At the Museum
I learned this drama activity decades ago in an acting class. I have never seen anything written about it, or ever seen it done by anyone else since. Therefore I have no idea if I am doing it “right”. Think of it as the oral tradition. Feel free to alter as you wish. I recommend watching all of the videos after you read; I think you will have a clear picture as to how to do the activity, and more importantly, how to adapt it to your own situation. Of course you can contact me with any questions or suggestions.
I have used it periodically with my mainstream drama students as a training game for observation, as well as a memory game. As an English language teaching activity it represents my approach to adapting mainstream drama activities so the become a more focused on developing language.
The basics are this: The location is a museum. Any museum will do, and indeed with my language students we first begin by listing all the museums we have been to, as well as types of museums there are (setting up a context is important with language learners). Art, Science and Technology, History, Natural history, Aquariums, Biography based, War museums, Sports museums, all are fair game for this activity. The first student enters the “space” in front of the audience. They create a simple movement sequence of one specific action that can happen at a museum (looking at a painting, putting on glasses, anything.) Then they leave. Actor number two comes on stage, and as best as they can, repeats as completely as possible, the action of the first person. They then add another single movement idea. Then they leave. Actor number 3 will enter, repeat actor one’s movement sequence, then actor 2, then add another. You get the idea. This continues as long as your class can handle it. I usually find 6-10 sequences are enough before we begin again, with a new set of actors.
Now that’s the basics. To turn it into a language sequence I did this: same deal, actor one enters, does a movement sequence. This time each student writes down on a provided worksheet, or in a notebook, what s/he observes that the action is. In my class students can, and in fact are encouraged to talk to each other as they write, in a collaborative way. This continues with each sequence. This is video one which takes us through 3 “actions” that could happen at a museum.
For the second video example I pre-selected three students to call out the actions that they had written down as an actor came on stage.
Video three: after we got to six, we had an actor come out, with the class this time calling out the sequences as the actor went through them. This allows my more reluctant students to be calling out in a group, rather than taking the risk of calling out alone. The videos show the different stages we went through to get to this point.
The fourth video is the pared down version that show the activity as more of a memory game, without the aid of students calling out to support the actor. Whether this helps with language development I cannot say, but students enjoy the challenge.
The final video shows an extension we contrived that was at the request of one of the students. “Can we make a scene out of it?”. Who am I to go against the wind? Great suggestion and it shows how enthusiastic students are about drama. We decided on groups of 3 or 4 that would create a scene, with speaking, at a specific museum using 3 or 4 of the actions that were written down. I include one example video that takes place at a Soccer museum.