We’re not (just) playin’ around

We’re not (just) playin’ around

We make acting classes fun, but let’s talk about the Why behind the fun.

“What did you do in acting class today?” 

“We played games.” 

“Games? That’s it?!”

If you are the parent of a child actor, chances are at some point you have had this conversation with your child. You helped your kid memorize the homework for the class all week on top of getting them to regular school, housework, and your own job. Now all they do is play games? 

Or perhaps you are the student it’s happened to in an adult acting class. You work all week navigating the ins and outs of life and prepping your homework only to get to class to play “Zip, Zap, Zop”.

So what gives? Why do acting classes involve so many games and not just, well, acting?

Fortunately I’m here to tell you there is simply more to it!

Here at TAS we not only know acting games are critical for actors, but we know how important it is to know why they are critical.  To do this, we need to break down the types of games that can be played in class. 

The first type of game that students encounter in class is an “Introduction Game” or “Ice-Breaker Game”. These are games specifically designed to get students to open up about themselves in a way that’s fun and not daunting. They are typically only played in the first class or two so the students can get more comfortable with each other. 

The next and most common type of game is the “Warm-up Game”.  If you take any class at TAS you will know it is important for an actor to warm up their voice, face, body, and imagination. The easiest way to do that? A game!

“For an actor, a good warmup will help them relax, will help get rid of any anxieties, and will make an actor more limber up in preparation for the physical demands of a performance. [sic] Drama games and acting exercises also help actors train their voice for performance…Warmups are an essential part of any drama class and actors’ pre-performance routines”


Another benefit we have found when it comes to playing warmup games at the start of class is that it helps to ‘sync’ everyone in the room. Doesn’t matter what kind of (various) environments the students come from, playing a warmup game at the very beginning gets everyone working on the same frequency to approach the day’s lesson.

Okay, we’ve covered the games we play at the very beginning, and our strategy for warmup games… but what else? 

Well sometimes- especially with  young creatives- students get a bit squirrelly in class or find it hard to concentrate on lines when the camera is pointed at them. That’s when “Focus Games” come in handy. These games help students learn how to stay focused on different things like their lines or their scene partner while the distractions of “being on set” are happening. One of the first things our new actors learn is the importance of awareness and intentional focus. These skills are needed on a real film set, and so we practice them in class- and we teach these skills through games! 

But we haven’t even scratched the surface…

There are games like “One Word At a Time Story” that get students listening to each other and thinking quickly in order to create a sentence together.

Games like “Approach the Chair” get students moving and thinking like their characters just by having them walk to a chair and sit in it.

Games like “Create a Scene” get all the students working together and using their imaginations to create a full and detailed picture for their audience. 

Starting to understand? A game is not just playtime; when a student is ‘playing a game’ they are actually working on real acting skills, skills that our coaches are then trained to apply to their lesson and help them grow as actors.

There are so many ways games are useful to actors that The Drama Teacher compiled an article of 100 reasons students should play games. Instead of listing though I asked one of TAS’s newest coaches, Nyah Bass, what she thought about it all and I must say she gave probably one of the BEST reasons to participate in games as actors.

Coach Nyah Bass

-Before I ask you about games Nyah, let’s learn a bit more about you. What drew you to acting?

● “Ever since I was little, I was always fascinated by the framework of the entertainment industry. I was enamored with the “in front of camera” work, but once I got to high school, I started to branch off into the “behind the camera” work. I truly believe getting this perspective made me appreciate my love for acting a lot more.”

-That is an awesome perspective! So how long you have been with TAS?

● “I’ve been with The Actors Scene since 2017. I actually took my first acting class at TAS! After that, I started interning around Summer 2018; I loved it so much that I continued interning while completing my training during the years. Last year, I got the opportunity to become a coach and I’ve enjoyed my experience so far!”

-I’m so glad you stayed with us! What classes do you coach?

● My current classes are Working Actor: Taped Auditions and On-Camera Foundations

-What is your favorite thing about being a coach?

● One of my favorite things about coaching is the in-class discussions that my students and I will have; especially if a student needs more clarification or if one is really passionate about the lesson of the day. As an actor, talking to other actors, we are able to connect and I love to see when my students are eager to learn, as well as asking questions!

-What is your favorite acting/improv game and why? 

● One of my favorite acting games is Channel Surfing (where students act out various tv programs in rapid succession through different characters and genres). This is one that I just recently introduced to my students and they all have the best time! This is a great improv game and I love to see where their creativity takes them throughout.

-What is the value of actors playing/participating in games?

● The value of actors participating in these games is creating a certain sense of trust between everyone. For example, warm up games set the mood and get everyone on the same wavelength for the rest of the class time. Also, I love to explain the significance of the game even before we play it; this answers the “why?” in students’ heads, but also lets everyone be on the same page about the game’s goal.

-Sometimes people can come to class with a single frame of mind. They can feel blindsided by our focus on games. What would you say to someone who thinks it’s “a waste of time” playing these games?

● To someone who would think in-class games are a “waste of time”, as I said earlier, it creates not only trust but encourages teamwork among students. Most, if not all, of these weekly games require multiple students at a time to work effectively. I will always give students time to collaborate and exchange ideas while playing games. 

-Do you have a “go to” game in class if there is extra time and why?

One of my “go to” games in class is Alien/ Gibberish Translator Interview. This is one of my favorite improv games because it requires quick thinking and big creativity from all parties!

Trust. There are lots of great reasons for actors to play games, but trust is one of the most important ones. If you can’t trust the people you are working with, creating with, and on set with then all of your talent is kind of worthless. Acting games teach actors to confidently trust themselves and their team. 

If you want to dive into more games that will build skills while having fun, check out TAS’s Improv classes available to students young and old. Or to learn more about the awesome classes Nyah teaches, visit our website that gives you an in depth look at the class details. Start learning to trust at TAS! 

Ready to get started? Reach out today!



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About The Author

Kirsten Krehbiel

Kirsten Krehbiel is an Atlanta based actress, director, and writer who enjoys bringing people new truths through the art of storytelling. She has a love of acting both on camera and on stage, having been lucky enough to be a part of incredible productions in both worlds. Kirsten joined the TAS team in 2020 as a coach, a job she loves because it lets her watch first hand as students grow and gain self confidence as actors. When she is not creating or coaching, you can find Kirsten hanging out with her grumpy cat on their back porch. 

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