Freeze Tag is a very common game in Youth Theater. Youth Theater kids can’t seem to get enough of it. Anyone who has participated in a theater class of any sort has probably played Freeze Tag. The game takes various forms, but the essential rules are always the same. Two participants take the stage and begin improvising a scene. At any point during the scene, an audience member may call out “Freeze”, come onstage, and replace one of the participants. The new participant begins a completely different scene, and the game moves forward.
Freeze Tag is especially common in Youth Theater. It is a great way to introduce shy youths to the daunting prospect of being onstage, and kids have a great time playing it. Indeed, Freeze Tag is a good way to ensure that a group of kids has fun at times when fun is called for. However, this game has a great deal of potential as an instructional tool as well. The experience of playing Freeze Tag multiple times over the course of weeks or months can lead young actors to many discoveries about their craft. However, this can only happen if the game is carefully managed. Here are a few simple rules to ensure that Freeze Tag remains a beneficial exercise in terms of education as well as fun.
1. No Comments From the Peanut Gallery
As often happens in youth theater, students will shout comments from the audience. Sometimes praise, sometimes criticism, but most often ideas as to where the scene should go. This must be strongly discouraged. This sort of thing is very distracting for the actors and will deny them the valuable experience of working through improvisational difficulties on their own. It is especially difficult for an instructor to discourage this sort of thing when a particularly intelligent student calls out some helpful advice. Nevertheless, advice of any kind should be forbidden during Freeze Tag.
2. Let The Scene Get Underway
In many Youth Theater groups playing Freeze Tag, a situation develops where everybody wants to be onstage. What begins to happen is that audience members will “Freeze” a scene as soon as it begins. This must be controlled, for it renders the game pointless. It is a tricky thing for the instructor to deal with. Forbid it too strongly, and students will feel as though they are forbidden to “Freeze” the scene at all. It helps to communicate the concept of “letting the scene get underway” to the students. Who are these people? Where are they? What are they doing? If the audience member does not know the answers to these questions, it is probably too early to “Freeze” the scene.
3. The New Player Must Establish the Scene
Often, a student will “Freeze” the scene and take his or her place on stage, only to begin performing an ambiguous or confusing activity. Be sure that your students are very aware that it is the newcomer’s responsibility to begin a scene with a line that gives his or her partner something to work off of. For instance, coming onstage and saying “What’s that in the bushes?” is vastly superior to coming onstage and saying “Where am I?”
If Youth Theater instructors follow these guidelines, Freeze Tag will remain a fun and educational activity for young actors and actresses. It is important to address these rules each and every time they are broken, so students quickly get in the habit of adhering to them.