Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What is Creative Drama?

What is Creative Drama?
There are many opinions on what creative drama is and should be, and my definition here should is just one. In essence, creative drama is dramatic activities which have the experience of the participants as the goal. This differs from theatre classes in which preparation for a performance is the objective. Creative drama is usually reserved for children four to nine years old - ages or stages of development when participants can benefit from dramatic experience if there is no pressure to perform. Creative drama can include dramatic play, story enactment, imagination journeys, theatre games, music, and dance. "Let's pretend" is the norm in creative drama class, not just a child's game. Because the emphasis in creative drama is process rather than product, teachers have the freedom to take as much time as needed with their classes. When a student in a creative drama class prefers to watch instead of participate, because of shyness or fear, a teacher can allow it. When I was teaching a creative drama class for four and five year-olds one summer, a girl named Melissa was reluctant to join in acting out stories. The cooperating teacher and I let her watch the other children instead. Melissa was always interested in the actions of her classmates, and she would participate in the art activities and games which didn't make her feel like she was in the spotlight. Because she was given the time she needed to overcome her inhibitions, Melissa learned that she was "safe" in class. Towards the end of the summer, Melissa began joining in on the stories the class created with exuberance. She even played the part of the evil queen on sharing day, when the parents came to watch a class. This freedom applies also in the opposite situation, when members of the class are extremely willing and skilled at dramatic activity. The teacher can become a participant and let the children lead the activities rather than being guided through them. Creative drama can help children learn about emotions, problem solving, and relating to other people. Through their experiences with drama, students develop their imaginations and their confidence. One of the most special things about creative drama is that there are no "wrong" answers - through pretending, animals can talk, kids can travel to outer space or the jungle, and the sky can be green while the grass is blue. Use the ideas in this section to work magic in your classroom.
Resources for Creative Drama
Things to use for inspiration during a creative drama class:
Fairy/Folk Tales/Tall Tales and Myths
There are an incredible number of books containing collections of these stories. Some feature tales from a particular country, religion, or ethnic group, while others are grouped by subject (women, animals, nature). When choosing ones to use in class, look for simple plots, dynamic characters, and a straightforward message. Ideally, the tales should be told, rather than read aloud, (besides giving a better sense of the dramatic to the listeners, there are also no pictures that you have to show) so learn them well. Children enjoy acting out stories with humorous people or situations, and usually are willing to play inanimate objects that relate to the plot. Don’t be afraid to stretch the boundaries of the story – add in extra family members, duplicate protagonists/antagonists, herds of animals instead of one so that every child in the class has a role to play. With well-known stories (Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk), the class can use their familiarity with the plot to create new ideas, by modernizing the story, or placing characters from several different stories into one.
The (Color) Fairy Book, (Series) Lang, Andrew, Ed. : There are twelve books in this series, each named with a different color (i.e. Blue, Pink, Yellow, Lilac). Includes some stories of Hans Christen Anderson and the Brothers Grimm along with many little known fairy tales. Especially recommended are The Princess in the Chest (Pink) and The Raspberry Worm (Lilac).
The Wonder Child and Other Jewish Fairy Tales, Selected and Retold by Howard Schwartz and Barbara Rush: Contains folk tales from Jewish culture in the Middle East and in Europe. Some of the stories have biblical characters, and some have simple people who have supernatural things happen to them.
The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales, Virginia Hamilton: The book is divided into four sections by subject matter – one section has stories of slaves gaining their freedom through cleverness or magic in the American South. They are written in an easily read vernacular of those who told the stories.
D’aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, Ingri and Edgar Parin D’aulaire: This book covers much of the Greek mythology in a manner that is easy for children to grasp. There are stories about all the major gods and goddesses, the demigods, and the titans. Some of the tales contain violent acts, but in the theatre of Ancient Greece, violence was never shown onstage. This could create an interesting challenge for an older group of students.
