The clear relationships on stage make the interactions of the characters much more interesting and captivating for the audience. The audience needs to know right away how one character relates to another. Whatever the relationship, whether the characters like it or not, or whether the interaction on stage is positive or negative, students need to work together to make strong choices on stage.
The next exercise challenges students to do just that: make a short scene with two characters who are connected in some way. But wrinkle is … the scene must be played without words!
1. Divide the students into pairs.
2. Give each pair a relationship for their characters, using them relationship requests. You can ask couples to pull tokens from a hat or assign a relationship to each pair.
3. Give students five minutes to prepare a short mime scene (30 seconds to a minute) that demonstrates the relationship. It is up to the students to determine what is happening on stage and how they can clearly demonstrate the relationship.
For example, if the exhortation is a small child and a kindergarten teacher, students may ask the kindergarten teacher to do a counting lesson or help the child to put on his winter clothes. They also need to consider how they will make clear choices. How would she differentiate the relationship between a toddler / kindergarten teacher and a toddler at home with their parent?
4. Remember: with mime shows, there is no speech. All actions and facial expressions must be communicated without words. Encourage students to use large gestures and many facial expressions. Make exaggerated movements. For this exercise, the bigger the better!
Decide if you want to allow students to use sounds. If you want, allow them to select a background music track.
5. After the preparation time is over, have each pair perform their mime scene for the rest of the class.
6. After each pair performs, discuss:
- Is the relationship clear? How can you tell? What evidence on stage indicated that?
- What worked well? What went wrong?
- How could students look at the relationship between the two characters in a different way?
Rehearsal exercise: If you are working on a class or school production, ask the actors to try this exercise as an acting challenge. Ask students to interpret their scenes without saying their lines – only gestures and facial expressions are allowed. Are their movements enough to tell the story?
Kerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer and stage fighter from London, Ontario, Canada. She blogs at www.kerryhishon.com.
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