidently through speech

 

Exercise critical thought and support opinions when responding to dramatic presentations -develop an understanding of how plays

are made

 

 

Understand the role of drama in

various cultures, past and present

-understand that today’s dramatic artists are influenced by various theatre traditions

 

  -understand that theatre can influence the society in which it is created


(A Few) Party Quirks Options

  • Slowly turning into a werewolf
  • Afraid of People
  • Neat Freak
  • Gets Angry Easily
  • Cries Easily
  • Overactive
  • Paranoid
  • Needs Attention
  • Incredibly Talkative
  • Jock
  • Steals Food
  • Always Sings Christmas Songs
  • Gossip
  • A Baby Learning to Walk
  • Moves in Slow Motion
  • Repeats People’s Names a Lot
  • Thinks Everything was Harder Back when He or She was a Child
  • Always Agrees
  • Always Disagrees
  • Terrified of Germs
  • Only Speaks Three Words at a Time
  • Always Dancing
  • Talks Like a Pirate
  • No Short Term Memory
  • Pick Pocket
  • Extremely Conceited
  • Obsessed with Astronomy
  • Obsessed with Pets
  • Airhead
  • Claustrophobic
  • Loves the Environment
  • Has Poison Ivy All Over
  • Wizard
  • Vampire that faints at the sight of blood
  • Cowboy or Cowgirl
  • Person who thinks he/she is a cat
  • Michael Jackson afraid it is Thriller Night
  • Donald Trump
  • An Angry Thundercloud
  • Astronaut with an alien inside of him
  • Slowly turning into the Hulk
  • Mime having a heart attack
  • Fish being caught and reeled in
  • Thinks every bump is an earthquake
  • In a kayak going down white water rapids
  • Part of the Jamaican bobsled team
  • A fly
  • Stuntman
  • The evolution of a tadpole into becoming a frog
  • Famous Hockey Player
  • Always has an idea but then immediately forgets it
  • Addicted to coffee
  • A sloth
  • Afraid of a specific word (ex. party)
  • A little teacup trying to get poured out
  • Has to sniff everything
  • Ends every sentence with an upward inflection hinting at a question (Ex. Bees?)
  • Continuously checking the time (watch, clock, phone, etc..)
  • Can’t stop touching people’s faces
  • Tries to hold everyone’s hand without them noticing
  • Interrupts people regularly
  • Over pronounces their words (every word is articulated fully)
  • Keeps mispronouncing everyone’s name/ town/ food item
  • Continuously sweating
  • Only drinks out of a straw (food has to be blended so he can eat it through his straw)
  • Keeps singing songs from the rap musical Alexander Hamilton
  • Always asks how much it will cost and tries to pay in nickels
  • Trying to recruit everyone into their cult
  • Speaks almost exclusively in movie, TV, and/or music quotes
  • Any celebrity, movie or TV character, musicians, etc…
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One thought on “Drama Activities (Acting)

  1. Hey Kashtin!
    WOW! What an amusing and intensive blog!
    You have many many wonderful ideas that would work in many classes. I could definitely see the ‘speed friending’ work as a great introduction piece… especially for new grade 9 students. You activities would surely make students feel more comfortable around each others. The grade 6 class in my field experience class did a type of ‘party quirk’ activity in their drama class. They loved it!

    Like

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