You and your actor roommate wondering what are the best acting exercises for two to do at home?
I have been in your situation. I used to share a room with other actors. We always looked for ways to improve our acting at home.
Luckily for us, we had similar acting techniques and hence we used similar acting exercises.
We used series of seven exercises daily as they covered every aspect of acting like being in the moment, connecting with another character, physicality, dialogues, etc.
If you want the same all-around improvement in your acting ability, learn these seven acting exercises for two with your fellow actor and practice them daily.
Seven Acting Exercises For Two
These acting exercises for two are taken from different acting techniques likes Eric Morris acting techniques, Meisner’s acting technique, Uta Hagen’s acting technique, and many more.
I tweaked it a little based on my experience and the results I achieved with these exercises.
Let’s see these acting exercises for two in detail:
Before being an actor, we are all humans.
The big issue with us is that we think a lot.
I mean a lot.
24X7 something or the other is cooking in our mind.
To play a character on stage or on camera, you have to empty your mind so that you can fill it with the thoughts of the character you are going to play.
So how do you empty your mind?
There are a lot many ways to do that.
Especially when you are alone you can use meditation or simply concentrate on your senses before you prepare for the role.
However, when you are with a fellow actor it is a bit different.
Even if you are not thinking about your life, you are thinking about the other person in the room.
So both have to be comfortable and equally involved in the moment.
My coach used to say be in a state of being everything will flow.
So how to be in the state of being when you are practicing with another actor?
Follow These Directions:
- First, choose a place in the house where you two can walk around freely without bumping into each other.
- Starting slowly walking around in the room and try to feel the floor. Don’t look at the floor but try to feel the floor with your feet.
- Now walk and try to feel the space or air around you.
- Now bring your focus to the sounds that you hear while walking. Do not abandon feeling the floor or the air around you. Everything is an add-on.
- Now when you are feeling everything around you and beneath you bring your focus to your acting partner.
- Whenever your fellow actor passes by, just acknowledge him. You can do that with a smile or a nod. Do not think too much, do what comes naturally to you.
- Also if the other actor acknowledges you first, just repeat the same gesture.
- Keep these exercise going for 10-15 minutes
If you follow these directions, you both will be at being. Your mind will be clear and it will be ready to receive responses from your fellow actor.
2. Checking Out Your Partner
In the last exercise what we did is merely acknowledged the presence of the actor. Now this acting exercise for two will allow you to get connected to your fellow actor.
If you take a moment and think about the fictional story, you will realize that all or most of the characters know each other very well even before the story begins. And in reality you all the actors playing these characters might have met a couple of times.
So how do you bring the connection that is required for the story?
That is why this type of exercise is really important. It will not only help you know your fellow actor but also bring you both closer as a person and bring the required level of comfort.
How this checking out your partner exercise works?
This exercise requires you and your partner to stand face to face and check out each other.
You have to look at the details like clothes, face, jewelry, body language, etc.
When you know a person inside, you know how he or she dresses, stands, etc.
Even if there is a small change, you will know it.
This is how the connection between you should look like.
So how do you develop this connection through this acting exercise for two:
- Follow this exercise with the last one so that you are at being before you begin this exercise.
- Once you are at being, face each other and stand at a distance from where you can see your fellow actor from head to two.
- Now take a minute or two to notice each other.
- You have to notice clothes, facial expressions, hair, jewelry, shoes, and other accessories of your fellow actor and more importantly the body language.
- Now you should close your eyes and ask your fellow actor to change one thing out of all.
- You have to find that one thing that has been changed by the other actor.
- Once you have found that thing, you change one thing and ask your friend to guess it.
- Now change one more thing and you should guess it.
- Keep adding change after change and try to guess it.
What this exercise does is make you more attentive towards your fellow actor. You will notice the small details of your actor. Also as you are more attentive you two will have a feeling that you know each other very well.
3. Repetition Exercise
Once you have acknowledged your presence and created a connection it’s time to add some conversation.
Dialogues are an important part of acting.
For most actors, this is the only thing. That is why they make the mistake of just working on how they will deliver the lines. You should work on them but not until you are connected with the character or the other actor.
Since we have made a connection with the help of the above two exercises. Now, let’s add some speech.
This exercise is one of my favorite acting exercises for two. This exercise was developed by the famous acting coach, Sanford Meisner.
