Definition: A doodle is an unfocused or unconscious act of drawing; used to refer to a simpleton (i.e., ‘Yankee Doodle’)and an activity to allow the mind to think about something else. A “Story doodle” is an activity to help tap into the unconscious creative by telling stories through impromptu story segments, word/action games, and improvisations.
Activity 1: A Great Chain of Story
A leader begins a story leading to point of action or response (and then Joe opened the door to see a…). This ‘cliffhanger’ activity encourages quick thought, builds integral understanding of story elements and character development, and reaches deeper levels of creativity, practices speaking and vocalization to gain comfort and skill in oral storytelling. Do it quickly with many laughs and a sense of fun.
Activity 2: Action and Reaction
Storytellers break into groups of two people. Teller “A” must share an action (I went to the store) and Teller “B” must share a reaction (He forgot his wallet). Each new adventure of Teller “A” should be mundane and ordinary. Each new response by Teller “B” should be more and more extreme, outlandish, or incredible. Do this one time and then switch roles for another round. Any teams wishing to share their ‘tale’ can demonstrate their accomplishments. This bit of improve helps develop a sense of character as one is sensible, not easily ruffled and somber minded, while the other is a bit ditzy, ‘air-headed’ or naïve. Do not overplay or overact. Keep the characters within normal levels of conversation, action, and body language.
Activity 3: Look Ma! I’m Moving!
Storytellers can break into teams or do the activity individually. Have a selection of actions on note cards for storytellers to use. Audience (and other tellers) must try to identify what the actions represent (just like in charades. Actions may include swimming, dancing the tango (specific dance!), filing folders in a cabinet, typing, starting a prop airplane, painting a picture, hitting a baseball, sawing a log, rolling hair in curlers, making a sandwich, etc. The purpose of this activity is to integrate the body into the story process and to get comfortable in being in front of an audience.
Activity 4: Cue the Swoon: Old Fashioned Melodrama
Just like the early silent films copied the oversized actions from the theaters of the time (had to been seen in the peanut gallery!) and used big actions, big emotions, and prolonged responses to convey story to the audience, here storytellers will do the same. A) The scene is one well-known: Little Red Riding Hood will enter her Grandmothers bedroom, see the poor figure in the bed, grow suspicious and then alarmed. The Grandmother/Wolf will jump up and threaten the poor girl. B) The Emperor, whose new clothes are the finest, and the most invisible, clothing of the land, goes for a march through the village where a child (who knows nothing of fine clothes but a lot about invisible ones!) expresses his puzzlement at the appearance of the ruler. C) The boastful Rabbit enters a race with the slow Turtle, feels so confident he pauses, slows down, rests, while Turtle trudges steadily on to win the race. Employ large actions: Arms thrown up to shield the eyes, hands out as if pushing something away, large swinging motions of arms of legs, pantomime like actions, etc. The scene may be done silently or with large, overly dramatic (i.e., bad acting) or overly energetic motions. (think Errol Flynn swinging into a forest scene and then standing with his fists on his hips as he laughed…or any of a number of examples!)