Physical Theatre Techniques
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Theatre/Dance Training During COVID-19 (Chair Choreography)
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They count to three, changing who starts the count each time. For instance:. We then repeat where instead of saying 2 they clap their hands, and then also adding in instead of saying 3 they jump in the air:. I orginally got this from Mick Barnfather I think, and it seems to be used by loads of people. When the director shouts go everyone tries to stay in an equilateral triangle with their two people, so the whole group is moving around and maybe even finds equilibrium. The player who owns that T-shirt then has to caption it.
Simple as! Puns are fun, but the best ones are the bonkers ones that make no sense at all. I love words and this is a simple game where you say a word at the same time as someone else. Then all the players have to do is try and find a word in the middle of those two words, that encompasses both and say it at the same time as another player. Mind Meld. Good for physical Yes Anding. Half the class on stage stoood along the back wall. The director gets suggestions for machines tractor, typewriter, combine harvester etc and the improvisers make those machines with their bodies as one team, without talking about it.
Good for verbal Yes And. One person is telling a story. When the director claps their hands and shouts swap the other person takes over telling the story exactly where they left off, and then they continue swapping throughout the story. Trains improvisers to listen, yes and, and not plan too far ahead. Team of five improviser stood in an arc, and one improviser in front of them Story Conductor. Whoever the Story Conductor points to starts telling the story and when they point to someone else the other person takes over. Trains improvisers to listen, yes and, and play as a team. This seems to get played by everyone but I think was invented by IO, I could be wrong about that though. One person starts telling a story. I got this from Maria Peters so thank you Maria.
I have an example scene that I talk through with examples of the difference between accepting and blocking. People in pairs have simple conversations where they use the word yes lots and say yes to statements that pop up, and try to give each offers the other person would like to do. Originally learnt from Heather at The Maydays. Heidi: Yes I love extreme eating. You can also repeat it where anything the other person says they then make it happen there and then, for instance snapping to theme park mentioned above.
Also a variation is to physical act out anything that gets mentioned. Two people improvise a scene with no words, physical only, while they are underscored by a film movie soundtrack. They are directed to physically yes and, being in agreement about the physical envrionment and activity and adding to it. First learnt this from Charna Halpern at IO. One improviser does any physical action, their partner justifies what they are doing, they both agree with the established reality.
Igor: Waves arms around head wildly. Maria: Gosh the flies out here in the wilderness are deadly. Igor: I agree, we need to get to a bug spray shop immediately. This really gets the players on the same page in a fun and inventive low-pressure way. I find it a good bonding exercise too and often my students have big smiles on their faces conjuring up these false memories. Two improvisers tell a story a word at a time, with a different improviser saying each word. Very moment by moment and forces improvisers to stay present. I think this was originally invented by Keith Johnstone but now is widely used everywhere. The same as above but with a large group stood in a circle trying to make up wise sayings and proverbs a word at a time.
Two people next to each other turn and face and clap at the same time. One turns to the next person, and they also clap at the same time. This continues around the circle. If people clap twice it changes the direction, and people can also clap across the circle to someone. Gets everyone listening and in the present moment. There is something in it. Everyone in a circle. One by one other improvisers come out and become obvious things to go with that offer, until one overall united picture is formed. Five actors sat in a row. They are all the same character type, for instance they all went to school together or they all were in a space station together. Director asks them questions which they answer, and they all agree with the first answer rather than distract from it.
Coach them to say honest, real, obvious answers rather than attempting to make jokes that destroy the reality of the characters. Someone jumps into the middle of the circle. They are given a category of things to say 8 of. They say 8 things in that category as quickly as they can, with everyone shouting encouragement for each one and a round of applause at the end. Director — 8 types of holiday Brian — Skiing! Everyone — ONE! Brian — Beach! Everyone — TWO! Brian — Safari! Brian — Naked skinny dippinng holiday!
Everyone — FOUR! Brian — Cheese museum holiday! Everyone — FIVE! Brian — Weston super mare! Everyone — SIX! Brian — Staycation! Brian — Mountain climbing! Those were 8 things! Brian — Thank you Sarah — Is there anymore? Brian — Yes! Escalates his original sound and action. And it continues repeating that dialogue with the sound and action escalating. If the director says stop they stop, drop they touch the floor, walk they walk, and shuffle they shuffle along. Then the director stops saying anything and the group can shout it out when they want. Then there are no shout outs at all and the group just does magically the same thing, adjusting from walk to shuffle as they go by everyone sensing what the group wants.
Teaches everyone to be connected to the group and sense what the group needs. I got this one from Sophie Pumphrey so thank you Sophie. A nice way to get into doing scenes for the first time. People go pair by pair and improvise scenes with three lines in total. Either actor says the first line, then there is a reponse, then a response to that. Whatever is said is then wildly applauded, to help people get used to improvising in front of an audience. Later in the course we can add in variations to three line scenes: — establishing where you are — establishing character — establishing relationship — bringing in emotion and reactions.
One person leaves the room. While they are out the audience suggests why they were late for work, how they got here, and what their job is. When the person comes back they are apologising to their boss for being late while trying to guess why they were late, how they got there, and what their job is. They are helped out by four improvisers playing their friendly colleagues who are miming actions behind the boss. I like this game early in our beginners courses as it gets people on stage in front of an audience having fun, and also gets people physically yes anding each other.
A fun game of swapping channels on an imaginary TV set. Two or three actors on back line, two others stood in front, all facing the audience. The two closest to the audience are the TV channel we are watching. If we say Pan Left they all move around one place so that we have a new TV channel at the front. Split everyone into groups of 5 or so. They have 5 minutes to find a song they all now, practice singing it, and invent and rehearse a dance routine to go with it. At the end of the 5 minutes each group performs their piece, but also another group then gets up and immediately copies what they just saw.
As Mick Barnfather who we learnt this from : No problem! I usually get my Beginners students to play this in the second week of their course. I think physical theatre is a very dynamic way of exploring a subtext in any kind of context. It actually embraces a whole range of dynamic choreography. And so this production had to bring the audience into the mind of Christopher Boone, we had to see the world from his point of view. Marianne Elliot — Director. I asked Steve Hoggett to get involved because I knew it would be very physical and we wanted to make it emotional and poetic and interesting without it being realistic. That means that you show things in a way that is physical rather than somebody actually walks through the door, or puts the key in the door and opens it, then puts the key on the side.
You actually do something which is much more gestural. It is a surprisingly difficult thing to achieve quite simple movements because they have to be very exact and it has to be properly thought out, it has to be on exactly the right beat. London UK Tour. Wycombe Swan Theatre 17th May - 21st May Churchill Theatre, Bromley 31st May - 4th June A dazzling and pulse-pounding drama Time Out New York.