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Embracing Tradition: The Importance of Routine in Drama Class

Whether you're orchestrating your drama class in the comfort of your homeschool or within the four walls of a traditional classroom, establishing routines and honouring theatrical traditions can set the scene for unforgettable learning experiences. Routine and traditions not only set the stage for your class but can set the tone as well. It's a great way to start building the connections between fellow performers whether they are brand new or old pros.  In the world of theater, collaboration is key. Establishing routines that promote teamwork and camaraderie cultivates a supportive community within the drama class.




Introduce the routine and expectations: At the start of any rehearsal for a new show or new class I share my expectations for the performers. Each teacher/director has the opportunity to create their own list of expectations. It is always too good to be clear with what they are so everyone is on the same page. Here are just a few key ones that have served me over the years:


  1. Respect your fellow performers and teacher/director (Listen when someone is talking)

  2. Leave the outside world at the door. If you are having a bad day or are fighting with a friend I ask performers to try to leave it at the door and focus on what we are doing in this space.

  3. Just Try It. If I play a game or exercise that you don't love I ask performers to just try it at first. If later they want to come to me and tell me they hated it, I take the feedback.

  4. If you are doing any movement to a fellow performer make sure they know and you have asked ahead of time.

  5. Let's have fun!


Know the Plan: In every rehearsal or class I want the group to know my plan for the day. If I want to get through one song, one dance and a scene or if I want to clean a dance number or if I want to work on character development I let them know. It gives everyone an idea of what to expect and where their focus should be. It also helps me hold people accountable at the end if we didn't get through everything.


Warm-up: Every great class begins with a warm-up. I like to start with some simple big breaths while moving my body and letting out different sounds. I continue taking in big breaths and having performers give sounds that everyone can copy. Depending on the group I may do this for 5-10 times.




Warm-Up Games: Next play some energizing games and theatre exercises to get those creative juices flowing. I usually start with a few simple games depending on the energy of the room and what the group needs.


Focus Games- Some of my favourite focus games are:


Zip, Zap, Zop

Kitty Want A Corner

Clap and Pass

Whoosh

Squirt


Energy Building Games

Sound and Movement

Shakes


Character Games

To Me

Emotion Levels

Back To Neutral


Depending on your group and task at hand you only want to play few warm-up games and then can get onto your work for the day. The more you can build simple routines into your class or rehearsal the better the group will work together.


End of the class

Clean up and shake down. We talk a lot about respecting the space we are in. So as a group we clean it up before we do our shake down to end the class


Shake down: We start slow and quiet and with our right hand we shake counting 5,4,3,2,1 - then you move to left hand doing the same, right foot doing the same and left foot doing the same. You get a bit louder and faster start with the right hand 4,3,2,1 - then you move to left hand doing the same, right foot doing the same and left foot doing the same.

You continue this pattern getting louder and faster until the end you are yelling 1,1,1,1

I always get the group to bring their hands together and cheer something for the day. It can be silly, it can be Happy Birthday to a classmate, it can be a silly phrase from an improv scene and we cheer together.


Here is an example of a shakedown at one of our shows - https://youtu.be/-UJTQHb9v1M


As you see we continue this tradition of shake down to the show. It gives the performers as sense of ease and commit as it is something they have done many times. When it is show time instead of ending with the shake down we do it right before the performers go on to build their energy and re-enforce their connection as a group.


Remember, the key to creating a successful routine in your drama class is to keep it fun, engaging, and interactive. It builds the the connection between your group quickly as everyone knows what to expect and knows what to do.


So, go ahead and let your imagination run wild! Who knows, you might just inspire the next generation of Broadway stars from the comfort of your homeschool classroom. Break a leg!

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