Drama is not only one of the most liberating ways to express oneself, but it can also act as a great tool for reducing stress. Just like laughter therapy, communicating one’s feelings and emotions through drama is known to be extremely therapeutic. And we all could use some therapy in this troubled time.
Here are 5 drama exercises that you can do with your children to help relieve stress, in you and them:
No, I do not mean the evil stepmother’s infamous mirror. In this exercise, you pair up with your child; one becomes the mirror and the other becomes the image. As the ‘mirror’ and ‘image’ stand facing each other, they make actions such as waving, stretching etc. The audience (rest of the family members) has to then guess between the ‘mirror’ and the ‘image’.
Pro tip: Practice a few movements with your partner before putting on the show in front of the audience.
What better a way to step into each other’s shoes than, to step into it! Role-play continues to be one of the most effective drama techniques for improving interpersonal relationships. Role-play is not just about fun – children acquire a number of skills in the process which aids them to build social skills, develop language skills, explore their own creativity & imagination and learn to see things from someone else’s perspective.
For younger children, role – play ideas could include impersonating people, professions, re-creating what they may watch on television etc.
For older children, try a little more advanced topics such as Fire Rescue or channeling their inner Freedom Fighter and have them perform in front of the in-house audience.
For when you are out of words, a Mime exercise comes to the rescue. To put it simply, Mime is acting without talking. Here the objective is to convey the message to the other, just like you would in charades.
For younger children, start small with activities they would do in their everyday routine – brushing their teeth, eating a banana, doing homework etc. Make sure you play out a few simple actions for them to guess so that they understand the idea of the exercise.
For older children, give them specific situations and ask them to come up with a sequence of actions, such as ‘Dining out at the Restaurant’ or ‘Going for a haircut’. Ask them to play out the minutest of details, just like they would in a real situation.
4. Off to a far-away land
Nothing builds a child’s imagination than letting it run free; and the same holds for adults too. Ask your child where he / she would like to go, for example the park, the beach etc.
Along with your child, prepare to go to the specific place and carry all the things that you would need there:
Example: At the Beach
– What do we need at the beach? ( hat, sunglasses, sunscreen lotion, football etc)
– How would you like to go there? (rocket, bus, cycle, train etc.)
– What would you like to do there? (build a sand castle, eat ice cream, jump on the waves etc.)
Remember to bring them ‘back’ home from their virtual place.
For older children, the same game can be played but with more difficult topics such as Lost in the Jungle or Mission to Mars. Encourage them to come up with a script and enact it for you.
5. Story enactment with costumes & props
Now I know this may sound absurd but believe me, it is the most fun you will have. And this is also a great way to teach a particular story or a lesson in History perhaps. And the best part of this story enactment is that you already have a script to begin with!
Let us take the nursery rhyme ‘ Old Mcdonald had a farm’ for an example. By making different animal masks or even different animal headgears, not only will the children learn a great deal but you too will enjoy spending stress-free time with them.
For older children, ask them to recreate a scene from their Shakespearean drama or a chapter from their reading book. Encourage them to use whatever is available at home in the way of costumes & props.
Try these above exercises and enjoy a stress-free evening with your child.
Speech & Drama Trainer and Theatre Enthusiast