This activity is a warm-up exercise used by teachers and professional actors. Residents can do the exercise themselves, or you can have staff demonstrate the techniques.
What is tableau?
Tableau is a drama technique that is used to help actors understand their character in relation to the people and objects around them. Freeze-frames are a form of tableau. With freeze-frame, the action in a play or scene is frozen, as in a photograph or video frame.
If the scene is complicated and involves a lot of movement and characters, practicing tableau helps the actors organize. When the scene is frozen, it gives the actors a chance to concentrate and think about their character and how it interacts with others in the scene.
Basic Tableau Exercise
1. Organize participants into groups of 3–5.
2. Give each group a situation and five minutes to create a freeze-frame of an event. Don’t let the other groups see what the event is. Some possibilities might include:
Funeral Surprise party
Camping Murder mystery
Trip to the fair Boxing match
Yoga or tai chi class A protest rally
At the prom Easter egg hunt
At the movies Group winning the lottery
Babysitting Cooking dinner for 20
3. One at a time, ask each group to assume their freeze-frame position for the audience. Ask the audience to guess the situation or event. Also, ask what role they think each person is playing in the scene.
4. After each group has had a turn, ask what made the various freeze-frame exercises effective.