Poems provide a unique opportunity for a creative drama class, as they can be "acted out" instantaneously or after planning. Because poetry is often written in first person, it is easy for the participants to put themselves into the actions or emotions expressed in the poem. When selecting poetry to use in class, look for a variety of styles, but keep in mind that the language should be direct enough for the participants to comprehend. Do not be afraid to use poems that are "silly", most children delight in the absurd.
Shel Silverstein: A Light in the Attic, Where the Sidewalk Ends, and Falling Up
Jack Prelutsky: A Pizza as Big as the Sun, New Kid on the Block, The Dragons are Singing Tonight, and Something Big has Been Here
A. A. Milne: Now We are Six, and When we were very young
Children’s Books
A good children’s book can provide enough activities for an entire creative drama class period. You can create a warm-up, a game, and an art project based on the theme of the book in addition to drama experiences. The most important factor in choosing books for this purpose is the teacher’s or leader’s interest – if a particular book gives you many exciting ideas, then that is the one you should use.
Sample lesson plan for Wacky Wednesday.
Prop Bag
The idea of using a prop bag in a theatre classroom was first introduced to me by Dr. Jack Carr in his Teaching Theatre class at Catholic University. A prop bag is a bag or a box or some sort of container holding really useful items - ones that come in handy during a theatre class. These items serve many purposes. I have reproduced in full my assignment from Dr. Carr to justify the use of a prop bag in the classroom and to list which items I would make sure were in it.
Justification of a Prop Bag (Why is there one in my classroom?)
A prop bag serves as teaching tool for me during class- getting the attention of anyone distracted is faster if they have something new in their environment. Pulling an item out of the prop bag can be that something new to grab the students' attention, or it can be used to make a point form class easily remembered. The student will be able to make use of the prop bag during their activities, helping them to increase their skills. If a character is holding a telephone in a scene. having an actual telephone or representation of it is better than the student pantomiming it. That way, the exercise can retain its focus on the action in a scene rather than becoming a scene about someone holding a telephone. The props are used as objects for concentration, inspiration of creativity, and even as hand props. Because each item has innumerable uses, they are worth keeping close at hand in a classroom throughout the school year.
Prop Bag Items
1. A large square of white fabric- This can be used as a tablecloth, a surrendering flag, or any manner of garment.
2. A Slinky- This item could be inspiration for a movement, used as an instrument, worn as a bangle, or be a unique hand prop for a character.
3. A Rose (Artificial)- It could be a sense memory trigger, or the unavoidable "declaration of love" prop.
4. A jar of bubbles- Besides creating great atmosphere, bubbles can be used in warm up and concentration exercises. For example, blow several and everyone follows one until it pops, with their eyes or their bodies.
5. A roll of Aluminum Foil- Apart form its mundane functions, which might come up in an improvisation, foil can be molded into pieces of jewelry, armor, or can turn someone into a robot.
6. Several pairs of Sunglasses and Eyeglasses- A pair of glasses will help an actor get into character more easily, and will also cause one to gesture more meaningfully if he is holding it.
7. A Mirror- It could be used for practicing facial expressions, monologues, and concentration exercises.
8. A Flashlight- Used for instant special effects, such as a spotlight. It is also good as a starting point for an improvisation.
9. A Towel- Like the white fabric, it can be used for many different situations, but its thickness will change the ways in which it is used.
10. Puppets- The puppets' mouths should be moveable, because then it can imitate facial expressions more easily. It can be used as a teaching companion, an extra character in a scene, or a way to get someone shy to talk. Puppets work especially well with younger children, although even high school students can find amusement in them a la Sesame Street.
11. Hats- Ideally, I would have a bowler, a beret, a beanie with a spinner on top, a big floppy lady's hat, and a fedora. The urge to dress up and become someone else stay throughout a person's life, and a hat is the simplest way to signal a change of character.
Games are incredibly useful in a theatre classroom; and not just acting or warm-up games – all kinds of games can be played to increase performance or creative skills. Most theatre games, and the recreational games that are best in class have no winners or losers. The participants work individually or with others to accomplish the goal of the game, and if the goal is not accomplished at the first try, the participants have still learned something from the experience.
