A group of actors play a game to get them ready for a rehearsal

Someone important once said “Acting is about playing… after all, it is called a play.”

Well, what better way to start off your rehearsal than playing a game?

First, it is important to understand why you’re playing the game in the first place. Now, what I’m going to go into might start to be just as relevant to aspiring Directors, however, it’s never a bad thing to know why you’re playing.

A group of people are at their first meeting, can you name a better, quick-fire way to get to know each other than an icebreaker? The aim of an icebreaker is to laugh and feel at ease, so how do you achieve that? Make mistakes. Get all those egos out of the room by doing a little bit of honest failing.

Now the type of game you play will depend on the cast and crew in the room. A personal favourite of mine is a game called “fuzzy duck”.

Going around a circle a group of people say one by one “Fuzzy Duck”, one person, when they want to, will break the chain and say “Does he?” then going round in the other direction one by one saying “Ducky Fuzz”. When someone makes a mistake they un-intentionally come out with either “F*** he does” or “Does he F***” hilarious when the most innocent person blurts it across the room with full gusto!

Once the icebreakers are done with games prior to shows and rehearsals truly depend on the desired effect. If you’re preparing for a day of table work around a script you don’t want to get everyone hyped up with a game of Crab Tag, like regular tag except you can only move sideways (pincer hands are optional). Maybe some meditation is more appropriate?

Likewise, if your day of rehearsal is going to be a physical you want everyone to work up more of a sweat and limber up. The last thing you want to do is start your day with a relaxing meditation and group massage.

If you’re ever venturing into the world of solo performance the same rules still apply. It’s just that the games you play have to be one player and if I’m being honest they start to look more like workouts. That isn’t a bad thing, you do whatever you want to do to get you in the zone.

There is a book called Drama Games for Classrooms and Workshops by Jessica Swale which lists tons of games that you could play. However, as an Actor, you won’t have to worry too much about trying to find specific Acting Games for you and/or your Company, let the Director deal with that. It’s never a good idea to undermine your Director.

As you go through your career you will pick up countless games from all over the world, your job is to come to rehearsals ready to work, both vocally and physically warmed up AND to know your lines!

Although the games might be fun, that’s not just what they are about, they always have an aim, next time you play to try to take whatever is from the game straight into what follows.

John Francis Collins

John is a graduate of the YEP Actors and Writers courses and is currently studying Acting at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. He continues to write his own plays in his own time. He is also an avid football fan and is trying to make his debut into the Liverpool first eleven. Acting was always the plan B.