The beauty of this exercise is that you don’t have to memorize any lines. You speak what you observe.
Also, it takes you out of your head. You are not worried about your next lines.
You are just reacting to what you are receiving from your fellow actor.
I used to do this exercise just before the scene. I and my co-actor used to keep doing these acting exercises for two until we are in the follow and all of a sudden we used to start speaking lines from the script.
When it’s done right, the scene looks natural and authentic.
So what this repetition exercise is actually?
During this exercise, you look at your partner and say what you observe about him or her. And the partner repeats the same exact words but in a tone that suggests he or she is answering or commenting on what you have said.
No way you have to mock each other. You are acknowledging what has been said.
Let’s directly dive into steps so that you understand it in detail:
- The important thing is this exercise needs to be done after you have done exercises 1 and 2.
- Now stand facing each other at 5-6 feet apart so that you can see each other from head to toe.
- Now you should observe your partner and speak out whatever you observe about your partner. Let’s say you observe him smile a little. You say, “ you are smiling.”
- Now your partner should listen to what you have said and how you have said. And he should acknowledge your comment by replying in a way that shows he is answering your question or comment.
- For instance, if you have said, “ you are smiling” as a question. He should say, “yes I am smiling”. And you should reply to his comment with “ yeah, you are smiling” as if you are answering or questioning his comment.
- One thing you have to remember when we say a line it has different meanings. You should try to judge that meaning rather than taking the lines at their face value. For instance, for our line “ you are smiling”. You might be questioning his smile or complimenting his smile. If you change the meaning behind the line you will notice the way you say the line also changes.
- So while repeating this line you have to catch the meaning behind it. You might not change the line but the meaning behind it keeps changing throughout the process.
- Now continue the process of repeating the lines. Keep repeating what the other actor is saying. Don’t think too much. Just listen and repeat.
This video might help you:
4. Where Am I Coming From?
This exercise is great for bringing in the vibe of the location from where you just coming.
When you observe in real life, you can see whenever a person is coming from somewhere you can sense it.
Why is it important in acting to know where you are coming from?
Let me explain to you with an example
Let’s say the scene is about you meeting your girlfriend after the gym.
And in the scene somewhere there will be a line you saying to your girlfriend, “you have been to the gym.”
If you just the line I have been to the gym, the audience might not believe.
But if you are breathing heavy and look tired, and then you say the line, the audience will connect.
You have to bring the audience into the world of your character with your acting that’s when the audience can feel the magic.
So, it is always so where you are coming from when entering the scene.
To develop this skill, this exercise will come in handy.
This is a one-person exercise but requires someone to observe so that you know if you are able to exude the place you are coming from.
You can always take turns to perform.
Let’s look at the steps involved while performing this exercise:
- First, pick a location in your mind. You don’t have to attach any scene or character. Just name a location. Let’s say you pick park.
- Once you chose the location take your time and think about how the location like the park affects you physically.
- You have to find the experience you have by being in that location. A good trick is to decide what activity you did in that location. For park, you may take a stroll in the words. So physically, you look refreshed, happy and there might be dirt on your shoes. Try to define as many physical effects that you can.
- Once you decide on the physical effects, just recreate them when you are performing.
- Ask your fellow actor to sit as an audience and observe you.
- You have to enter the room and move around for a minute or so with those physical effects and ask him to guess the location from where you have come.
- If he is not able to guess it, change few things and do it again. Keep on changing till then your partner can guess the location correctly.
- Now as him to present his location.
Remember you have to convey the location only through physicality. Maybe through your walk, may through your dress, and through your body language.
Always add this exercise to every scene. Make sure your walk and body language immediately convey where you are coming from.
5. Mind the Surrounding
The way you handle the stage or set is also the most important aspect of acting. And when there are two actors, you have to respect the space.
Also, be aware of what other actor is doing in the scene.
You have to respect each other’s activities in the scene.
And sometimes you two will be involved in some activity, so you should know how to finish each other’s activity.
To improve this aspect of acting, you can take the help of mime a little.
We used to do this a lot while I used to do theater. This not only helped organize our space on the stage but also avoided bumping into other characters on stage.
How does this exercise work?
Well before you I give the steps, I should tell you should read or understand the mime.
