Climbing down towards Naturalism – a quirky workshop activity to find the right level



This is a very good exercise for finding a natural style of acting or performance.

It’s also a very good exercise for looking at how naturalism can arise out of more extrovert forms of performance, and also how to can have its own unique power both as an acting style and also as a style of presentation.
Audience call out a scenario for two or more volunteers to play out as improvisation.
It’s best of there is one actor already on stage and another can make a dramatic entrance of some kind.
The style at the start is over the top, expressive, loud physically and verbally.
The facilitator can ramp things up by suggesting the performers go even “higher” in the dramatic energy stakes. Essentially we start at full volume which is represented by the number TEN called out by the facilitator.
As the scene plays out the number is decreased and the idea is to lessen to over-drama and “tone things down” where the number 1 should be entirely naturalistic.
It can be fun and challenging if the content of the scene actually builds up to some kind of climax even as the volume, expressiveness and overt energy is toned down. For example, being stuck in a bus which is balanced on the edge of a cliff and slowly tipping over.
By the time we reach ONE, the scene has become naturalistic, realistic, and the improvisation is played out in the style of naturalistic action.
So, the process involves toning down the over-drama by counting every minute or so down from ten to one, slowly changing the style towards naturalism
On debriefing, discussion around the contrast between the styles of acting and the different effects and impact on audience and actors’ inner space can highlight a range of issues for both performers and presenters in business contexts:
– when is being natural the best style? – It can often be best to be very naturalistic in style if the presentational content is already dramatic enough!
– we are more or less comfortable with different levels of drama and style – our strengths and preferences sometimes default to a particular level or style
– sometimes switching between naturalism and expressionism can be a way of creating different kinds of energetic impact and tension
– mixing styles and levels sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t


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