The Exceptional Actors Program has been featured multiple times on NPR.
In April of 2017, The Centers for Disease Control invited The Exceptional Actors Program to be featured at The CDC's The Annual Autism Awareness event. Our actors performed an improv showcase during the Autism Through the Arts portion of the event (and received a standing ovation).
There is a direct correlation between improvisational theatre and basic social skills. Improv acting encourages, improves, and strengthens the following. . .
Intent listening Appropriate reactions Controlling emotions Creativity Recognizing non-verbal communication Adjusting to situations Effective communication Spontaneity Cooperation Problem solving Confidence Ability to handle conflict Flexibility
The Exceptional Student Group's Improv Program provides a safe and supportive environment for children and teens to explore their confidence in social situations, to utilize fun and practice to develop behaviors through role play, to identify emotions, to encourage memory, to encourage team play, and, of course, have fun!
Improv activities include, but are not limited to. . .
Yoga - Basic yoga and focused breathing encourages body awareness and prepares students for acting exercises, because you act with your body.
Showing Emotion - Students are instructed to walk around and explore their environment. The instructor will call out different emotions or feelings and the students will act out each emotion. Toward the end of this exercise, the instructor may ask for a few volunteers to silently display different emotions or feelings while the other students guess the feeling. The instructor will then lead a brief discussion about whatever emotion or feeling is being displayed. What visual cues (facial expression, body posture) told the audience of other actors about the emotion or feeling? For example, "frustrated" may involve a clenched jaw, foot tapping, crossed arms, or pacing - "proud" can be shown by holding one's chin up and sticking out one's chest.
Music - The instructor will play different types of music and encourage the students to move around the room, allowing the music to inspire them. However the music makes them feel, that is how they should move within the space. There is no wrong way to move, just move with whatever emotion the music makes you feel. Different styles of music (rock, bluegrass, opera, electronic, blues, or swing) will inspire different emotions and different movement with each individual.
Stories - In this exercise, the entire group works together to tell a story. Everyone sits in a circle and one actor tells one sentence of a story. Another actor adds more information to the story by adding another sentence, until everyone has contributed to the overall story. Once the group has told a few stories, the instructor may pair students up, provide the first sentence of a story, and have each pair take turns adding to the story. All of the stories start with the same sentence, but each pair of actors will create a unique narrative. For example, if four groups comprised of two students each start to tell a story with the following sentence, "Todd was walking through the woods and he heard a strange noise." Each group will work together to make a story that is different from the other pairs of actors.
Straight scenes are basic improv scenes without an improv game added; each scene tells a story. The instructor will take suggestions from the class and "plug" them into the scene for the actors to improvise and act out. Typically, the instructor will get three suggestions. Who are these actors? (ninjas, doctors, astronauts, farmers) Where are they? (Target, on another planet, in a castle, in a giant tub of popcorn) What is going on? (It is raining marshmallows, they are lost, their bikes have flat tires). Once the suggestions are taken and the actors are informed, they act out the scenario, which is usually ridiculous and silly.
New Kid - This involves two actors, one is the new kid at school; the other actor asks the new kid questions (Where are you from? Do you have a pet? What is your favorite color?). The new kid answers the questions while also listening to the instructor, who is changing the new kid's emotions. While answering the questions, the new kid may change his or her feeling from excited to scared to bored, etc. . .. This game focuses on listening, expression, and emotional mastery.
Remote Control - This game is played by actors acting out a scene, while also listening to the instructor, who has an imaginary remote control. Throughout the scene, actors will be asked to pause, rewind, fast forward, slow motion, etc. . .. The focus of this improv game is listening, retaining information, recall, and spatial awareness. If an actor sits in a chair and "reverse" is called, the actor must reverse the scene and get out of the chair. When the instructor calls "forward," the actor will then "re-act" by sitting in the chair and continuing the scene. This improv game focuses on retention and recall, spatial awareness, listening, and body awareness.
Repeat Scene With Direction - In this game, the actors perform a brief scene that is repeated, with some direction from the instructor. The actors may repeat the same basic scene with British accents, as superheroes, as if they are all sleepwalking, or whatever input the instructor gets from the other actors in the class. This game improves retention, recall, sequencing, and spatial awareness.
There are numerous other improv games, these are just a few basic ones that, in our experience, are a great toosl to sharpen skills that some kids with learning differences may need to improve (expressing and controlling emotion, recall, listening, sequencing, ability to deal with difficult situations, spatial awareness, flexibility, etc. . . ).
Please contact Andy Jones for classes in your area. (404) 697.0198 firstname.lastname@example.org