By Amy Harder
It’s my all-time favorite warm-up game!!! (Seriously, have you gone to one of my movement classes lately?) This silly exercise does more than just warm up your muscles, it forces you to let go of your inhibitions. Think about it for a minute–if you are inhibited in your puppetry performance, then you are trapped by your own brain and will not be able to flow freely and let the character emerge. SO… take a few minutes and be silly with your friends!
Set-up. Stand comfortably and make sure you have a little space to move around. I suggest moving away from chairs and tables (unless you are particularly fond of bruises.) And you’ll want some space between you and other puppeteers around you.
Action. In this exercise, we will be “drawing” figure eights in the air with various body parts. Since we are puppeteers, let’s begin with loosening up those puppet-related muscles of the hands and arms. Bend your right arm up and point your right index finger out away from you and make an ‘8′ movement in the air. Isolate the movement to just your finger. Now can you go the other way? Can you lay the ‘8′ on its side and draw it horizontally? Try these same movements with the left index finger. Then try both fingers in tandem. …and then opposite ways.
By now, your group should be experiencing some random giggling as this is quite a silly and apparently pointless task. So, change it up. Try the movement with extended arms out forward or to the sides. Vary the size and direction of the motion. Now try making the movement with just shoulders. Remember, loose muscles are vital to free-flowing performances.
Figure eights can be drawn with almost any body part. Toes. Kneecaps. Noses. Heads. But now its time to get really silly. Remember what I said about letting go of your inhibitions? Try drawing the ‘8′ in the air with–my favorite–your pelvis. Now, everybody’s got to try this or it won’t work! Can you make the ‘8′ vertically? How about horizontally? How about parallel to the floor? …sideways?
The possibilities are nearly limitless when you try moving different parts in the ‘8′ movement. If you don’t believe me, just try to see how many eights you can get going simultaneously!