The games here are ones that I have created or that I have learned and could not be traced to a particular source.
A great resource to check out is Hugh's List of Improv Handles, maintained by Hugh McLeod, which lists improvisation games and instructions for playing.
For more ideas, read some of these theatre game books.
Game Type: Concentration
Age Range: 7-12
Number of Participants: 8-20
Materials: None
Explanation: Ali Baba is sort of a physical version of a song in the round. one person starts with a motion, and the next person comes in one line later with the first motion, while the first person is doing the next motion. The game stops when the first motion has successfully made it around the circle to the first person.
How to Play: All participants sit in a circle. The leader begins, saying "Ali Baba and the forty thieves" while doing a repeatable motion (Clapping, snapping) with her hands. As soon as the phrase, "Ali Baba and the forty thieves" is finished, the second person (person to the right of the leader) picks up the leader’s first motion, saying the "Ali Baba" phrase. The leader is now saying "Ali Baba…" for the second time, with a new hand motion, so the second person must still keep an eye on the leader – he will have to duplicate every new motion as the leader finishes. The motions travel around the circle in this fashion, with the leader coming up with a new motion every time she says "Ali Baba…", until the first motion reaches the leader. That is, the leader sees the person to her left making the first motion that she made, and so stops her action. Then the non-action follows through the circle until the last person has repeated the last motion.
Notes: It is easier at first for the participants to keep their eyes on the person to their left, so that they can see each new motion clearly. As they get better at switching the motions as necessary, the participants can try following the motions without looking directly at the person to their left. The leader should make sure each motion she does is different from the ones before, as a repetition causes confusion.
Game Type: Warm-up
Age Range: 5+
Number of Participants: 5-20
Materials: A piece of fabric, about a yard square, solid color or pattern
Explanation: This game stimulates imagination by encouraging multiple answers for the same question.
How to Play: Participants stand in a circle. The leader shows the fabric to the participants, saying "What could this piece of fabric be? We’re going to pass it around the circle and each of you will show us something that it could become." The leader demonstrates, turning the fabric into something (for suggestions, see list below) and stating what it is. The fabric is passed from person to person, with each participant sharing an idea. If an idea is repeated, such as "a hat", the leader asks the participant to be more specific (a turban, a bonnet), thereby making the participant come up with their own idea. If the number of participants is small enough, the fabric can travel around the circle twice. A variation on this game is to limit the ideas to a category such as clothing, or things that are the color of the fabric.
Notes: Here are some of the answers to the question, although the possibilities are endless.
  • A Superman cape
  • A Diaper
  • A Magic carpet
  • A Flag
  • A Picnic blanket
  • A Dog’s leash
  • A Toga ("One of those things they wore in Greece" was the original description)
  • A Leg cast
  • A Wig
Game Type: Warm-up
Age Range: 7+
Number of Participants: 5-40
Materials: Enough enclosed space to accommodate the number of participants
Explanation: The blob tries to assimilate everyone, and everyone tries to avoid assimilation.
How to Play: Participants spread out in an enclosed area and the Blob is chosen. At the leader’s signal, the Blob begins trying to tag another participant. When the Blob succeeds in tagging a participant, that person latches on to the Blob, becoming part of the Blob. The Blob continues to try to tag others, and as they get tagged, they also join the Blob. Eventually, everyone is the Blob, and there is no one left to be tagged. Encourage both groups of participants as they try to avoid or assimilate, and remember that the last person to be tagged by the Blob is not the "winner" and the first person to be tagged is not the "loser". The objectives for the Blob and the non-blobs should prevent the participants from thinking of this. The group will probably ask to play again, and because this is a fairly short game, there should be time to repeat the game. The second time, encourage the Blob to work together to find better ways to tag people, and the non-blobs to discover original ways to avoid the Blob.
Notes: Make sure that any obstacles that could cause a fall are removed before playing this game.
Game Type: Warm-up
Age Range: 7+
Number of Participants: 5-40 Materials: Enough enclosed space for the participants to play this game.
