Destination Imagination Tips for Better Performances!

By July 14, 2015Blog

Destination Imagination Tips for Better Performances!

Does your team struggle with:

  • Projecting their voices
  • Facing the audience
  • Having strong stage presence
  • Telling interesting stories that make sense

Drama Notebook has teamed up with Destination Imagination HQ to offer affordable drama training materials to teams worldwide! During the 2014-2015 season, Janea Dahl worked with DI teams in Oregon and led Team Manager drama skills training sessions at Global Finals.

Here are a few free activities for you to try with your team! Soon, we will have an entire section inside of Drama Notebook devoted to Destination Imagination and DI Team Managers will enjoy a group discount to the site.

Building Trust Within Your Team

In theatre, actors often take a little time to get to know one another better and to build trust within the group. This helps actors feel more comfortable about taking risks. 

Try this activity at the beginning of the season with your team!

The Truth about Me

In a circle, players take turns entering the middle of the circle and stating something that is true for them such as: I love to sing. Any other player in the circle who shares that truth, steps into the circle with that person. The Team Manager asks players to notice who is in the circle and who is not. The TM may also ask the inner circle players to connect or celebrate in some way, such as: high-fiving each other; doing a jig with a partner; sharing a group hug, etc.

If there are not enough players to effectively make a circle, the game may be played with the entire group standing on one side of the room and the player who states his/her truth walks to the other side of the room. After he/she states a truth, players cross the room to join him/her.

It’s important to ask players to share truths that have meaning. Ask players to avoid extremely general statements or statements that don’t reveal much such as: I like video games; I have blonde hair; I like candy.

Examples of good statement openers:

  • I absolutely love…
  • I’m afraid of…
  • I can’t go a day without…

Inside of Drama Notebook there are over 70 activities to help your group build trust and feel more comfortable about making bold choices.

Name Game/Movement Warm-up

Many team managers struggle with ‘wooden soldier’ syndrome, or with team members who become somewhat frozen and stilted onstage.

This easy activity can help your DI team members learn each other’s names quickly while also helping them to get comfortable moving and talking as though they are characters.

Greetings

Ask players to begin milling about the room. Tell them that in a minute, you are going to call out a personality/character type and they must turn to the closest person to them and introduce themselves by name and shake hands in-character.

  • Like snobs
  • Like people in a hurry, but friendly
  • Like rude people in a big hurry
  • Like business executives
  • Like old people
  • Like young children
  • Angrily
  • Sadly, crying
  • In a bored manner
  • Extremely politely
  • Very shyly, scared
  • As if on a cold day
  • As if on a sweltering hot day
  • Like they are drunk
  • While giggling
  • With accents
  • Like suspicious spies
  • Like robots
  • Too much coffee
  • Like Martians
  • Rock stars
  • Cheerleaders
  • On the edge of a cliff
  • Someone you know a secret about

Inside of Drama Notebook, there are over 100 movement games designed to help your team members feel more comfortable presenting their challenge solutions whether or not they are drama related.

Facing the Audience

Many teams have trouble grasping the concept of not turning their backs on the audience. This can be extremely frustrating for Team Managers once the Team Challenges have begun, as at that point, no interference is allowed.

Below is a fun activity that can be used early in the season prior to an instant challenge.

Fairy Tale Tableaus

dn-moonTableaus are frozen pictures in which students create a scene, setting or part of a story with their bodies and facial expressions. In this activity, teams act out a fairy tale in three frozen pictures.

Tell team members that you are going to be working on remembering to face the audience.

Select one person to sit out of the first round of the game and hand the remaining players one list of fairy tale tableaus such as:

Hansel and Gretel

Scene One: Hansel and Gretel are alone in a scary forest, dropping bread crumbs.
Scene Two: They reach a house made of candy, and a witch invites them in.
Scene Three: They push the witch into the oven.

Say!

We are going to play a fun game that will help us remember to face the audience when we are onstage. We are going to act out fairy tales by creating three frozen pictures, or tableaus.

In each picture, I want you to pay attention to whether your body is facing the audience and whether your facial expression helps show the audience what is going on in the picture. “Alex” is sitting out as our director. If he can clearly see everyone in the group, and feels that you are all facing the audience, he will give you a thumbs up and you can move on to the next picture. If he cannot see someone, or feels that they are not open enough to the audience, he will give you a thumbs down.

If you get a thumbs down, you must silently rearrange yourself until he gives you a thumbs up. Alex does not know which fairy tale you are acting out, so try and make your stage pictures as clear as possible.

Give the team a few minutes to rehearse their frozen pictures; remind them that in each picture, it is important the every actor be clearly seen by the audience.

When the group is ready, ask the player to sit out to be the ‘director.’ Ring a bell, or call out “Scene One,” “Scene Two,” etc. to indicate that the group should move on to the next scene.

