• Exploring neutral body

  • Act React

  • Contact Improvisation

  • Energy Tails

  • Grotowski's Lanes

  • Kinesthetic Walks

  • Drumming

  • Laban's 8 Efforts

  • Sound & Movement



  • Understanding what you are saying
  • The step process
  • Breaking the play into sense blocks
  • Inverting the text: Discovering Iambic Pentemeter
  • Imaging
  • Spatial Configurations: Blocking
  • Spatial Relationships
  • Character objectives



  • Students begin walking around the space
  • Every time you clap they change pace; fast, moderate or slow.
  • Upon instruction they are freeze and find a partner.
  • As they are walking, instruct person A to walk behind/follow their partner B and begin to mimic their walk.
  • They will be guided to mimic their pace; to discover how their partner places the weight on their feet (heels, balls, arches etc) what part of the body they lead with, whether they have a light or heavy walk, how are they balanced, how their breath is affected by this transition etc.
  • Once person A has got a good grasp on person B’s walk, all B’s in the class will be asked to go to the out skirts of the room and observe their partner mimicking their walk.
  • Exaggerate it
  • Repeat the exercise so that B follows A and mimics their walk
  • Discuss this process – addressing variety of movement that separate’s ones individual walk from the other.
  • Discuss how these ‘differences’ can generally be placed in three categories; weight [heavy or light], pace [swift, sustained] or space [direct, indirect]. [Which can lead onto Laban’s 8 Efforts] 
  • Once they are aware of the level of ‘animation’ or ‘characterization’ that is already apart of their everyday walk – get them to jump back up in the space and begin to strip that
  • Draw their attention to the weight that they lead with, any everyday actions/fidgeting, try to strip everything back to a state of neutral.
  • This becomes their pallet for the beginnings of exploring character.



Form an inner circle and an outer circle

  • During this exercise upon cue – the outer circle moves around clockwise

  • Begin the exercise by observing from the feet up the partner you are working with. The weight of their energy, then look into their eyes and breath in their energy. Be there for them, not in the past or the future, but right there and then. Let them know you will listen to them, you are there to work with them, to support them in this moment.

  • Inner circle is partner A and outer circle is partner B.

  • Partner A will begin – but offering a sound and movement [There is no emotion to be conveyed]

  • The sound and movement is received by partner B who grows that and sends back a variation of the sound and movement they received.

  • This non-verbal language continues to grow and fall between the partners.

  • Aprox. a minute, then rotate the circle

  • Focus up again

  • Repeat the exercise – encouraging the students to explore how another’s energy ‘grow you’  – to take you beyond the confinements of your own energy circle – the students will begin to discover different qualities of energy and move and respond in ways that are so vastly different from the way you have ever moved before.




  •  Staggered in a line from one end of the space to the other.

  • Person at one end begins a sound and a movement and then will send a new sound and movement every  10 or so seconds. It becomes a chain of act react – where that original sound and movement will grow – and the rhythms will shift and change.

  • No gap – the impulse hits travels through and is communicated back through this non-verbal language

  • Having a different person either side – begin to explore how other energy’s grow your everyday physical capacity & energy.

  • This can form a physical reflection that unpacks the constant flow of energy and momentum throughout – which is reflective of Shakespeare’s plays – whereby every word, line, soliloquy and monologue is written with the same momentum and impetus as short dialogue. How are the other characters/actors on stage constantly being ‘affected’ by the driving momentum of the text?




  • Finding the flow between two people of lines of energy – continuous support of each others lines of energy, constant flow of creating shapes that support and have no kinks.

  • There are many ways you can explore counterbalance

  • One way is in the form of a sort of moving meditation

  • In pairs – one person makes an offer of shape with their body

  • The other partner observes and then somehow adds to that shape with their body.

  • The former partner then steps out, observes and adds to that shape, creating something new.

  • Allow the pairs to continue to explore that, gradually getting more and more confident

  • Place a piece of music on and ask them to continue to explore but more fluidly, continuously moving from one shape to the next, always supporting each other.

  • Challenge the students to make all of the movement in between apart of creating shape – using shape to move.

  • Also challenge them to find specificity and fluidity – as if in performance.

