Gather in a circle and ask a volunteer to move into the center and make a simple sound and motion that can be repeated comfortably; this is the first piece of the machine. Player 1 continues while other players add on to the machine with their own sounds and motions. Ideally, each player’s motions should relate to what the other players are doing—as the pieces of a machine do. When everyone has joined in, freeze the action and ask individual players to comment their creation.
- How would you describe our machine?
- How did each player add to it?
- What does this machine say about our theme?
- What happens when one part of the machine is taken away?
- “Keep doing your sound and motion so others can join in!”
- “When you see a place to add on, jump in!”
- "Make sure to choose a sound/motion that is repeatable for an extended period of time."
- "Try to find a movement that engages your whole body, not just your hands and arms."
- "Remember that our machine does not have to be a straight line, try to use the space 3-dimensionally."
Machines can be silent, or include sound.
Create machines w/ themes (school, etc.) Try taking out a piece of a machine & observe the effect (a nice metaphor for interdependence).
Create machines that directly relate to systems you are exploring in your curriculum (the water cycle, how a bill becomes a law, fight/flight response in the the body).
In order to reduce the pressure on students to think of sounds and motions themselves, you can ask the group "What would be a good motion for 'evaporation?' Ok great, now who would like to come over here and do that motion for evaporation?" You can also have multiple students be the same part of the cycle to include more students and reduce risk for any reluctant studnents.
Break into smaller groups and have each group create the same type of machine (either imagined, like "The Pet Care Machine" or curriculum-based like "The Water Cycle." Once groups have created their machines, have them share with the class. Note the similarities and differences.
It can be fun to play around with speeding the machine up and slowing it down to get students tuning into each other's rhythm and working as a group.
Spolin, Viola. Theatre Games for the Classroom: A Teacher’s Handbook. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1986. Print.
Spolin, Viola. Improvisation for the Theatre: A Handbook of Teaching and Directing Techniques. 3rd ed. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1999. Print.