The teen years are a time of emotional volatility, peer pressure and insecurity, but getting involved with theater can help students combat these negative factors. Incorporating drama games as part of a teen acting group can create trust between students, drawing them out of their comfort zones to develop greater confidence for performing. Choosing games that develop movement and emotion can help you create a fun, safe environment for introducing teenagers to acting.
The Interrupted Conversation
Improvised skits can help teens feel comfortable performing in front of others and adapting to the circumstances of a scene. At the start of the skit, give two students a conflict their characters are dealing with and have them act out their discussion. Midway through the scene, a third student will enter and deliver a piece of news that changes the tone of their interaction. For example, the two characters' argument about the towel one of them left on the bathroom floor could become trivial when the third student informs one of them that his father has been rushed to the hospital with a heart attack.
The Shape-Shifting Chair
Pantomiming exercises focus on helping students develop control of their body movement and adapt it to different situations, settings and emotions. To practice this skill, give each student a chair and instruct them to sit on them and interact with them according to the type of chair and its location. For example, students might pantomime sitting on a throne, in a movie theater watching a horror film, on a roller coaster or in a courtroom witness stand. This will challenge students to move their bodies in appropriate ways to each situation and express corresponding emotions using only movement, not words.
The Lie Detector
Many summer camps and student groups use the game Two Truths and a Lie as a way for teens to get to know each other, but it can also be used in acting classes to help students control their emotions and lie while being convincing. Each student around the circle in turn introduces himself by sharing three facts about himself -- one of which is a lie. The rest of the group must then guess which bit of information was untrue. To challenge the students to be convincing, instruct them to choose unique facts, such as interesting places they've traveled, unusual hobbies or famous people they've met.
The Object of Creation
Students can practice movement, expression and teamwork as they cooperate in groups to create objects with their bodies. Divide the students into groups of four to six, and then announce the name of an object or animal. The students then have 10 seconds to work together to depict it in a frozen tableau. For example, one group might form a camel by having four students play the legs and form humps with their raised arms and hands, while a fifth plays the neck and head. Position the groups in the classroom or on the stage so they can see each others' creations when the time is up.
- Broadway Bound Fund: Knocking on Shakespeare's Door: Drama with Teens for Personal and Social Development
- Youth Peer Education Network: Theatre-Based Techniques for Youth Peer Education: A Training Manual
- Primary Resources: Drama Warm-Ups and Games
- Drama Resource: Two Truths, One Lie
- Drama Resource: Ten Second Objects
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