  • They will have to support each others lines of balance by counterbalancing each other as the exercise progresses.

  • Have an opportunity for the class to observe other class members [perhaps split them into two groups]




  • How the different offers of physicality/energy transformed their own ability to move.

  • How the consciousness is lessened when moving on impulse with the body

  • Discuss how shape is constructed using lines, angles and levels.

  • Discuss in the role of audience/directors – what we liked/didn’t like and why [getting the students to find their taste as creative’s]


Taught by Damian Alexander Bernado 


This exercise could be used as a warm up to shift students into their bodies or could be tailored to explore the physicality of their character

  • Imagine that your body is made up of six energy tails [trails] that extend their physical end – releasing an energy flow that extends indefinitely.

  • They extend through both hands, both feet, the top of the head and the bottom.

  •  They are whatever colour/density/formation you choose.

  • Begin by exploring each one.

  • It is no isolated – so feel free to let it bleed throughout the body.

  • As the students explore – allow the body to follow/respond in whatever way.

  • Explore one at a time – then combine. Move into working with a partner – choose one tail and both move with that.

  • Hold and finish.

Part 2

  • Next divide the room into four; hand and bum, feet and hands, all – and an audience watching space.


  • How did leading/focusing with different parts of the body change the way that you move throughout the space?

  • Did you energy and physicality shift when working with a partner.


Grotowski’s ‘Lanes exercise’

  • Get 4-6 students up on the floor [depending on the width of the classroom]. Get them each to find their own lane [like a swimming pool lane].

  • Get them to ‘get to know their lane – walk slowly forward and slowly backwards in their lane [when going backwards get them to lean forward slightly so that their balance in maintained in fast tempo]

  • Then get them to all come to that alive ‘neutral body’ of the performer.

  • When you call lights up they are to respond using three different languages – stillness, running forwards/backwards or jumping.

  • They are to carry out this vocabulary on ‘impulse/kinesthetic response’ to the other performers in the space. Ie. Someone runs past you in stillness and that might give you the impulse to jump, and then you might have the impulse to keep jumping until you have the impulse to stop.

  • So the impulses are coming from without and within.

  • The longer they explore this for [and the more physically exhausted they get] the easier it becomes for them to listen to each other – their conscious thought of ‘planning’ begins to be stripped away and they begin responding to each other.

Part 2: Juggling the set of skills to begin to create through play.

  • Once all of the students have explored this exercise, get them to combine say, three elements of performance they have encountered so far.

  • Walking around the space – balancing it, alive, engage, explorative, 

  • spatial relationships and 

  • kinesthetic response

  • Begin/end and explore throughout different interesting spatial relationships

  • And moving through the space on impulse/kinesthetic response to what else is happening in the space.

  • Do this in groups – of around 8/9. So that the students can also be observers of learning/exploring this physical language.


  • In groups of three walk from one end of the space and back and repeat

  • As a group, begin to move and make sound in a particular way, both the movement and sound will grow once you find the comfortable complacency in the group.

  • It can grow bigger smaller faster slower etc.

  • The students will develop their ability to communicate shared impulses and work together in a smaller ensemble



This exercise explores

stopping in two directions, levels, edge of balance, strides, moving in two directions, quality of movement.  










  • Begin by getting students to walk around the space in a neutral walk

  • Get the students to balance the space

  • Create a rhythm [the can vary in tempo whenever you choose] using a bongo drum or a hard surface is recommended.

  • The students are to move around the space in neutral to this rhythm.

  • This exercise has several movement languages, these are to be introduced one at a time for the students to balance – and ultimately juggle them simultaneously.

  • Their beginning focus is to come to a sudden stop when you freeze drumming. To remain in an ‘alive state/sustained stillness’ ready to begin again.

  • Allow the students time to find the specificity between moving and stillness.

  • Then introduce ‘two directions.’ – This is where when the students come to a standstill – they are to freeze their bodies in two directions [could be feet planted and hips turned so that their eyeline is in a different direction].

  • Stopping in two directions then gives them two choices of where to walk when they begin walking again – explain to them not to think about it – but to allow their next move to surprise them, leading on impulse. 

