Having just watched the Emmy Awards, it seems like actors are on my mind a lot.
You may not know that I studied acting many long years ago. I was at a Method Acting school, Ensemble Studios, with Hayes Gordon. I tend to think that Stanislavski’s Method is more accurately a method of teaching Acting than a way of Acting. However I might be in the minority on that.
The foundation of learning the Method is improvising, but we also studied how to break down scripts into Actions (which means expressing the character’s intentions towards others not physical movement), and how to apply the different improvisations to characterizations.
Acting is defined as “having a genuine emotional response to imaginary stimuli”. In Acting classes we learnt and practiced numerous techniques for generating the stimuli. Most of them were essentially games – mental and physical play.
There is one game that actors call “The Game”. You probably know it better by its civilian name – Charades. Actors play The Game to warm up the mind and body, to practice quick thinking, and to spark their creativity.
Other acting exercises I remember are Moving like an Animal, Treating Like (people feel like how they are treated even when it is unspoken), and the guessing game Who Am I, where the audience (the guessers) ask questions like “if you were a car what kind would you be?” It’s great for sparking creative thinking both in the subject and the audience. Plus it can be played by as few as two people.
Here are some websites with acting games and exercises that can be turned into group activities. Some of these sites may have similar games repeated.
Ace Your Audition – most of these foster quick thinking under pressure
University of Wisconsin – drama department.
Some of these games are written for kids. Playing acting games with your children is a great way to start without feeling self conscious. Kids are always ready to be silly and laugh out loud.
- Don’t forget Charades! The holidays are coming up, all those family gatherings.