Movement warm up• Beans• Physical Theatre – touch and move• (in pairs a and b – a taps a part of b’s body and b reacts like a puppet, taking the movement as far as naturally possible but keeping the same floor position, not travelling.) encourage freedom of expression
Objective• – to encourage a number of individuals to start thinking and working as a coherent group and to establish equality within that group.
Exercise – group stop and start• - Walk around the room, balancing the space, at a fairly brisk pace, being very aware of one an-other. Without giving any signals, and with no single person taking the lead, find a common impulse to stop. Try to come to a complete stop, rather than gradually slowing. Then, once stationary, find a common impulse to begin walking again. This may happen after a few seconds or several minutes, that does not matter. The important thing is that the group responds as one and makes choices together without communication or leadership. This exercise can also be done in a circle.• Do this a number of times, start in a circle and progress to random spacing around the room.
Extension Exercise• Include other actions as well as starting and stopping, e.g. Raise one arm, bend forwards, lean to the left etc. To make it really tricky, include a jump when stationary.
• Moving as a chorus (shoaling)• Objective – to encourage a group to make collective decisions and to improve their non verbal communi-cation, to introduce the concept of Greek Chorus, and to encourage the group to be open to accepting offers from one another.
Exercise -• Assemble as a group. Set off together (as with common impulse) and move as one, at the same speed as one another and keeping the spacing between you constant.• When you approach an obstacle, turn as one to face a new direction. Whoever finds themselves at the front of the group becomes the leader, and they set the speed and direction of movement until another obstacle is reached.• The chorus then turns again, and finds a new leader at the front of the group. The aim is for the chorus to move as fluidly as possible, like shoal of fish.
Extension exercise• - Broaden the scope of the movement.• Who is leading if you face one way but travel in another direction (sideways, backwards)? Move between different levels. Include arm movements, upper body movements etc. Ask their group to make their chorus convey a mood or an atmosphere.
Plateau• Objective – To develop the concept of Greek Chorus and explore communal movement, and to reinforce the idea of offering and accepting offers.
Exercise - Plateau• - Imagine that the floor is a large flat platform balanced on a tennis ball at the centre. Begin with one person at each end. They must work together to keep the tipping platform balanced on the ball, remaining equidistant from it. They must not mirror one an- other, or the platform will tip, but rather counter balance one another, keeping moving at all times, remaining silent and collaborating equally to balance the platform.• Neither should “lead”. Other participants find a moment to join one party. More and more participants gradually join each team until the whole group is included.• Ask the group whether they have made one chorus or two. Although they are not standing as a single group, they are still working as a single entity to keep the platform balanced.
Note taking time• You now have 15 minutes to make notes on the exercises we have just done, and how they could help a director instruct a group in the movement aspects of the chorus.
Vocal work• Objective – to encourage a number of individuals to start thinking and working as a coherent group and to establish equality within that group.
Exercise –• Stand in a circle facing one another. Ask the group to inhale and exhale as one. Find a common impulse for the in and out breath, without signalling or allowing any one individual to lead. Breathe normally. Repeat. Then vocalize the out breath with an “ah”. Begin and end together, again without signalling or leading. Work towards turning the vocalized out breath into a word, “us”. Make sure the separate sounds are articulated cleanly as a group – all moving from the vowel to the sibilant sound together, and stopping as one.
Extension Exercise –• Change the formation and repeat, standing still all facing one direction, then all facing different directions, then walking around, then still with eyes closed. (increasingly difficult).• Alternative – ask the group to hum any note, and then to find a common impulse to open their mouths, changing the sound from “mmmmmm” to “aaaaaah” together.
Story TellingObjective –to encourage a group to make collectivedecisions and to be open to making offersand accepting offers from one another.To introduce the idea of collectiveresponsibility for carrying a narrative, andto explore the possibility of a group beinga single narrator for a story.
• Exercise – Pick a story everyone in the group knows well, either a text that you are working on, or a fairy story or similar. Sit in a circle and tell the story by allowing each member of the group to speak one word in turn around the circle. Ask one person to record what is said. Read it back and identify and problems, either grammatical errors or gaps in the story telling. Repeat the exercise until you have a version that everybody in the group feels satisfied with.
• Extension exercise - Tell the story in this way for different imagined audiences, ie. A bedtime story, a news report, a piece of gossip. How can the group find a common narrative voice when speaking sepa-rately?
Choric Speaking• Objective – To develop the concept of Greek Chorus and explore communal speech.• Take one sentence from the story as told above. Ask one member of the group to perform the sentence, as they might on stage. Ideally, record their performance. Ask the rest of the group to copy the way the sentence was spoken, practicing individually, matching the speed, pronunciation and inflection exactly. Then, when they think they have learned it perfectly, ask them all to speak the sentence together.• Record this and play it back so they can hear themselves. It should sound like one person with many voices, rather than a group.• Ask them if they think they have achieved this. It should also sound full of life, rather than having the automaton sound that a group speaking together can adopt.
• When they are happy that they have achieved this, play the two versions for comparison – the original lone speaker and the group. How do they compare? Return to the common impulse task and ask them to begin the sentence together in this way.• Try the exercise on several connecting sentences, one at a time, then add the sentences together. Keep comparing them to the lone speaker’s version. Do they sound as alive and as engaging?
Speaking and Moving!• Objective – To assimilate the other exercises to create a lively and coherent Chorus
Exercise –• Identify a chorus speech with some good, juicy, interesting words in it, and create a choric version in the method outlined in exercise three. Then ask the chorus members to each choose a different word from the text which appeals to them and to create a gesture or physical action to accompany that word.• Stand in a circle and practice each other’s actions in turn.• Each action is offered by its creator, then repeated one by one around the circle, then performed together.• Do this for every word that has an action. Then stand as a chorus, and speak the text as before, incorporating these actions.• No one member of the group should pull focus, and the spoken version of the text should sound no different to how it did before the actions were added. Compare recorded versions to make sure.
Extension Exercise –• perform the speech, with actions, while shoaling. There should be no pre prescribed pattern or trajectory for the chorus to follow, they should be responding in the moment to the offers made by the group, while maintaining what they have created previously in terms of speech and action in a disciplined way.