By Amy Harder
We love warm-up games that get brains going as well. This little exercise will force players to concentrate on their words, actions, and timing within the group. It’s a really simple game, but it’s certain to be a fun way to get your puppet rehearsals going.
Set up. Gather your group into a circle - - sitting or standing, it doesn’t matter. Instruct your players that they will be passing a simple pattern around the circle.
Action. Before you introduce the actions, set the pattern in motion around the circle. The first player says, Big fish. The second player says, Little fish. The third repeats, Big fish. The fourth continues with, Little fish. And so on. When the pattern has made it around the circle, your group should be looking at you like you’re nuts. What’s the point of this? It’s now time to add the hand motions with the words.
When players say, Big fish, they should hold up their hands in front of them, but only about 2 or 3 inches apart, as if they’re showing off a guppy. When players say, Little fish, they should hold up their hands wide like they’ve caught a whopper. Now set the pattern in motion again, this time with the actions. See if it’s so easy THIS time.
When a player misses, either by saying or doing the wrong thing, that person is out.
Variation. If the pattern pass is too easy for your group, consider allowing players at their turn to choose either Big fish, where they do the small motion and play continues around the circle, or they could choose Little fish, where they do the big motion but the direction of the play reverses. This will really keep your students on their toes!
Puppet Variation. After your team has played this game themselves, pass out puppets with two rods and have the puppets play the game. This is a great way to help students with double rod manipulation skills and puppet characterizations. Encourage puppeteers to use appropriate character voices and acting skills as the puppets watch and interact with other puppets in the circle.
Wrap up. Even warm-up games can be good tools for developing multiple skills. This game requires concentration, timing, acting in spite of incongruencies (actions don’t match words), and following the cues of others (especially with the first variation). It’s a fun exercise with great benefits.