Explanation: The Blob tries to assimilate everyone, and the other participants try to avoid being assimilated, while all are "blind".
How to Play: The participants spread out in the enclosed playing area, and they close their eyes/put on blindfolds. Remind the participants that they will have to move slowly and carefully to avoid crashing into anyone. Select a Blob by tapping him on the shoulder, and then signal the participants to begin. At the leader’s signal, the Blob begins trying to tag another participant. When the Blob succeeds in tagging a participant, that person latches on to the Blob, becoming part of the Blob. The Blob continues to try to tag others, and as they get tagged, they also join the Blob. Eventually, everyone is the Blob, and there is no one left to be tagged. Encourage both groups of participants as they try to avoid or assimilate, ask them to use senses other than sight to determine where the Blob is or non-blobs are. The objectives for the Blob and the non-blobs should prevent the participants from thinking of this. The group will probably ask to play again, and because this is a fairly short game, there should be time to repeat the game. The second time, encourage the Blob to work together to find better ways to tag people, and the non-blobs to discover original ways to avoid the Blob.
Notes: Make sure that any obstacles that could cause a fall are removed before playing this game. The leader and assistants should monitor the speed and positions of the participants to help avoid any collisions with people or things.
Game Type: Warm-up
Age Range: 7+
Number of Participants: 8-20
Materials: None
Explanation: Participants try to think of as many things as they can that fit into a particular category.
How to Play: Participants sit in a circle and begin a one-two rhythm (Clap-snap, or slap(legs)-clap). One person says, in rhythm, "I am thinking of ….." whatever the category is, and then says something that fits the category. On the second beat after the first person, the second person says something that fits the category, and so on around the circle.
"I-am-thinking-of-kinds-of-fruits" (Clap) "Apple"
(Clap) "Orange"
(Clap) "Strawberries"
(Clap) "Banana"
(Clap) "Watermelon"
It is okay if saying the category items takes longer than one beat, because of multiple syllables, but the participants are not allowed to pause for more than one beat between the end of the last person’s item and their item. Everyone continues this process until someone gets stuck or repeats an item. When this happens, the participants can either start over with a new category, keeping the person who got stuck in the circle, or the person who got stuck could be "out" and the same category could be repeated until there is only one person left. If everyone stays in, the leader could time the participants to see for how long they can continue.
Notes: The category chosen depends on the ages and interests of the participants. A younger, less experienced group could play for a while with a category of "Different kinds of candy", while a high school drama club might have fun with "names of playwrights". The leader should explain that the objective of the game is to keep the category traveling around the circle as long as possible, even if the participants who get stuck or repeat are out. This way, the participant choosing the category won’t be encouraged to come up with an obscure one that only they know several answers to.
Game Type: Improvisation
Age Range: 10+
Number of Participants: 5-15
Materials: None
Explanation: The host of a party and the guests acquire the emotional state of whoever enters the party.
How to Play: One person begins, as the host, with a neutral emotion. The first guest knocks or rings the bell (saying "knock-knock" or "ding-dong"), and enters in highly charged emotional state. Emotions that work well with this exercise include, excitement, fear, anger, jealousy, joy, sadness, etc. As soon as the host picks up on the emotion, she "catches" it, and interacts with the guest. The next guest enters with a different emotion, and the host and guest "catch" it. Things get more chaotic as more guests enter, as each new guest causes a different emotion to permeate the party. Once the first guest has entered, the participants can interact with different people until they notice a change in the emotion, and then they must adapt that emotion. The participants should not watch the new guests for the emotional state, rather, they should let the emotion "travel" to them as it will. To make things really tricky, two guests could enter at the same time with different emotions. The participants will be really wired after this game, so plan accordingly to use that energy.
Notes: If this has not been discussed before, it might be a good time to discuss with the participants how to express negative emotions such as anger without hitting any other participants- what verbal and physical things show anger (in performance) without hurting anyone in reality.
