Trapdoor is a really easy and fun theatre game that’s really useful for teaching stage directions to new or young actors. You may have played a similar version of this game called Crow’s Nest in gym class! It’s also a great warm-up game to get everyone moving and the energy flowing!
Here are the basic stage directions:
Remember — we walk DOWN towards the audience, and UP towards the backstage area!
To play Trapdoor, first start with all the actors at centre stage. One person (could be the teacher, director, or another leader) is the Caller. The Caller yells out a stage direction (“Upstage Left!”) and all actors must run to that area of the stage. Whoever runs to the wrong area or is last to arrive is OUT!
Why is the game called “Trapdoor”? If the Caller yells “Trapdoor,” everyone must lay flat on their bellies on the floor right where they are! (It’s not exactly what a trapdoor does, but it’s fun nevertheless!)
You can add tons of variations to this game:
- Actor or staging positions (full front, full back, one quarter left/right, three quarters left/right, etc).
- Add some funny tableau/mime positions and actions. Some of my favourites include:
- “Director’s coming!” (All actors stand up straight like soldiers and salute)
- “Paparazzi!” (All actors pose like models/celebrities)
- “Love scene!” (All actors create melodramatic “love scene” poses — hands over hearts or over the brow, down on one knee, fainting away… use your imagination!)
- If you’re worried about actors running, you can use different ways of moving: tiptoe, glide, hop, crabwalk, moonwalk, leap…
- Mix up where the “audience” is. If you’re playing this game on a stage, change it up and pretend that the audience is at stage left!
- Make up a new version of the game with different styles of theatres. I’d love to see adaptations of this game played on a thrust stage, in the round, or alley stage! (Share them with me on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments below if you do this!!!)
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