Because in this exercise we will be creating props in thin air.
You will have to believe you are actually holding something in your hand or interacting with a physical object.
This how you should do this exercise:
- Use an open space for this exercise. So that you can move around and do your activity.
- Whoever goes first will have to choose a location in mind. Based on the location, you have to mime an activity. For instance, you choose a construction site, you can choose an activity like digging a hole with the shovel.
- Though there is nothing in your hand make sure you mimic the way you actually do in real life. More importantly, there is no talking in this activity. Both actors have to see and understand what is the situation.
- The second actor has to guess what is the location and add to that activity. So here if you are digging a hole, he can help remove the soil.
- When both get involved, make sure you give space to each other but also coordinate with each other. It should be as real as possible.
- Now if you feel that you have finished the activity. In our example, you feel you have dug deep enough holes. You can choose the next activity. Maybe you are going to erect a pole or pillar. Then you might go with bringing in the pole.
- If your actor is able to understand that you are going to erect the pole. He can stop what he is doing and then help with the help.
- The main thing here is that any actor can change the activity if he or she feels that here activity has been completed. The other actor has to be aware of the change and react according to it.
Do this exercise as long as possible and change at least 3 activities if possible. I would suggest recording the whole exercise if there no one to give you the feedback. If there is no one you can criticize each other and help each other improve your skills.
6. What Do I Want
Most of the acting exercises for two we have done until now are physically based. This exercise will make your dialogues more effective. This exercise is devised to bring out the objective behind the lines.
In many acting techniques, you might have heard this phrase what do you want in the scene. Define your objective for the scene!
If you do this exercise you will learn to play the object when you say your line. Not just line, you will be able to bring out the objective in your body language too.
This is totally an improvisation exercise. You don’t need any scenes or dialogues. All you have to do is play the objective for your scene.
This objective has to be as simple as possible, like
To make you love me
To make you give me the money
To make you stay
It has to be the simplest emotion. And choose only one for the exercise and improvise until you get what you want in the scene.
These are steps that you should follow for this exercise:
- First, choose an objective for your scene. For instance, you want money from your friend. Your objective is to get your friend to agree to give you the money.
- And your partner should listen to you what you have to say. He must first agree to your demands only if you convince him. Unless and until he feels you have given the compelling reason or moved him, he should not agree to give you the money.
- Whatever reason you want to give to ask for the money, just with all the belief say it. Your partner won’t agree first, but make sure you make a compelling case. Be it emotional reason, help, or anything just with all the beliefs convince him. Keep on inventing stuff and improvise it.
- Your friends should also present the case of not lending you the money. His or her objective should always be the opposite of what you want. This way both will be involved in a good improvisation scene.
I advise you to have an observer or if there is no one set up a camera and shoot your performance.
7. Full Fledged Scenes
No matter how many acting exercises for two you do unless until you apply them to a scene you won’t know how much you have improved. You can find the two-character scene and practice them daily to ensure that you are able to perform them with ease.
To ensure that keep a goal of performing a scene every two-three days or once a week.
Having such a goal gives something to work on every week. Especially when you are in a phase where you are only giving auditions and looking for work. It is a good idea to feel your time with something to work.
But preparing for the scene has its own process. I know everyone has a different way to approach a scene, but still, there is a basic process that you should follow.
Start by selecting a two-person scene. It can be anything you want. Always try different genres and different kinds of scenes to make yourself versatile.
When you have selected the scenes, ensure that you work on your characters before you do the scene. Give at least a couple of days to work on your character.
I use a 100 question worksheet to develop a character. I just spend an hour on it whenever I am developing a new character. Within an hour I have what I call a character bible.
Whenever I am in doubt about what my character would do in different situations all I do is refer to this bible.
Once you have prepared the character, assign a couple of days for rehearsal. Do experiments, discuss, give each other feedback and try to ensure that when the day of final performance comes, you give your best.
Once you have fully prepared the scene, either you can shoo it with the help of our director friends, shoot it yourself or invite few friends to see your scene.
After the performance, get the feedback of your friends, teachers, colleagues by showing the tape or live performance.
If you follow these acting exercises for two regularly you will be able to see good improvement in your skills. As an actor, you must have an exercise routine just like you have a routine for your gym. Even when start getting professional gigs, always practice them.
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