The situations in these starters should be fairly easy for beginning improvisers to put themselves into. Each character has a motivation, what that person wants in the scene. The actors should decide the "why" behind their desire before they start the scene. This will help them to keep focused during the improvisation. The specifics of the scenes can either be determined ahead of time, or they could be made up during the improv.
For Younger Actors (8-12):
  1. A girl brings a dog (not another actor-imagine it is there) into her house who "followed her home". She tries to convince her mother to let her keep the dog.
  2. Two siblings play a board game. One accuses the other of cheating. An argument ensues.
  3. A grandparent and grandchild have a talk about what they did during their day. The child expresses a desire to be older, and the grandparent wishes to be younger.
  4. A teacher tries to teach the multiplication table to a student who only wants to talk about TV shows.
  5. One friend tries to convince another friend that she has seen a UFO. The friend is disbelieving.
  6. A child tries to convince parent to stay home from work and let her stay home form school.
For Older Actors(10+)
  1. A teacher tells a student that she is going to fail science class. The student tries to convince the teacher that she will improve, and asks her not to put an F on the report card which comes out next week.
  2. A mother and son/daughter are shopping for school clothes. The Mother does not think her child’s attire choices are appropriate for his/her age/weight/personality.
  3. One friend tries to convince another that he has seen a UFO. (Is he lying or not?)
  4. A young child is at the doctor’s office with his/her mother to get a shot. The child is very frightened and the doctor has to use tactics in order to give the shot. The mother is very nervous.
  5. Two friends are deciding which clubs/classes to sign up for. One wants to take/join something (i.e. cheerleading, ROTC, Feminist Theory) that the other thinks is an awful choice.
  6. One sibling tries to convince another who is shy to come to a party.
  7. A boy has been told (falsely) that a girl likes him. Actually, the girl’s best friend likes the boy. He runs into the girl at the library, and she tries to get him to go over to the section of the library where the best friend is.
  8. A young person has to do a paper on (pick an historical character), but does not want to have to read a lot. He tries to get a salesperson in a children’s bookstore to show him books on the subject that will provide enough information for the report.
  9. A teacher is trying to teach the multiplication table in a one-on-one situation. The student only wants to talk about TV shows.
  10. Three friends are in a restaurant. They try to order from the menu, but each has some dietary restriction that requires them to change the preparation of each dish. The waiter is new on the job.
  11. Two friends are on a talk show. Their problem is that one keeps changing her interests and attire to match the other friend. The talk show host is on the imitator’s side.
  12. Two people are at an amusement park. One wants to ride the newest roller coaster in the park (choose specifics), and the other one is terrified to do so. He/she tries to convince the other not to ride without letting on that he/she is scared.
  13. Girl/boy talks to male/female (opposite gender) friend about new boy/girl she/he is dating. The person is a JERK and the friend doesn’t think she/he should see him/her.
  14. Babysitter tries to get a child to go to bed. The child will not fall asleep, because he/she is afraid of a monster (pick a kind).
  15. Four people are going to the movies, but two want to see one movie (choose a type) and the other two want to see a different one (choose something radically different from first).
  16. A schoolmate tries to convince another to convert to his new religion, which is based on the idea that computers are omnipotent.
  17. Two strangers are stuck in a room that has a security door. The one is overly concerned with getting out, the other wants to become friends, and so is in no hurry.
Game Type: Skills Development
Age Range: 10+
Number of Participants: 8-10/line
Materials: None
Explanation: A pantomimed version of "Whisper down the alley". Participants try to communicate an object or idea to each other so that the last person has the same "message" as the first.
How to Play: Participants are divided into groups of eight to ten people. Each group sits in a straight line, facing backward except for the first person. Participants are not allowed to talk at any point in the game. The first person in each line is given an object to mime (i.e., a toaster, a computer, a jack-in-the-box) – the only requirement is that it can be shown in pantomime in a seated position. The first person taps the second person in line on the shoulder so that they turn to face each other. The first person mimes the object, and when the second person thinks he knows what the object is, he nods. Then the object is mimed to the next person, traveling down the line to the last person. The objective is for the pantomime of the object to be clear enough each time that it stays the same object all the way down the line. Usually, the object changes into something entirely different – the interesting thing is to see how it changed along the line. Each person should tell the others what they thought the object was, and discuss what they saw the others demonstrating.
