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Why Start a Drama Club


									                               Why Start a Drama Club?

                                     By: Sheri Burke

       The first thing that you must consider when making the decision to start a drama

club is: What is your reason for wanting a drama club? Some reasons should include:

      children being able to gain effective communication skills

      children being able to share emotional conflict through the acting process

      Children growing towards becoming more disciplined and responsible

      Children having fun and using their imagination!

Meet With Your Principal

   Since there are different rules for every building you will now need to meet with your

principal to ask him/her for direction on beginning the process. You will probably need

to fill out a co-curricular form that would state your reasons for wanting a drama club in

the school and what value it would bring to the students. The form would then be turned

in to the Building Council or a Building Group and they will either approve or disapprove

it. That process normally takes two weeks. It is a good idea to begin the process in

September, so you will have plenty of practice time if you decide to perform a play at the

end of the school year.

Dates & Times

       It’s important to have set times and dates for your club. An hour seems to be an

appropriate fit for elementary age students. We set our club meeting dates for the first

and third Tuesday of each month, from 3:00 to 4:00 starting in October.

Group Size

       You will need to decide how large of a group that you want to work with. If it is

just you, eight to ten students is a good size group. If more than that you will probably

want a partner and then up to twenty is fine, so you can split apart and each take a group

and work together with all.


       Be sure to advertise your club! You will need to create a brochure/application

that students will take home to read over and fill out with their parents stating the dates

times and expectations. By having the parents sign the form, they are also stating that

they will pick their child up from drama club at 4:00 (or whatever time your club is over)

each time, and it gives you their phone number and an emergency number. On the

brochure, also create an area where the student has to write a paragraph about why they

want to be in Drama Club. This will help you to decide who really wants to be there and

why, in case you get a lot of applications.

The First Couple of Meetings

         The first meeting hour time will flew by just with introductions, so I have

included some getting to know each other games as well as improve and tableau to get

you started. There are numerous sources on the internet as well as books like Theater

Games for the Classroom: A Teacher's Handbook by Viola Spolin and Theatre Games

for Young Performer by Maria Novelly.

         The second meeting you will probably want to split into two groups, an acting

group and an audience group. Each group will have a turn to be both. The actors are

given a slip of paper with their acting assignment on it and have time to prepare (5

minutes) while the audience practices what a good audience looks and sounds like.

Students become different characters; a mailman delivering mail, a skydiver, a baker, a

taxicab driver, etc. The audience has to guess and then give one compliment about the


Getting to Know Lines & Characters

         After implementing the theatre games and improvisation skills, you will want to

progress into having the children begin to read short stories that they know, such as The

Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs, etc. and break into groups to act these out. The

directions are also included below.

The Big Finale

       You should be prepared to start looking at some scripts and plan on presenting

and staging a show for your students, staff, and family members. This should happen

about March or April, depending on how ready you think your students are. Make it a

small manageable project that can be well rehearsed and presented with confidence. You

want to present a piece of drama that means something to you and all the participants - in

other words: make it a relevant, self-motivated and fun performance for your group!

Honey, I Motivated the Kids!

       By integrating drama club into your school, your children will experience the

following; personal fulfillment, creating or inventing, observing or analyzing, and

performing or viewing the arts. The students will begin to build feelings and

understanding about artistic creation and how we can be the deliverer of that to others. It

will fulfill the need to both enrich areas of strength and nourish areas of weakness.

       So that Drama Club students will learn to appreciate not only their work, but their

classmates as well, give them opportunities to present themselves through dance, poetry,

as well as drama. They will learn to critique others work and to give encouragement and

praise. Through the process of acting to learn a new concept, the students will gain

confidence, self-esteem, cooperation skills, and teamwork skills. The students will

discover a connection between music, visual art, dance, literature, storytelling, drama,

and the real world. One idea is to let your students put scripts together about things that

happen at school, such as playground bullying and incorporate them into one act plays.

They can talk about how they can present these plays to other grade levels. You have a

responsibility to your drama learners: be motivated, have energy, be on time and above

all share your love of acting with them. When other students and staff see the creative

energy, team work, and fun you are all having, they will want to join.

         And Now, Let’s Get Ready For a Really Big Show!           Break a Leg!

                                     Theatre Games

Materials: None

Explanation: A game for the first day of class, so that everyone learns each others’
How to Play: The participants sit or stand in a circle. The leader says, "We are having a
party, and everyone has to bring something for the party that begins with the same first
letter as their name. My name is JANINE, and I am bringing a bag of JELLYBEANS." The
person to the leader’s right says his name and item, and then repeats the leader’s name
and item: "My name is ERIK, I am going to bring EGG SALAD. This is JANINE, who is
bringing JELLYBEANS." Each person in turn introduces himself, announces their item,
and repeats the name and item of everyone who preceded them. This means that the last
person has to remember everyone in the group, or at least try. The leader should
encourage others to help out when participants get stuck on someone’s name or item,
with verbal or pantomimed clues.

