Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Artist Toolbox: Theatre Whispers (Telephone)


As well as being hilarious, this is a great activity for practicing precise, expressive movement scores.

We have just started a unit on masks and I decided to use one of my favourite exercises as a lead into the unit and I found that it was of great use in explaining some key points- Theatre Whispers
based on the popular game Telephone or Chinese Whispers

Start by arranging your participants into a line running away from the stage with their backs turned to it. You probably don't want more than 10 people taking part each time as there is a bit of waiting time between turns. The rest of your group who aren't participating can watch the hilarity unfold.

The first participant in the line turns around and watches while you mime a story out on the stage. Something simple, like walking the dog and picking up poop, or posting a letter then realising too late that it doesn't have a stamp on it. The story should have some clear details but not be too long.

Once you finish the story, the first participant repeats it exactly, action for action, while the second person watches and tries to learn the score. Then they repeat it for the third and so on...

Usually what happens is that by the time you reach the end of the line, the participants before have forgotten parts, or reproduced them in a different or sloppy way and the action has completely changed. After the final participant has reproduced the score, show them the original and all together you can laugh about how different it is.

 As well as running this game just for fun, it's also great for focusing on precision as participants try to copy the movements exactly, focusing on elements like their facial expressions, tension in the muscles and trying not to imprint their own personal characteristics on the score. You can even stop/start the exercise and ask the audience to comment on what is changing.

And when someone showering becomes someone dancing, or someone drinking in a disco becomes someone eating a steak dinner, it's very funny!

Finally, here are some simple story ideas that you can use for starting points:
-a farmer trying to catch a chicken which has escaped
-waking up, doing a workout and then showering
-burying a treasure chest
-making a fried breakfast
-sitting in a disco waiting to be asked to dance, then dancing
-walking the dog, not picking up its poop, walking around the block and then standing in the poop on the way back
-posting a letter, realising it's missing something and trying to break the postbox open to get it back
-making a packed lunch, packing your school bag and leaving the house


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