Are you a budding actor? Or maybe you prefer to work behind the scenes? Become the performer, writer or costume designer you’ve always wanted to be from the comfort of your living room – all while working towards your therapy goals.
We have put together this short three-part blog where we give you the tools to map a story, design a costume, and act out your very own stage-show. You can choose to do one activity or all three!
Benefits of drama as therapy
Drama therapy uses play, story, performance, improvisation and creative thinking techniques to support people living with disability to achieve their therapy goals.
In this short three-part blog, all activities are designed to support clients as they work towards their therapy goals by providing them with the opportunity to:
- Express their feelings
- Develop social and relationship skills
- Work through problems
- Increase their sense of spontaneity
- Build their confidence and self-esteem
- Tell a story
- Improve written and verbal communication skills
Part 1 - Writing
Unleash your Inner Storyteller and develop your written communication skills...
A great writer starts by mapping out their story – so let’s give it a go! Download our story map template or draw your own template. If you don’t feel like writing, you could even draw your ideas.
Step 1: What’s your big idea?
Let your imagination run wild. Maybe you woke up on a planet in outer space or perhaps you want to tell a story based on a real-life experience you’ve had.
Step 2: Develop the main character (the protagonist) and setting
Who is the main character and where are they? Maybe it’s an animal we’ve never seen before who’s been living underground or you’ve travelled back in time to the old days.
Step 3: The opening scene
Expand on what is unique about the main character and what they are doing? Maybe they just found a volcano full of diamonds or are they building a new rocket ship in their bedroom?
Step 4: The problem character (the antagonist)
This is a great place to introduce a new character! Think of a new character that creates a problem for the main character. Maybe a giant bird swoops down and steals their lunch or perhaps dinosaurs begin invading the earth.
Here are two examples of some of our all-time favourite stories, which have incorporated a ‘problem’ for the main character and might inspire your story. Creating a problem for your character is a great way to keep your audience engaged.
- Little Red Riding Hood – read it here or watch it here
- Jack and The Bean Stalk – read it here or watch it here
Step 5: The resolution
Now ask yourself which character saves the day? Maybe the main character discovers a hidden superpower or perhaps another character is introduced in the mix.
Step 6: The final scene
Now it’s time to think about the ending. What happened to the characters after the problem was resolved? Maybe the ‘problem character’ learnt a valuable lesson in honesty or being kind to others.
Nice work! You have just completed what we call a ‘Story Map’. This is how writers and directors start when they have a new idea for an upcoming production.
The benefits of storytelling
Storytelling is a great form of Creative Therapy and its benefits are endless. By allowing your kid to be in control of the story, you are giving them the opportunity to express their emotions without having to talk about them, which is a fantastic stress reliever. As your kid incorporates another character into the story, they are learning to use their imagination and think beyond themselves while developing their creative thinking and problem-solving skills. Putting their thoughts on paper activates the neurons in their brain, which inspires productivity even after they have finished writing.
Part 2 - Costume Design
Develop your creative thinking through costume design...
Here you are going to tap into your artistic side as you design a costume for the character in the great story you just planned; or if you didn’t complete part 1, you can pick your favourite movie character. All you need is some coloured pencils and a printer. If you don’t have a printer, you can draw your own templates.
The role of a costume designer is to make accessories and clothing for actors in film, theatre and television productions. As a costume designer, it’s important to draft multiple options for yourself. This gives you a chance to compare your designs and choose the best one, which is a great way to develop your decision-making skills.
Step 1: Design three options for your chosen character – remember to be creative and have fun!
Step 2: Once you have finished drawing your designs, think about how each design relates to the character, such as their age and personality.
Step 3: Now select the final design based on which one is best suited to the character. Costume designers often pick a costume for a character based on the role and personality of their character rather than only what ‘looks the best’.
Step 4: It’s up to you if you’d like to turn your mask into something you can wear. One way is to glue a pop stick or straw to each side, so you can hold it up to your face.
Therapeutic benefits of designing costumes
Designing costumes is a fantastic way for your kid to express themselves as well as reap great therapeutic benefits. Design engages your kid with their creative side, which releases endorphins in their body and makes them feel happy and ready to combat negative emotions. As they are sketching those awesome designs, they are improving their fine motor skills. Seeing their completed work can provide them with a sense of accomplishment, which can also boost their confidence and self-esteem.
Part 3 - Acting
Express yourself through acting...
Below is an activity where you can practise some of the skills you’ve been learning at Novita. Maybe you’ve been working on your confidence, language and communication skills or perhaps you’ve been building your physical agility and want to put these fantastic skills to use. Here’s your chance, let’s get started!
Tip: When you are acting, it’s important to understand all personality traits of your character, such as how they walk and talk as well as what their role is in the story.
Step 1: Let’s think of two characters in a story who have opposite personalities; for example Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf.
Step 2: Try acting out the below phrase in a way you think the Wolf would act. Remember to think about the tone of your voice, your body language and the expressions on your face (hint: the Wolf isn’t very nice).
Phrase: “I am going out to look for some lunch; I wonder what I will find!”
Step 3: Now repeat the phrase taking on all characteristics of Little Red Riding Hood (hint: Little Red Riding Hood is very polite). Wow – I bet they sound very different – this is what we call ‘character development’.
This exercise shows us that when we are acting, it’s not always about the words we say but how we say it. It’s important to remember this when we are communicating with the people in our own life, whether it be a teacher, parent, therapist or friend.
Step 4: If you’re buzzing for another chance to practise your acting, you can act out the great story you just mapped out! How about you play the main character and get your parent or carer to play the problem character. Once you have finished acting out the story, look at how you can apply the lesson learnt in the final scene. If it was about being kind to others, perhaps you could make a card and post it to a friend.
Benefits of creative expression through acting
Acting encourages self-awareness; as your kid learns to listen to others before giving a response, they are developing their social skills. By engaging physically with their body, they are becoming more comfortable with themselves. Engaging with others through storytelling supports your kid’s understanding of the world around them while providing them with the opportunity to express their feelings through the character they are playing.
You’re on your way to Broadway!
You have learnt so many valuable skills while continuing to work towards your therapy goals. By mapping a story from start to finish, designing a costume piece and staging your own show and acting in it, you have developed new ways to communicate your thoughts, feelings and ideas whilst building your creativity, problem solving and social skills.
Our Drama to Connect School Holiday Therapy Group is on again this school holidays and is a great way to continue working towards your therapy goals and having fun at the same time!