Overcome Shyness By Embracing The Fun Of “Overdramatic”
Have you seen shy kids struggling to share their full essence in life and on the stage? Often even outgoing kids hold back, afraid of being too overdramatic and embarrassing themselves. This keeps kids from sharing their full range of emotions and from becoming the actors they are anxious to become. Maybe they mumble their lines or they hang their head and hide their faces? Maybe they try to be such serious actors that they end up muted and hesitant?
I love finding ways for kids to shine. Learning about high stakes helps a lot. When stakes are high, actors suddenly increase their volume, engagement, and start to shine. But how do you increase the stakes and get actors past their fears of being “overdramatic”?
One acting improv game seemed to help more than all others: “It’s Tuesday!”
“It’s Tuesday” give actors permission to be as loud, big, as funny as they are at home, and it does this in a way that seems to engage even the most hesitant performers. Repeating a calm line but saying it in a big, dramatic, loud way immediately gives actors permission to let go of their fears, gives them new ideas, and sets them on a journey towards discovery.
How to Play “It’s Tuesday”
It’s Tuesday is delightfully simple!
Rule 1: Always repeat the last line the calm line your acting partner said.
Rule 2: When you repeat your partner’s line, you must be as loud and emotional as possible. This is where all of the fun is in this exercise! You can be excited, scared, angry, or any emotion that comes to mind, as long as you make it a big, dramatic choice! Jump in big, and then keep going, adding more ideas and details!
Rule 3: End with one calm, quiet line. This can still be an intense moment, but it is lower stakes, perhaps a possible solution to your problem. Your turn does not end until you’ve said one calm thing. Your partner will repeat that calm thing as dramatically as possible and keep going.
To get the class started, I always like to show an example myself, either with one of the students or with an assistant. It gets everyone laughing and gives them permission to be big.
Then have two actors take the stage to work in a pair. The first actor delivers the line “It’s Tuesday” in a very neutral, calm way– the exact way you would remark which day of the week it is!
The fun comes in when the second actor responds. Their job is to take the mundane line “It’s Tuesday” and respond in the biggest and most dramatic way they can. Repeating the line is a big help, since it takes away the worries of what to say at first, and let’s them focus on being loud and big.
The stakes of their line should be incredibly high and the actor should be very impassioned about what they are saying. This happens naturally within this game. Encourage them to keep going, adding details, establishing the importance of what they’re saying, and justifying why their acting is so heightened.
At the end of their turn, actor 2 calms down and delivers a mundane, neutral line for actor 1 to respond to.
They then continue on, switching roles as the first actor repeats the one calm line, raising the stakes yet again, and so on, and so on.
Sounds fun, right? Let’s take a look at some example scenes!
Actor 1: (calmly) “It’s Tuesday.”
Actor 2: (yelling anxiously) “It’s Tuesday? Tuesday was the day I was supposed to turn in my science project and I didn’t even start it yet. My Mom’s going to be so mad at me and the teacher will be disappointed and I am going to be so embarrassed.”(Now, the actor delivers a calm, quieter line with lower stakes.) “I suppose I could just stay home tomorrow.”
Actor 1: (Yelling, unbelieving) “You can just stay home tomorrow?! Tomorrow is the day that you were going to introduce me to your friends. You know tomorrow is my first day in a new school. What will I do without you there? It’s going to be terrible. No one will talk to me. I’ll have to sit alone at lunch.” (calmly) “If you stay home tomorrow, I will, too.”
Actor 2: (yelling excitedly) “If I stay home tomorrow, you will, too?! That’s great! We can pretend that we’re sick and then meet up and you can help me finish my science project! It will be so much faster with two of us! And then when we get back to school, we’ll be refreshed, ready to face the world, and I’ll be in such a good mood everyone!” (calmly) “Besides, I read somewhere that Thursdays are the best days to make new friends.”
Actor 1: (calmly) “It’s Tuesday.”
Actor 2: (yelling with terror) “It’s Tuesday? What!! That means that today is the day that I was supposed to bake 200 cupcakes for my best friend’s birthday party, but I completely forgot!! The party is in half an hour, so there’s no way I can make them all in time now!! She’s going to be so mad at me and we’ll never be friends again! (Calmly) I guess I can go buy cupcakes instead.”
Actor 1: (Yelling, unbelieving) “Buy the cupcakes instead?? From a bakery?? Oh no!! My Mom runs runs the only bakery in town and she’s sick. I was supposed to cover for her but I forgot to bake the cupcakes today! I overslept this morning, and there’s no way I’ll get them all baked before you need them. (with quiet intensity) If we work together, we can get those cupcakes baked and I’ll only charge you half price. “
Actor 2: (yelling excitedly) “If we work together we can get the cupcakes baked and you’ll only charge me half price!? What a great deal! You’ve saved me! I’m forever in our debt. My friend won’t ever know! I’ll grab my apron right now and we can get started! (calmly, serenely) You and I will be a great team.”
Actor 1: (Yelling gleefully) “You and I will be a great team? I think we might be such a great team we can start our business! We’ll have shops in every city in ever state and maybe even a bake shop on the moon!” (Calmly) “I’ve always wanted to fly to the moon.”
The two actors continue on, always dramatically repeating the line the other actor had said calmly, continuing to develop the scene, allowing it to grow, and always ending with one calm, quiet statement.
It is very helpful to allow the students to continue for quite a bit, as it allows them to enjoy the drastic changes in intensity and to push themselves even further outside of their comfort zones as they get to come up with more creative and absurd twists to their topic.
Try it out in your class, with your kids, or with friends.
Also, check out our latest Instagram post for more examples and tips! Our social media pages are full of fun improv games and sneak peaks into how we run our classes, so make sure to give us a follow while you’re there.
Written by Garden Players instructors Betina Hershey and Paige Levy.
– Betina Hershey runs Garden Players classes, teaches private lessons, acting improv, songwriting, musical theater techniques, audition preparation, writes musicals that have been published and performed in over 65 countries around the world, and has performed in musicals and bands worldwide. Her students go on to attend La Guardia H.S., Frank Sinatra, Talent Unlimited, Professional Performing Arts School, and more.
Contact Betina to schedule a consultation or private coaching now or sign up for acting improv classes at the link below.
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