by Thomasina Unsworth

Published by Nick Hern Books


Thomasina Unsworth spent a decade working in theatre and television having graduated from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and now oversees Acting and Acting Musicianship courses at Rose Bruford College. She is ideally placed then, to share remedies of how to get a room full of apprehensive, nervous and rusty actors jumping around and interacting with one another.

Nick Hern’s latest book in its drama games offerings is separated into three sections: self, character and text. The first area primes the actor for work ahead; activities and games that encourage relaxation and sharpens focus. The second highlights the process of transformation within characterisation, gently nudging an actor to explore traits that are far from her own. The final segment ‘text’ builds on an actor’s relationship with a script, encouraging creative exploration, yet staying within its boundaries.

Instructions for each game are easy to follow and Unsworth when appropriate, also directs the exercise at the performer. This point of view shifts smoothly between actor and facilitator, while the role of the group leader or teacher remains very clear throughout. Each activity also has a recommended time limit and lists the specific skills that an actor can expect to engage for example; control, co-ordination, energy, focus etc.

In his foreword to the book, Richard Eyre, the former Artistic Director of the National Theatre ponders the problematic nature of a rehearsal, asking “how do you get a disparate set of individuals to work as an ensemble within a few days?” His solution? “We play games, and it’s hard to imagine anyone involved in theatre who wouldn’t find it (this book) useful.”

Praise indeed.

Review by Mark Glover