Distance Learning Teaching Drama

Warm-Up Game: Muted Conversations

Warm-up game: Muted Conversations
Written by Kerry Hishon

This warm-up game helps students work on a variety of skills: improvising, listening, observing, and working as a team. At the same time, it’s pretty silly and good for a laugh! This game requires no props (although students can use found objects if they wish), and can be done virtually on an online platform such as Zoom or Skype, or in person.

1. Select four students to participate. Two students will be silent actors and two students will be their voices. Assign one silent actor and one voice actor to be Character A, and the other silent actor and voice actor to be Character B.

2. The two voice actors will cover their cameras or turn them off, but keep their microphones on. (Make sure they can still see everyone else.) The two silent actors will turn their microphones off, but keep their cameras on.

3. The two voice actors will start a conversation, Character A speaking to Character B. It might help to give them a starting line, a character trait, or a topic to get them started. See below for a link to twenty conversation starters!

4. The two silent actors will lip sync (as best they can) along with their matching voice actor, while adding facial expressions and gestures. They can use found objects as props if they wish.

5. The silent actors will need to listen carefully to what the voice actors are saying to interpret their words. It will help the silent actors if the voice actors speak slowly and clearly. The silent actors can help make the scene more active by exaggerating their facial expressions and gestures.

6. Give students the opportunity to try both the silent and voice roles.

7. After the scene, discuss with your students:

  • What was more challenging: playing the silent role or the voice role?
  • What role did you prefer to play?
  • How can this exercise help you become a better actor?
  • What can you do to make the scene funny?
  • What can you do to be a good team player in this exercise?

Alternate 1: Act/React

  • Have the two silent actors create a mimed scene, while the two voice actors create lines based on the actions of the silent pair. 

Adaptation 2: Murmel Murmel Murmel

  • Have the two voice actors speak in gibberish, animal sounds, or vocal effects, while the silent actors mouth a “conversation” and react to the sounds.

Adaptation 3: Flip the Roles

  • For this adaptation, have all the participants keep their mics and cameras on. Assign the pairs as instructed above. Midway through the scene, say “FLIP” and have the silent pair become the voice pair and vice versa. Students must keep the conversation going as if nothing has changed.
Click here for a free list of twenty conversation starters.

Kerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer and stage combatant from London, Ontario, Canada. She blogs at www.kerryhishon.com.

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About the author

Kerry Hishon

Kerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer and stage combatant from London, Ontario, Canada. View her blog at www.kerryhishon.com.