This week I have been running a Theatre Laboratory with my grade 10 and 11 students on what we bring when we enter the stage. We are moving onto exits next week, but I thought I would share with you what they explored with entrances for this blog. We discovered that with an entrance you can establish:

  • character
  • mood
  • motive
  • environment
  • relationships
  • objects in the environment
  • status
  • atmosphere
  • conflict
  • story
  • backstory
  • other characters off stage
  • foreshadowing
  • subtext

and more…

When you are working on creating TENSION, EMOTIONS, ATMOSPHERE and MEANING in your directing, acting and design work, it is important that you are aware of the impact on the audience and also the tools at your fingertips with an entrance, as this is establishing the story, relationships, context and mood.

Below are some of the exercises that we did to explore the impact of an entrance:

  • walk across the stage with others watching, just walk. What is the message?
  • enter the stage from a wing and enter a place. What do you do? What do you bring/see?
  • enter the stage to look at something specific and help the audience see it. What happens?
  • enter the stage with a particular feeling to do something specific. What does the audience see?
  • enter the stage to bring news (good or bad to another). How do they change? How does the mood change?
  • enter with a backstory and show what has just happened from the entrance. What had happened? How does he/she feel? What do they want to do?

We did these exercises alone and then with others watching to give feedback. As time went on, of course they started to bring multiple things with their entrance.

We then developed the work to include entering to another person, entering a space intending to change the mood, entering to intentionally create conflict, do something specific, get something, bring something etc.

A good improvisation game to explore TEAM and entrances is the improvisation game BASIC 5s. Here are the rules:

  1. First person enters and establishes the space – showing objects, doors, temperature etc
  2. Second person enters and brings the relationships – they talk and establish who they both are and why they are there
  3. Third person brings a problem, and their role, which changes the mood and objectives
  4. Fourth person brings a second problem, and their role, which heightens tension, chaos, panic etc
  5. Fifth person enters, bringing their role, and resolves everything

This is a good game to play, as it explores all the elements of entrances, interaction, mood and interaction with the environment.

I hope that you find these useful and will use them in your own work.

Note: The Basic 5s game comes from an Improv festival I attended in Stavanger, Norway, years ago!