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Pantomime Improvisations: Classroom Drama Game

written by: Beth Taylor • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 3/2/2012

This drama game is both useful on its own and is a necessary part of leading students in the process of dramatizing and developing stories for performance.

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    Simple Action Pantomimes

    Getting your students to improvise together is the most vital step in this workshop series. In order to keep them focused on their movements, start with pantomime.

    At first, the students can perform simple actions one at a time. Volunteers can pick a card with a simple action out of a hat. The rest of the group can try to guess what the volunteer is doing.

    As your class progresses with this exercise, encourage them to include all of the elements of the action. For example, the person brushing her teeth should pick up the toothbrush, not just start brushing teeth. Beginning pantomimes often suddenly have things, or drop those things into thin air when they are done with them. The tooth brusher needs to visualize the sink, pick up the toothbrush, pick up toothpaste, put the toothpaste onto the toothbrush, place the toothpaste back down (not just drop it!) and so on. As your students catch on, they may help each other remember these things and more.

    Here are a few simple action ideas to get you started:

    * Brushing teeth

    * Driving a car

    * Tying a shoe

    * Hailing a taxi

    * Typing.

    Once students are acting out the details of their pantomimes, they are ready for join-ins.

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    Join-Ins- Short Pantomimes

    Join-Ins are short pantomimes in which one student starts an action and another student, or a succession of students, joins in the pantomime. The actors are not allowed to talk during this exercise. The important skills in this activity are communication, cooperation, quick thinking, and improvisation.

    I prefer to write down ideas on index cards, and have volunteers pick one from a hat. The volunteer begins to pantomime the action. As other students understand what she is doing, they can one-by-one enter the scene.

    It is important to instruct students to think about ways they can help or positively enhance the action on stage. Otherwise, many scenes will end up as some form of combat (for example, shoveling snow will turn into a snowball fight.)

    It is also good to remind students to show everything they can in their pantomimes. For example, if a girl is shoveling snow but does not seem cold, perhaps she is shoveling dirt or coal. As the students repeat this exercise, you can expect to see improvements.

    Here is a list of possible Join-In suggestions; feel free to use these and add your own:

    * Fishing

    * Painting a mural

    * Flipping pancakes

    * Building a fire

    * Giving a speech.

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    Best Additional Resources

    These are great resources available at bookstores.

    Pantomimes 101: Pantomime - Pantomimes - Pantomiming

    The Art of Pantomime

    Pantomime: A Practical Guide


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