For each scene, have the director give a ‘thumbs up’ if all of the actors are clearly playing to the audience (their faces can be seen and their bodies are open to the audience), or a ‘thumbs down’ if one or more person is obscured or not facing the audience.

Members of the group must look at the director and silently adjust themselves until they receive a ‘thumbs up.’

Here are three more sets of fairy tale tableaus to use with your team!

Prince Charming’s Ball

Scene One: Everyone is enjoying the ball!
Scene Two: Cinderella arrives and Prince Charming sees her!
Scene Three: Cinderella surprises everyone by running away!

Three Billy Goats Gruff

Scene One: The Three Billy Goats reach a bridge with a troll hiding under it.
Scene Two: Two of the goats make it to the other side.
Scene Three: The biggest Billy Goat throws the troll into the river.

Goldilocks

Scene One: Goldilocks finds the bear’s house.
Scene Two: Goldilocks tries out the beds.
Scene Three: The Three Bears catch her sleeping!

Tips:

  • For some scenes, students can be trees, bridges, beds, or form houses, ovens, etc. with their bodies.
  • If you have groups of eight or more, you can split them into two groups who take turns performing and giving each other feedback.
Ask the director/audience members:

  • What do you think is happening in this scene?
  • Who/what is the main focus?
  • Can you see everyone’s face?
  • Is anyone drawing attention away from the main focus?
  • How could they make this stage picture more interesting/powerful?
Ask the players onstage:

  • How is this activity different from our normal rehearsals?
  • What did you learn by doing this activity?
  • How did it feel knowing that you had a director?
  • What happened when you got a thumbs down?
Inside of Drama Notebook, there is a complete tutorial on facing the audience using techniques that professional actors used, disguised as games. The lesson includes actual theatre terminology presented in a way that students of all ages can readily understand. Using these materials will dramatically improve your teams ability to be confident onstage.

Vocal Projection

Do you struggle with getting your team members to be loud enough to be heard during competitions or challenges, or even at practice for that matter?  Students often have a difficult time understanding just how loud they must be in order to be heard. They think they are being loud enough when they aren’t. Professional actors spend years honing their craft and learning different vocal techniques when developing their voices for the stage. The goal of the Drama Notebook materials/tutorials is to get students to learn these techniques in a way that is fun and non-threatening.

Try this fun vocal projection activity with your team before an instant challenge!

What?

This is a vocal projection game. It works well because students must come up with their own dialogue, so they are simultaneously thinking about what to say and it takes the focus off of the pressure to be louder.

Here’s how to play:

Two players onstage. One is a little old man who owns a candy store. The other is a customer. The customer enters, goes up to the counter and asks for a piece of candy. The little old man is hard of hearing, so he says “What?” The customer asks again, this time a little louder. The little old man says “What?” a little louder. This goes on three times, with both players becoming increasing more loud, until finally, the old man says, “Oh, okay. Here you go.” Then the customer becomes the little old man, and a new player enters the candy store. Students get to pick what candy they’d like. Encourage players to always choose something new-no repeats.

Customer: I’d like some peanut brittle please.
Little Old Man: What?
Customer: (a little louder) I’d like some peanut brittle please.
Little Old Man: (a little louder) What?
Customer: (loudest) I’d like some peanut brittle please!
Little Old Man: Oh, okay!

Performance Tip!
Invite one student to be the stage monitor or ‘director!’ Give the student two cards marked YES and NO. Ask the student to hold up a YES card if he/she can hear the actor, and a NO card if the last actor to go is still not loud enough.

Inside of Drama Notebook, you’ll find dozens of ideas for getting your team members to confidently project their voices during challenges and presentations.

Destination Imagination HQ has arranged for DI Team Managers to join Drama Notebook at a reduced rate. We are currently developing materials that are specific to the needs of DI, and will have them ready by September 1st, 2015. Every Team Manager will be e-mailed when this is ready and you will receive a code for a discounted membership.

Please consider joining Drama Notebook and giving your team members the advantage of drama skills training that will serve them for the rest of their lives.

Janea Dahl
Creator and Author at Drama Notebook
Janea has a BA in theatre, and spent twelve years working in professional theatre. She was the founder of The Young Players www.theyoungplayers.com, the largest drama outreach program in her state. For nearly a decade, The Young Players served over a hundred schools, and employed over twenty teaching artists. Thousands of public school children and teens participated in her award-winning workshops each year.
In 2012, Janea sold Young Players to Northwest Children’s Theatre and School to serve teachers full-time on Drama Notebook. Read more

About Janea Dahl

Janea has a BA in theatre, and spent twelve years working in professional theatre. She was the founder of The Young Players www.theyoungplayers.com, the largest drama outreach program in her state. For nearly a decade, The Young Players served over a hundred schools, and employed over twenty teaching artists. Thousands of public school children and teens participated in her award-winning workshops each year. In 2012, Janea sold Young Players to Northwest Children’s Theatre and School to serve teachers full-time on Drama Notebook. Read more

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