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Acting Warm Up: Magic Putty

Here’s a great warm up that also works as a communication exercise. Magic Putty.


Instructions:
  1. Everyone stands in a circle, including the teacher. The teacher cups his/her hands and says, “I’m holding something amazing in my hands. It’s magic putty. I can use it to make any kind of toy that I want. For example…”
  2. The teacher mimes shaping the putty into a toy (e.g. a Barbie doll, a tennis racket, etc.), plays with said toy for a few seconds and then shapes the toy back into the ball of magic putty. Be specific with each step. Take the putty, shape it into the toy, play with the toy and then re-shape it back into putty. Make each step clean and defined.
  3. The putty is passed to the next person and the game continues around the circle.

This is a great game for beginners because it doesn’t ask students to play a role, to be funny, to be impressive. It just asks them to think of a toy and communicate what that toy is through mime.


Some tips:
  • Don’t worry about the amount of putty you start with and don’t worry about being realistic. A handful can make an entire baseball stadium if you so desire. It’s magic!
  • Encourage physicality. Coach the students to make toys that use the whole body (e.g. a bicycle).
  • Do the steps. Coach students to follow each step cleanly – accept the putty, shape the putty into a toy, play with the toy, shape it back into putty.
  • Take the word “toy” loosely. It doesn’t need to be a traditional toy. It can be any object that you interact with in a physical way.

Variations:

Charades: Interact with the toy until someone is able to guess what it is.

Share your toy: Instead of collapsing the toy after playing with it, it gets handed to the next person in the circle, who also plays with it for a few seconds, then collapses it to make a new toy.

Speed round: Do a round as quickly as possible, keeping the movements/steps as clean and clear as possible.

Click here for a downloadable PDF of this exercise!
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