by Marjie Chud

My favourite go-to warm up is a fun and physical icebreaker that quickly creates an ensemble by building up teamwork and cooperation. It also introduces tableau and improvisation  – in less than 10 minutes! It is a powerhouse warm up.

I call it Blob Tableau and, like all drama exercises, there are probably hundreds of variations. But here’s mine:

1. Have participants walk around the room, filling the space.

2. Call out, “Hand to hand”. Participants must connect to someone with their hands and hold for a few seconds until the facilitator asks them to resume walking.

3. Repeat this a few times with other connections (“hand to foot”, “ankle to toe”, “elbow to elbow”, etc.). Encourage participants to connect with new people each time.

4. On the last connection, call out the name of a familiar structure, such as a table or car, and ask each connected group (numbers are not important) to create that structure together in a frozen picture, using their bodies (tableau).

5. Now call out, “groups of three” and the name of a structure or animal or whatever matches the theme you are exploring. The participants must then make a tableau for that word in less than 10 seconds.

6. Repeat this with other words or ideas, beginning with small group sizes and increasing in number as the exercise builds (try a full class one for fun!). Change often and quickly. Challenge participants to be physically connected in their tableaux.

7. To introduce improvisation, I will often challenge participants to think outside the box by making structures such as a vehicle that has never been created before and once they are frozen in a tableau, I will tap on someone and ask for the structure’s name or what fuel it uses or what it’s made of or how fast it goes at top speed, etc. and prompt for the first thought that comes to them.

Possible Extensions:

  • Add titles for tableaux such as “Happy Birthday” or “The Mystery” or “The Big Event”.
  • Use one of these tableaux as the middle of a story by asking participants to create a tableau for what happens before the initial tableau (beginning) and one for what happens after the initial tableau (ending). Perform them together for an instant story!

The best part about this activity is that it can be played with people from kindergarten to adult age. It’s even better when they all participate together!

Click here to see one of Marjie’s favourite song and craft exercises.