15 Games & Exercises to Improve Acting Skills

15 Games & Exercises to Improve Acting Skills

Games and exercises help improve your acting skills profoundly.

It’s fun, makes you fearless, improves consternation, enhances imagination and so much more.

1. Painting the Fence

Hand holding a paint brush

This exercise is fun and a sure way to improve your acting skills. 

It’s aimed at developing your hands.

Can be practiced alone or with other people. By the way, You won’t paint a real fence.

It’s commonly used in theaters.

Instructions 

You will use your hand as a brush.

Then paint an imaginary wall.

Touch an invisible wall with your palms and fingers.

Drag an invisible rope.

And lastly, row a boat. 

2. The Man On A Bus Stop

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This exercise develops your imagination. It will allow you to think in the moment of the play.

Imagination is the key to Stanislavski’s system as it is essential to turn what is occurring on stage into theatrical reality, if the play is not turned into theatrical reality it is not realistic and not acting.

Acting is an exercise in the use of imagination by the actor to achieve a certain and specific reality based on artificial circumstances given by a writer. 

If you want to be successful in this industry, you must develop your imagination and work on it continuously.

This exercise can be practiced alone or with other people. 

Instructions 

Go outside and look at passers-by, People lined up, on the bus, in airports, etc…

Make your own assumptions about them: Profession, talents, hobbies, marital status, health, and much more. Use your imagination, don’t guess.

3. Non-stop

non stop movie cover image

We are not talking about the movie Non-Stop by Liam Neeson. 

“ A US air marshal receives threatening messages demanding that his airline transfer 150 million dollars to an offshore account, in the absence of which the passengers of his flight will be killed ”.

That is a good movie though, A Mighty Actor recommendation.

Non-stop exercises help improve your improv skills.

Instruction 

You have to present a monologue on a topic without preparation or stopping in the middle. 

This should be done in 3 – 5 minutes.

You need to sound confident and natural like you’ve known it for a long time.

Try to do as many as you can, you will improve with time. No pun intended.

4. Mnemonics

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Mnemonics help us remember facts and are particularly useful when the order of things is important.

It can be practiced alone or in groups.

If individually, then the person simply writes down 20-30 unrelated words. 

If you’re in a group,  someone asks each participant to name a few words and write them all.

Instruction 

Read the words many times. At first, it should be read slowly.

Associate the words with pictures. 

The association should have some form of connection. Make it a wild, weird connection so as to never forget it.

Example.

Piano, Table, and Lamp.

So Imagine a frozen piano on a gold table next to a lamp on fire.

5. Stroking an animal

Often used in Acting classes for beginners.

Practiced in groups.

Instruction 

Everyone receives a piece of paper with the name of an animal. It can be a lion, shark, cat, elephant, dog, bird etc…

Each person chooses an animal he/she wants and imagines holding and stroking it.

The rest of the participants then have to guess which animal it is.

6. What Were They Wearing?

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This exercise develops attention and helps you become more present. 

Well-developed attention picks up everything. Emotion, experience, details, and much more of a person right after they look at them.

Can be practiced alone or in a group.

Instruction 

Individually: Close your eyes and try to remember what the person next to you is wearing, hairstyles, and other details as well.

In a group: Participants sit in a circle and must remember who was wearing what. Then the host can start asking questions like:

Natnael, what was the color of Selena’s shoes? etc…

7. The “Machine” of emotions

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The “ machine “ of emotions, as the name implies is associated with desired emotions.

Instruction 

Get a piece of paper and write down situations that invoke certain emotions. like anger, disgust, fear, happiness, and sadness.

Then create an image in your mind and associate that with emotion. This way you can get The “machine” of emotions.

This technique will help you anytime you need to act out the said emotions.

8. Games

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Games are a well-known and expressive way to improve your body language. One of the best body language movements for actors is leaning in. 

Games help you use your body to describe different people, phrases, materials, and such. 

Eg. the Crocodile game and the Alias game.

9. “Role model”

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A role model in your life is always a good idea to inspire yourself to achieve success. 

Having a role model in life can help you improve your acting skills and your attitude towards it. 

Emulating an actor’s speech, gesture, voice, emotions, and movements in your own ways helps you improve your acting.

Who is your favorite actor/actress?

Check their works and that to imitate in detail what they have done, in your own way. Keep practicing and you will see yourself growing every time.

10. The Roles

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This is an exercise where you have to think of possible reasons why a person is doing something or invoking an emotion. 

Eg. If you see a person crying, think of possible reasons for this scenario :

He/she fell down, he/she got fired, he/she has something in his eye, he/she lost someone, etc…

11. The Change of Roles

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This exercise is diverse. It will help you get accustomed to different acting roles. An actor may need to learn something new for each role. 

After you have developed the skill of acting in many roles you can quickly and easily change the nature of your speech and the shape of the material.

Instruction 

In this exercise, you will be asked to try acting 5 very different roles.

  1. A lively Doctor
  2. A homeless man
  3. A angry police officer
  4. A active athlete 
  5. A loving girlfriend

Start with the first and work your way down. Go through each one for about 1 minute. 

Once you have played all 5 characters your partner evaluates you from 1 to 10 and gives you feedback.

Only when you get 10/10 in all 5 do you switch the roles you undertake. Until then keep practicing and improving in roles you have not performed well.

12. The Chair

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The chair is an exercise that targets your imagination. If you want to have fun while doing the exercise, it’s better to be in a group.

Instruction

The group must sit around one chair and come up with forty ways to build/make a chair.  Eg. Plastic chair, Wooden chair, Glass chair, etc..

After all 40 ideas are presented, you can choose another object and proceed as the previous example.

This exercise will help you in forming new ideas at a notice.

13. Interview

This exercise helps develop your improv skills. It will teach you how to carry yourself better and gain confidence.

Instruction

First, ask your colleagues not friends to prepare several personal questions that require detailed answers.

These questions should be personalized and unexpected.

You should answer these questions fast, clearly, and confidently. Use your emotion and body language to your advantage.

Finally, ask your colleague for some feedback.

14. “Words starting with….”

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This exercise develops your concentration and makes you attentive to small details.

Instruction

Choose any letter from the alphabet “ A, B, C, D, E, F, G …” and look around and try to find objects that start with the letter. 

You have to do this in 60 seconds.

End goal: Come up with 50 objects or more in 1 minute.

15. Mirror

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As the saying goes, Repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment.

The aim is to mirror what someone says or does. 

Instruction

Open a movie or a video of someone’s style you would like to adopt.

Try your best to capture what that person does and says, then mirror/emulate it. But incorporate your own style.

Do it over and over again until you are satisfied with your own result.

The minimum time you should give yourself for this task is 15 minutes.

Conclusion 

These 15 games and exercises will definitely improve your acting skills and techniques.

You can practice then whenever you feel like it.

Almost all of the games are still taught in Acting schools.

Have fun!

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