The play’s the thing
Inspiring imagination through drama

Whether you have a child with a yen for the spotlight or one who shies away from center stage, introducing drama-based activities into your playtime is a great way to cultivate important life skills and validate one of your child’s greatest gifts – imagination. Games based on “tableau” (a frozen moment) encourage focus and teamwork, spark imagination, promote balance and muscle control, and get kids on their feet and moving.

What you need

An unfettered imagination (no wrong answers here!)

Comfortable clothes

Space for unrestricted movement

How you do it

Children should be on their feet and focused on a parent.

Working together as a team, kids are instructed to physically transform themselves into whatever scene the parent calls out at the word “Go.” Examples of fun and effective tableau scenes:

– Be a restaurant!

– Be a rocket ship!

– Be a bowling alley!

– Be a garden!

– Be a circus!

– Be a race car!

You get the idea. The possibilities are endless.

Give the kids just a few moments to work together to create their scenes before calling, “Freeze.”

With the kids holding their poses, go around the group and ask each child to explain what they are. (Without lots of rules and guidelines, the answers you’ll get are great – a recent “restaurant” scene at the Guthrie featured a human dishwashing machine, menu, cash register, and a bendy straw.)

Modifications

Tableau exercises are great for all ages and with groups large and small. For older children, ask them to work together without speaking or making a sound. Challenge them with more complex prompts (these can be experiential, like “Be love” or “Be yesterday”). For solo playtime, prompts should be achievable by one person (“Be a monster” or “Be a flagpole”). And don’t forget, parents can play, too!

Beth Burns is director of the Guthrie Learning Center, which is housed in the beautiful new Guthrie Theater, on the banks of the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis. The Learning Center offers classes, summer camps, and many other activities for kids and families. For more information, visit GuthrieTheater.org or contact Beth Burns at 612-225-6171. H

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The play’s the thing
Inspiring imagination through drama

Whether you have a child with a yen for the spotlight or one who shies away from center stage, introducing drama-based activities into your playtime is a great way to cultivate important life skills and validate one of your child’s greatest gifts – imagination. Games based on “tableau” (a frozen moment) encourage focus and teamwork, spark imagination, promote balance and muscle control, and get kids on their feet and moving.

What you need

An unfettered imagination (no wrong answers here!)

Comfortable clothes

Space for unrestricted movement

How you do it

Children should be on their feet and focused on a parent.

Working together as a team, kids are instructed to physically transform themselves into whatever scene the parent calls out at the word “Go.” Examples of fun and effective tableau scenes:

– Be a restaurant!

– Be a rocket ship!

– Be a bowling alley!

– Be a garden!

– Be a circus!

– Be a race car!

You get the idea. The possibilities are endless.

Give the kids just a few moments to work together to create their scenes before calling, “Freeze.”

With the kids holding their poses, go around the group and ask each child to explain what they are. (Without lots of rules and guidelines, the answers you’ll get are great – a recent “restaurant” scene at the Guthrie featured a human dishwashing machine, menu, cash register, and a bendy straw.)

Modifications

Tableau exercises are great for all ages and with groups large and small. For older children, ask them to work together without speaking or making a sound. Challenge them with more complex prompts (these can be experiential, like “Be love” or “Be yesterday”). For solo playtime, prompts should be achievable by one person (“Be a monster” or “Be a flagpole”). And don’t forget, parents can play, too!

Beth Burns is director of the Guthrie Learning Center, which is housed in the beautiful new Guthrie Theater, on the banks of the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis. The Learning Center offers classes, summer camps, and many other activities for kids and families. For more information, visit GuthrieTheater.org or contact Beth Burns at 612-225-6171. H