“I speak kid.”
Since I was 12 years old, I loved performing. First hired as an assistant to a local magician to be his clown sidekick, I developed this clown character seasoning him with magic acts and performing for children in the neighborhood later advancing to more sophisticated audiences. I use games/magic/clowning that kids already love to make the serious art of acting simple, clear, and fun!
The actor must transform their own way of thinking, or “point-of-view,” to match the character’s and playwright’s.
First, I will playfully challenge how they think using visual puzzles or mystery/crime/story-riddles. These brain-teasers are designed to stimulate lateral or “out of the box” thinking which is the first step in seeing another’s “point of view” with compassion.
Surprise switch! I become the student and your child will teach me an activity with which they are practiced (ex: making a BLT, holding a golf club, drawing a face) as I take notes and ask questions. This asks them to become another person, their acting teacher, and specify ideas through clear language and actions.
• A side-effect is nourished self-esteem through enacting a perceived “power reversal.” They have the pride of maturity through adjusting this point of view.
Next is tapping in their incredibly imaginations by creating character out of this point of view, rather than themselves, while introducing basic acting vocabulary. What does this person with their point of view wear? (Costume, Make-up) What would they choose to own? (Props, Sets) How would they speak? (Pitch, Accents, Tempo.)
Pure creative energy is chaotic and scattered without technique to focus it on a cohesive, communicative work of art. (Just watch a toddler dance to Whitney Houston.) The source of creativity is imagination and children embrace that “altered reality” with joy. This Foundation begins techniques to channel the creative energy of imagination.
What’s Up Here? This theatre game challenges you kid to specifically communicate without words. Through action—the building block of theatre and literal name of the profession—they must communicate:
•Where they are. A gondola in Venice? Rapunzal’s Tower? The Moon?
• Who they are. A great-grandparent with a cane? A Royal Messenger on a unicorn? A newborn in a cradle?
• What they are. A banker counting in the vault? A NASCAR racer in the final lap? professor at Hogwarts?
Magic! Expect to be fooled after this one. The vast majority of card or magic tricks can truly be done in less than 10 seconds. But the art or magic—thousands of years old—is about transforming that 10 seconds that we know is a “trick,” into an intriguing, engaging and captivating story-framework for magic. Total free of parameters, the child channels their imagination into a story using all the skills we’ve learned so far.
Let’s Dance! Now we are ready to create an improvised scene together. We use “Where” from a local creek to a metropolis in the clouds, “Who” from a talking penguin to that old grouch who always yells at kids to get off my lawn!, “What” from an urgent mission for digging a hole to Mars to patiently teaching the stove how to do math.
“The play is not about the words.” —Stella Adler.
Print is about words but acting is about action. Words are one of many ways to express action. This Foundation is about using rather than “saying” words.
Read First, Naturally. After learning your individual child’s tastes but moreover what encourages their creative energies, I suggest text sources. These can be from evocative children’s stories, short stage plays specific to their age-group, to possibly some of the more readable Shakespeares. This is selected specific to each young actor.
Using Point of View. This is the important beginning of character creation. Discouraging personal memories, their channeled imagination (which is limitless in comparison to their short memories) they begin creating goals (Objectives), problems to tackle (Obstacle, Conflict) and all the steps in the character’s life that got them to this place. (History/Background, Temperament). This imagination is chosen for and channeled into partnership with the play’s words.
So, Like, Why? All art exists for a reason, whether it to look pretty over the sofa or help us understand the meaning of love. The most important part of making one of a thousands of artistic choices is to express in action those playwrights’ central reason. In this Foundation, we take all the pieces and discoveries and inventions and simply ask: what does this all mean? How does it add up? Sometimes their answers are funny: “Apple-sellers shouldn’t look like a witch” but other’s can be astoundingly profound. Most important, and perhaps the purpose of all art, is to think larger than just yourself and this part helps that get started.
Three Acting Foundation Skills