3 easy and accessible Frantic Assembly exercises you can use in your Drama lessons
Frantic Assembly have been described as vibrant and visceral, exciting and energetic and creative and challenging. Since 1994 they have been creating new, innovative and ground-breaking theatre performances and they have never stood still, constantly evolving. Over the two decades they have worked, they have also had education at the centre of what they do, accompanying their work with fantastic educational resources, workshops and support. Their schools’ workshops have been superb, and I was lucky enough to experience a workshop in my school. Since that workshop these three activities have become a constant in my lesson planning and schemes of work.
Missiles with Eye Contact
Bring everyone standing in a circle, going from left to right, saying each other’s name nice and loudly, with confidence and maintaining eye contact with someone opposite you in the circle. Aim for a pause of at least 2 seconds between each name. This Person A crosses the space towards Person B, Person B calls out Person A’s name before crossing the space towards Person C and onwards. Both Person A, who is crossing the space and person B, who they are walking towards, needs to maintain constant eye contact until Person B calls out their name and moves on. The trick is to call out the name as soon as possible so that the momentum becomes constant and there are people crossing the space throughout the whole game. Once this is established, the calling out of names can be removed and movement can just be initiated by eye contact alone. Once this is done, you can then play with the amount of space between the participants, the speed with which they have to cross the space or the amount of people crossing at one time.
Primary School Hide
All the participants have to do the following actions when called they are called and focus on using whole body movement and performance focus throughout exercise.
The actions are;
CENTRE – All run to the centre, taking up the smallest amount of space possible and lie your head on someone’s shoulder.
FOLD – Right arm on floor, making a triangle between right arm and legs, fold your left leg into your stomach and follow the motion until you are rolled into a ball.
CLEAR (?) – Run to the sides of the room.
SWAP – Swap sides of the room as fast as possible.
FAVOURITE – Pick your favourite part of the room and point towards it.
MUSIC – Run and sit in the corner of the room with your attention on the stereo.
PEOPLE – Hug the person nearest you
GO – Walk around the space.
SHIFT, THROUGH, ROUND
This involves the students creating a piece of theatre working in threes, using three simple and effective instructions of a shift, a through and a round.
SHIFT – When you physically move someone from one place to anther
THROUGH – When you pass through a space made by another or two people
ROUND – Either you turn someone around or you go around them.
Let the students experiment with this idea by letting them turn it into a narrative by adding something like one of the three needs to end in a chair or leave the space. The person tries to get up or leave 3 times, but each time is stopped by the other two using a combination of Shift, Through and Round. Further narrative can be added through reactions, body language and facial expressions. The activity can be used to explore the relationship between three characters in a text, such as Mickey, Eddie and Linda in Blood Brothers. Here is a clip from the National Theatre Discovery Channel on YouTube which explains the concept further.
There is so much that you, as a Drama Teacher, can take from Frantic Assembly that these three exercises are just the tip of a wonderful iceberg that keeps on giving. You can find more of their work and resources on their website. Adding some simple Frantic Assembly activities, such as these, can really add a fun, energetic and enjoyable element to your lessons.