  • Allow them to explore this before introducing the third – ‘levels’ – this is where the students must come to stillness [still in two directions] firstly as a group in a high level [anything that makes them reach, only with bodies not with arms], a middle level, and a low level [as close to the group as they can]

  • Allow students to explore this before adding – ‘edge of balance’ – still stopping in two directions, changing between high, middle and low levels – and now their sustained stillness must challenge them – for it must be off centre – so that their bodies are resisting the gravity that tries to overthrow their balance.


A side exercise that you can do – is to get 4/5 students on the floor slumped in a sleeping/dead position – relaxed, no muscles engaged. Audience observes. Then get the students to explore the same position but engage their muscles – they can move themselves slightly propping parts of their body up or obscured – to the audience it will still remain the dead/asleep position – but their presence on the stage is alive – and therefore imbued with potential. 


  • Allow them a moment to explore how they can throw themselves off centre encouraging them to throw themselves all the way so that they know what is ‘too far.’

  • The next one is their strides – how small can the students make their steps maintaining the beat of the drum – or how far can they outstretch their strides – how does changing the way they move through the space change their physicality.

  • Now allow students the option to move in two or more directions – spinning or simply changing direction whenever they please – opening up their awareness to the ensemble around them, how do they respond to the bodies passing by/come face to face with.

  • The last one is explore different qualities of movement. This is where an image/object/animal etc is called – and all students are to explore how they image lives inside of them and alters their energy and the way that they move within the space. This movement/physiaclisation is non literal, it is a quality and therefore it simply exist in the body not the arms or the face – challenge them to simply explore using the language they have developed so far – how does it change their tempo, levels, small strides/large strides, what they lead with, how they change direction, how they come to a sudden stop, how they take off into movement again.

  • Some suggestions are; move with the quality of a mountain, a cloud, a lion, black smog, a lightning strike etc. 


Part 2: Making the everyday action extraordinary.

  • Using the body language developed in the last exercise, students are given a simple task from one of their scenes – either individually or in pairs.

  • For example – Macbeth– He is looking over his kingdom, then in front of him appears the floating knife – using sustained stillness, levels, a quality of movement, two directions, sudden stops and starts and edge of balance – devise a 30 second movement piece that explores his resistance/struggle with a floating object that doesn’t exist.


  • Laban’s work explores the impulse of muscular energy and the transference of this into external action.

    His movement theory connects the emotional via the physical with eight different ‘Efforts’ that occupy and electrify the body and therefore, activate the emotions.


    These 8 Efforts are created through manipulating three gear changes;

    Pace, Weight & Space


    Gear Changes

    Pace: Swift/Sustained

    Weight: Heavy/Light

    Space: Direct/Indirect



    Press: sustained, heavy, direct

    Flick: swift, light, indirect

    Wring: sustained, heavy, indirect

    Dab: swift, light, direct

    Slash: swift, heavy, indirect

    Glide: sustained, light, direct

    Thrust: swift, heavy, direct

    Float: sustained, light, indirect,



  • Begin by asking students to walk around the space in neutral

  • Then one at a time, explore the three gear changes. Moving through the space swiftly, sustained, then heavy versus light, then direct versus indirect.

  • Begin layering with 2 gear changes at one given time – Swift & light.

  • Then get students to explore a combination of all three – this creates one of the ‘Efforts’

  • If the first one is a combination of heavy, sustained and indirect – this creates the effort of wring.

  • Get them to explore this state in any number of ways.

  • They can begin exploring it in isolation – i.e. In their eyelids [finding the specificity is key] in one hand, then moving to their foot, using different levels [on the ground] etc and then explore what it feels like in their whole body.

  • Guide them to consider how it changes their physicality, sightlines, interaction with the space and each other etc

  • Ask them to do mundane things in this state  i.e. saying your shopping list, singing a nursery rhyme, 2 times tables etc. Ask them to think how their physical state changes their expression.

  • Move through each of the efforts.

  • Move into a discussion about the potential types of characters from your chosen Shakespeare play would operate in these physical states. For example if your studying Richard III perhaps Richard operates within the state of Slash – or maybe a combination of Slash & Wring.

MITCH WOOD: Third Year Actor takes us step-by-step through Laban's 8 efforts & Jacques Lecoq's 7 levels of Tension. 


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