The circle walk and the group walk are great physical warm-up exercises for acting students. These drama activities are geared toward groups that meet repeatedly over time.
Circle Walk One
Actors need to develop a strong awareness of their physical selves. Pantomime exercises create this self-awareness and ability to communicate with our bodies. Groups of actors working together need to develop a heightened sense of physical awareness of each other. The following series of exercises helps to nurture these developments.
I almost always prefer to have my students warm up while standing in a big circle with space between each person. Form a circle and lead your students in your usual group stretches. After a warm-up, they will be ready for the Circle Walk.
The Circle Walk is comprised of a series of activities performed while walking in a circle. The following Circle Walk works extremely well as part of a warm-up when the class is just starting to meet. Instruct your students to walk slowly, keep the space between each other, and keep the circle big.
Let them get started, and after a minute begin calling out directions, such as the following. Allow your students time to get used to each movement before calling out the next direction.
* On your toes!
* On your heels!
* Walk on the outer edges of your feet!
* Walk on the inner edges of your feet!
* Regular feet!
* March bringing your knees up high!
Keep your students moving in any combination of movement. Add your own creative ideas to this section.
After the students have gotten a little bit used to what you are making them do, there are a few more that will require another level of awareness on their parts:
* Change direction! (Turn 180 degrees around and keep walking.)
Circle Walk Two
At some point in your sessions, you will want to work on physical characterization. The following Circle Walk teaches and prepares students to move their bodies in different ways for different characters and situations.
Start the Circle Walk. As the students are moving at a consistent pace, announce that they are marionettes. There is a string on the very top of their heads. The puppeteer is pulling up on it. Here, you should see straitened postures and possibly even people on their toes. (You can tell them that the puppeteer is just pulling tight enough to keep their posture strait, but not on their toes.) Now, have some fun with these directions, and any more you may think of:
* The string is attached to your nose.
* The string is attached to your chin.
* The string is attached to your belly button.
* The string is attached to your left elbow.
* The string is attached to your right knee.
* The string is between your shoulder blades.
Feel free to use Change Direction! and Backwards!
At some point after the Circle Walk, begin a group discussion about how different characters have strings pulling on different places. For example, a snooty person may have a string on his nose pulling up. A very elderly person may have a string between her shoulder blades, causing her to stoop over. Obviously, this idea becomes quite useful when students are portraying characters on stage.
The only difference between Circle Walks and Free Walks is that during Free Walks, the students move freely about the room, following directions and not bumping into one another.
Drama classes that meet repeatedly over time should progress from Circle Walks to Free Walks. When the students are doing the Free Walk activity well, then you know they have a good sense of physical awareness of the group.