NAME GAME #2 **Gesture Circle
Materials: None

Explanation: Participants learn each other’s names with the help of gestures.
How to Play: Participants stand in a circle and each person in turn says their name, at the
same time executing a gesture that expresses their personality. For younger participants,
the leader can suggest that the gesture shows a favorite animal, sport or activity. After
everyone has shared their name and gesture, the participants play "tag" with the names
and gestures. While standing still, the participants can tag each other one at a time by
saying a person’s name and repeating their gesture. The leader should encourage the

participants to get to everyone’s name without repeats, so that all members of the group
are included.

Materials: A piece of fabric, about a yard square, solid color or pattern

Explanation: This game stimulates imagination by encouraging multiple answers for the
same question.
How to Play: Participants stand in a circle. The leader shows the fabric to the
participants, saying "What could this piece of fabric be? We’re going to pass it around
the circle and each of you will show us something that it could become." The leader
demonstrates, turning the fabric into something (for suggestions, see list below) and
stating what it is. The fabric is passed from person to person, with each participant
sharing an idea. If an idea is repeated, such as "a hat", the leader asks the participant to be
more specific (a turban, a bonnet), thereby making the participant come up with their own
idea. If the number of participants is small enough, the fabric can travel around the circle
twice. A variation on this game is to limit the ideas to a category such as clothing, or
things that are the color of the fabric.
Notes: Here are some of the answers to the question, although the possibilities are
     A Superman cape
     A Diaper
     A Magic carpet
     A Flag
     A Picnic blanket
     A Dog’s leash
     A Toga ("One of those things they wore in Greece" was the original description)
     A Leg cast
     A Wig

Materials: None

Explanation: Participants try to think of as many things as they can that fit into a
particular category.
How to Play: Participants sit in a circle and begin a one-two rhythm (Clap-snap, or slap
(legs)-clap). One person says, in rhythm, "I am thinking of ….." whatever the category is,
and then says something that fits the category. On the second beat after the first person,
the second person says something that fits the category, and so on around the circle.
"I-am-thinking-of-kinds-of-fruits" (Clap) "Apple"

(Clap) "Orange"
(Clap) "Strawberries"
(Clap) "Banana"
(Clap) "Watermelon"
Everyone continues this process until someone gets stuck or repeats an item. When this
happens, the participants can either start over with a new category, keeping the person
who got stuck in the circle, or the person who got stuck could be "out" and the same
category could be repeated until there is only one person left. If everyone stays in, the
leader could time the participants to see for how long they can continue.
Notes: The category chosen depends on the ages and interests of the participants. A
younger, less experienced group could play for a while with a category of "Different
kinds of candy", while a high school drama club might have fun with "names of

Materials: None

Explanation: The host of a party and the guests acquire the emotional state of whoever
enters the party.
How to Play: One person begins, as the host, with a neutral emotion. The first guest
knocks or rings the bell (saying "knock-knock" or "ding-dong"), and enters in highly
charged emotional state. Emotions that work well with this exercise include, excitement,
fear, anger, jealousy, joy, sadness, etc. As soon as the host picks up on the emotion, she
"catches" it, and interacts with the guest. The next guest enters with a different emotion,
and the host and guest "catch" it. Things get more chaotic as more guests enter, as each
new guest causes a different emotion to permeate the party. Once the first guest has
entered, the participants can interact with different people until they notice a change in
the emotion, and then they must adapt that emotion. The participants should not watch
the new guests for the emotional state, rather, they should let the emotion "travel" to them
as it will. To make things really tricky, two guests could enter at the same time with
different emotions. The participants will be really wired after this game, so plan
accordingly to use that energy.
Notes: If this has not been discussed before, it might be a good time to discuss with the
participants how to express negative emotions such as anger without hitting any other
participants- what verbal and physical things show anger (in performance) without
hurting anyone in reality.

Mirror Exercise
Materials: None

How to Play: Pair up students. One student is the mirror and must copy everything the

other student does, as if they are looking in a mirror at themselves. They may move
around slowly after they practice a bit.

Fairy Tale in a Minute
Materials: None

How to Play: The students pick a fairy tale (or get one from the instructor) and then act
out the story in one minute. They will do this in front of the other club members who
will be practicing what a good audience is and for feedback from the group.

