FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

Acting Class

Written By: Scot Butwell - May• 24•16


“Acting is telling a story with words and using your body,” Dennis, D’s teacher.

This is how D’s teacher introduced drama. We stood in a circle, five adults and D, in a small room with light-blue paint, making motor boat sounds with our lips.

First in low gear and then high gear.

We hummed to warm up our voices. We practiced articulating words. Red leather, yellow leather. Good blood, bad blood. Unique New York.

“New Yeek, New York,” D said.

Everyone laughed and we said woo, woah, wow. Woo, woah, wow. Specific Pacific. Mellow Yellow. Irish wrist watches.

D’s teacher told him, “say Irish wrist watches five times in a row.

“Irish wrist watches, Irish wish washes…”

It was the first day of Drama class (the other kids were absent), so the Wife and I participated in the warm-up activities, before making our way to the lobby.

After doing some stretching exercises and a sensory awareness activity, D moved his arms and legs to copy the movement of his partner in a mirror activity.

drama sline

This was Shoreline Speech and Language Center, an eight-week program called “Act Up,” using drama to develop speech and language skills.

The acting involved “showing” one of the five characters from the film “Inside Out” (joy, sadness, fear, disgust, anger) by using different body parts.

This was a perfect activity, not only because “Inside Out” is one of D’s favorite movies, but also it helped him practice reading the body language of other people.

One of D’s teacher turned his toes in and asked D what character his feet were “showing.” D answered “sadness” and they took turns acting out emotions.

This is a better way to put it: they yelled out the names of characters, laughing and commenting on the acting, everyone having a great time.

I was envious. I wanted to be back in the room, to be a part of the fun and laughter, to experience learning about acting along with D.

However, the Wife and I sat on sofa and we listened (at least I did) through a short hallway–me peeking in every so often to see what they were doing.

D became anger, joy, sadness and fear with his shoulder, arms, hands, and toes. “Notice how your hands show you’re angry but you’re smiling,” D’s teacher said.

The first class ended by doing a “scene” with a script. D hit his “mark” by standing on a taped “x” and took on the emotion his partner showed in her lines.

drama emo

There was a slate with the title “Emo” to start the action. Multiple “takes” to shoot the scene and they watched “dailies” of their scene, just like on a real movie set.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m ok.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I think so.”

“I get it.”


The emotion in the scene was sadness and D reflected back the emotion in his voice. The dialogue felt like two friends at school talking on the playground.

I appreciated the verbal irony in the situation–D saying he was ok, but meaning the opposite–so common in everyday exchanges, where you must read social cues.

D had to read his partner’s tone of voice, their body language and the subtext of their words–all while making eye contact when speaking with them.

These are all essential to acting but, more important, to deciphering the byzantine world of verbal and non-verbal social cues when talking to a friend:

“How are you?”

“I’m fine.”

I loved the fact there was learning on several levels–social-emotional communication, creative expression, technical acting skills–and also that D’s acting was critiqued.

But, most of all, I liked seeing D experience the fun and joy of drama, using his voice and body to become a character in telling a larger story.

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