Acting Teaching Drama

Acting Warm-Up: Magic Putty

Written by Craig Mason

Here’s a warm-up activity that I love using with a wide variety of groups. I’m sure it goes by many names but I like to call it Magic Putty. Here’s how it works.

Everyone stands in a circle, including the teacher. The teacher cups 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…” Then she mimes shaping the putty into a toy (e.g. a Barbie doll, a tennis racket, etc.). She then plays with said toy for a few seconds, then shapes the toy back into the ball of magic putty. 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 you to play a role, to be funny, to be impressive. It just asks you to think of a toy. It’s also a light physical warm-up.

Some tips:

Don’t be realistic. Don’t worry about the amount of putty you start with. 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 – accepting the putty, shaping the putty into a toy, playing with the toy, shaping

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: You have to interact with your toy until someone is able to guess what the toy 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.

About the author

Craig Mason