Environment Shift
Materials: None

Explanation: In this exercise a group of players will create an environment within a few
seconds. The players can be objects in the environment, sound effects, or characters
typical to that environment.
How to Play: Once the environment is called out the players will create the
environment. It is done without conversing or planning. Players will become trees, rocks,
birds, or characters. No scene is started, just the creation of the environment. The 'shift'
comes in when all the players are on stage and the environment has been established.
Another environment is called out and the players must make a seamless transformation
into the other environment.

Animal Characters
Materials: None

Explanation: Each player in this scene will take on the traits of some kind of animal
chosen by the audience. The actors do not pretend to be the given animal, but act like
person would if they were that kind of animal.
How to Play: Once the actors are each assigned an animal type the scene starts like any
other. The animal types are used to give the actors character and activity to embellish the
scene with. The actors should be somewhat subtle with the endowment. For example, if
one is endowed with a cat personality it would be obvious to go meow, but more fun to
play with your meal like a cat plays with its prey. The scenes are just normal scenes

Act Like an Animal (Expanded Version)
Materials: None

How to Play: The teacher initiates a discussion of how some people have traits we
ordinarily associate with animals (nervous like a squirrel, cocky like a rooster, etc) and
how the animal characters in Animal Farm have some very human traits as well.

Part I
In a circle, give the students a line to work with, such as "Hello, how are you?" or "I
didn't do it!" Have them speak the line with the expression of various animals:

a haughty peacock
an angry hen
nervous mouse|
sleepy cat
hungry wolf
slow turtle
eager puppy
Change the animal persona every five students or so.

Part II
Have the students choose one animal. Make two rows out of chairs and have the students
sit down facing each other. Only one row at a time will perform while the other row
watches. This exercise is done in complete silence.

The teacher/leader asks a series of questions designed to help students imagine that they
are becoming their animal:

Imagine you are changing into your animal and envision how would you change? Do you
have hooves, webbed feet, or paws? Try to imagine what that must feel like; pretend you
no longer have human feet, but the feet of your animal. What about your legs? Do you
have two or four? Imagine what it would feel like to have four legs. Are you covered in
fur or feathers? Do you have a beak or a snout? How would that make breathing different
for you? How is your posture different? Is the expression on your face different?

Let students take their time "becoming" their animal characters. Some may shift and
change postures to feel more like their animal. When it seems they've accomplished a
change, ask half the students to freeze. The other half can have a look around at their
fellow classmates. Then reverse so everyone has a chance to see the new personas.

Statues (Tableau)
Materials: None

How to Play: Students stand in a circle in "actor's neutral," with their hands at their
sides, feet about shoulder's distance apart. The teacher leads the exercise by naming an
emotional state, such as nervous, or angry, or proud, etc. Students then have ten beats
(each beat is about a second) to slowly move into a posture that expresses the emotional
state. At the count of ten, they freeze. Teacher chooses another emotion and repeats the
game. The emphasis here is on encouraging the students to move very slowly and
thoughtfully, and to keep adding details to their pose as long as they have time left.

Dramatic Tableaux: Photographs
Materials: photographs or pictures

How to Play: Choose a series of dramatic moments from a story, painting, history or
current events. Divide students into groups of 3-5 and give each group a moment to work
on. For example, the assignment could be to create a still photograph of "the bus that
Rosa Parks rode on" or "George Washington crossing the Delaware" or the "Ruby
Bridges going to school". Students create a photograph of the moment using their own
bodies to create a frozen tableau. Moments can be linked together to create a sequence of
events. For atmosphere, play music that evokes the time period or place in the

Pass a Phrase Gesture Circle
Materials: None

How to Play: Students stand in a circle in "actor's neutral." Leader says a phrase, with
expression. The person to her/his left says the same phrase, but with a different emphasis.
Each student in turn gives the phrase a different emphasis/style until it comes back to the
leader. The point here is to see how many different ways the same set of words can be
expressed. To go further, add a gesture to the phrase and pass both around the circle.

Guess My Occupation
Materials: None

How to Play: One student is selected to pantomime a particular occupation. He can
choose it, or the teacher can assign it. He works for about 30-45 seconds, after which the
audience is allowed to guess what occupation he was demonstrating. Group feedback as
to what was successful about the work is always helpful, as are suggestions for
improvement in case the audience is not able to guess the occupation.
*Variations of this game include: Guess my Animal, Guess my Musical Instrument,
Guess my Sport.

Web Site for Plays:

Books to Look Into:

Theatre Games for the Classroom: A Teacher's Handbook by Viola Spolin

Theatre Games for Young Performer by Maria Novelly.

Where to Find More Books on Theatre:


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