They say that if you want to become a professional at anything, you need to practice every day. But when it comes to acting, that isn't exactly easy. Of course, you can rehearse a monologue, read a script, or do vocal exercises, but what else is there? Without an audience or someone to bounce lines off of, how else can you improve your acting every day?
Well, there are a number of great acting games you can play by yourself to improve things like your ability to development a character, your improvisation, and your ability to internalize a character or a character's emotion. Being that you don't need anyone else to play these games, you can run through them every single day without too much trouble. Take a look at a few of our favorites below!
1. Three Phone CallsThree phone calls is a simple acting game that is perfect for experimenting with your total range of emotion. Here is how the game works:
In this scenario you are either just walking through the front door, or you are getting ready to leave the house. You could be putting on your coat, tying your shoes, looking for your keys or (if returning home) unlacing your shoes and making a snack; it doesn't matter what you are doing, as long as you are doing something.
As you are in the process of this "something" you make or receive three phone calls. The three phone calls you participate in should be from three different people each of whom make you feel an entirely different way.
For example, first, your mom might call and ask you if you have done the dishes. After that, you might decide to call your best friend and ask if he has started working on the Biology homework yet. Lastly, you might receive a call from your school's theater teacher telling you, you have been cast as the lead role in the school play.
Make sure that throughout these calls, you continue moving through whatever tasks you would normally be performing. Let the conversations flow naturally. What would these people actually say? How would you actually react?
2. Animal MimicIf you want to become a master of stepping into a character's shoes, this game is for you.
Pick an animal that you can observe (in real life or via tv/internet). Watch the animal carefully, studying its behavior, movement, and reactions. Is it lazy? Energetic? Adventurous? Timid? How does it respond to humans and other animals? What might it be thinking?
After you observe your animal perform as it. Let go of your human instincts and embrace your animal nature! Once you get comfortable stepping into the body of this animal, perform an actual monologue as it (standing upright). What does your animal sound like? Are you hunched over or is your posture impeccable? What is your stage presence like?
After taking on a challenge like this, playing a human will seem easy!
3. Circle of ConcentrationIn this game, you imagine that there is a small circle around you (maybe ten feet across). Focus on the circle and define where it ends. For five minutes concentrate on the objects within your circle (and nothing outside of it). Without interacting with your surroundings, imagine how they feel. Are they heavy or light? Rough, smooth, or fuzzy? Do they have a certain smell?
You may feel like you aren't accomplishing much with this activity, but the whole point of it is concentration. As an actor, you must be aware of your surroundings at all times. You must know how your character will react to a particular prop or set piece. More importantly, you must interact with a prop or set piece as if it were the real thing. (Ex. if you are holding an empty coffee cup you should still feel the full weight of the liquid that is supposed to be inside. You should be able to smell the coffee).
4. The Coffee Cup GameThe coffee cup game is another great way to practice your interaction with objects, except, unlike the "Circle of Concentration," in this game you actually interact with an object. Here is what you do:
- Sit down in front of a warm mug of coffee, hot chocolate, or tea (yes, actually, don't just pretend).
- Without touching the cup, use your sense of sight and smell to figure out its size, its weight, how tastes, and how it feels.
- Pick it up. Is it as heavy as you expected. Is the mug as warm as you thought it would be? How does it fit in your hand?
- Sip your beverage and hold it in your mouth. What does it taste like?
- Swallow it and notice how it effects your body. Did you burn your tongue or throat? Did the beverage warm you up?
- Set the mug down and reflect
Now, repeat steps 3-6 without the mug. It might seem weird, but try to truly feel the mug in your hand. Taste your beverage. Recreate your reactions. After practicing this a few times, you'll become a pro and you can start applying your newfound skills elsewhere!
How else can you prepare for your acting career?
Here at Columbia College Hollywood, we believe that preparing for an acting career starts with a formal education. If you want to know how a college education can help you become a better actor, download our guide, Acting: from College to Career. It will fill you in on all the benefits a college education can provide, and give you insights into the acting profession. Just click below to find out what could be in store for you.