A while back I posted in a thread about an exercise I did with students to teach them how to move “silently and with purpose”. I’ve gotten a ton of e-mails asking about the exercise. I thought I’d post what I could about it. Step one, I’d simply setup some spike marks around the stage, for a mic stand, a stool and a music stand. Step two, I get all the kids out in the house and talk about what we were going to learn. Then I’d start doing the setup. Of course the first time I did it, I’d rush on with the stool practically run to the spike slam the stool down, run offstage, grab the mic stand, throw it down close ti it spike, then grab the music stand run on throw it in the same area. I’d really ham it up. Oh and I’d be sure to look back three or four times as I was walking off as if I was checking to make sure everything was in it’s right place. By this time the kids were usually laughing like crazy, and the point I was making about excessive movement was usually made. Then I’d ask for suggestions on how to do it better. The kids would usually have quite a few good ones, like bringing on more than one piece at a time. Of course this would turn into me trying to carry everything at once then proceeding to drop, knock over and trip on everything. After a couple more times with them refining what I was doing I’d do it right moving quietly, quickly without hurrying, setting everything in it’s place, then leaving the stage. After I’d done it right, I’d have the kids start doing the setup. It was really great to have the kids critique each other, it was great to see peer pressure being used for good. By the time we were done the kids were trying to out do each other to see who could look the most “professional”. Sometimes I’d come in and find the kids practicing to see if they could finish faster or be more efficient than everyone else. The big thing for me was to teach them to fight the natural urge to “run” they’d always want to break stride, jog to place, then jog off the stage. Once you instill the idea that they have plenty of time to get things done, the urge to run seems to go away. Once you impress them with the visual impact that an efficient stage hand can make they really try hard to look and act as professionally as possible. As far as exercises I’d give kids music stands, mic stands and chairs, everyone else would sit in a circle the “it” would have to pick-up and set down all the items without us hearing them. I’d usually have a radio or some music playing in the background, not loud, just enough to give some cover noise. The kids loved it, It was a game and they learned some skills at the same time. This might not be the “answer” everyone was looking for but I know it worked for me. I hope it works for you ! And please know, for all you teachers out there, I have the utmost respect for what you do. Training Technical theatre kids can be a challenge at best. You get the rebels, the know-it-alls, the geeks, and the tech heads, and you get to turn them into technicians. I salute you.