Notes: There are many variations that can be played with this game, by changing the object to a movie or book title, or incorporating concepts from a curricular area into the game. For example, the pantomime could be of a preposition or a science concept.
Game Type: Group Cohesion
Age Range: 10+
Number of Participants: Unlimited
Materials: None
Explanation: A game for the first day of class, so that everyone learns each others’ names.
How to Play: The participants sit or stand in a circle. The leader says, "We are having a party, and everyone has to bring something for the party that begins with the same first letter as their name. My name is JANINE, and I am bringing a bag of JELLYBEANS." The person to the leader’s right says his name and item, and then repeats the leader’s name and item: "My name is ERIK, I am going to bring EGG SALAD. This is JANINE, who is bringing JELLYBEANS." Each person in turn introduces himself, announces their item, and repeats the name and item of everyone who preceded them. This means that the last person has to remember everyone in the group, or at least try. The leader should encourage others to help out when participants get stuck on someone’s name or item, with verbal or pantomimed clues.
Game Type: Group Cohesion
Age Range: 8+
Number of Participants: Unlimited
Materials: None
Explanation: Participants learn each other’s names with the help of gestures.
How to Play: Participants stand in a circle, and each person in turn says their name, at the same time executing a gesture that expresses their personality. For younger participants, the leader can suggest that the gesture shows a favorite hobby, sport or activity. After everyone has shared their name and gesture, the participants play "tag" with the names and gestures. While standing still, the participants can tag each other one at a time by saying a person’s name and repeating their gesture. The leader should encourage the participants to get to everyone’s name without repeats, so that all members of the group are included.
Notes: The leader should continue this game until he knows almost all of the participants’ names. Hopefully, this will be before the group is bored with the game.
Game Type: Skill Development
Age Range: 7+
Number of Participants: 2-20
Materials: A melange of 20 to 50 objects, pens/pencils and paper
Explanation: Participants try to remember things they can no longer see.
How to Play: Prior to playing, the leader places the group of objects on a table and covers it with a cloth or places it in a separate room, so that no one can see it ahead of time. The leader explains that the participants have one minute to look at the objects on the table, and then they will be asked to write down as many objects as they can remember. The participants are not allowed to touch any of the objects, and they cannot talk aloud during the minute of looking. The leader has the participants stand around the table, and pulls the cover off, saying "Go." After timing a minute, the leader covers the table, and asks the participants to write down as many objects as they can remember. The leader gives the participants two minutes to do this, and at the end of this time, the leader lists all of the objects on the table.
Notes: This game helps participants focus on their sense of sight – it can be repeated so that they can try different methods of remembering all of the objects.
The two lines in each scene are to be repeated over and over again in a predetermined situation, i.e., for scene one, character A is stuck underneath a fallen tree, and character B is not strong enough to lift the tree.
A: Help me.
B: I can’t.
A: I’m sorry.
B: It’s all your fault.
A: Stop it.
B: Make me.
A: What are you doing?
B: What does it look like?
A: It’s time to go.
B: Not yet.
A: I need you.
B: Just a minute.
Game Type: Improvisation
Age Range: 10+
Number of Participants: 2
Materials: A Bench
Explanation: In this game, one person decides the character for both participants. The other participant has to react to this while trying to determine their character.
How to Play: One participant sits on a bench. The setting is a park, and the person on the bench has no character until the second participant enters. The second participant has decided who she is, and who the person sitting on the park bench is. For example, the person entering could decide, "The person on the bench is a famous author, and I am a great fan of their work." In this situation, the actor would recognize the person on the bench, react to seeing their favorite author in person, ask for an autograph, and tell the author about which books she likes best. The actor on the bench, meanwhile, has to adapt to the situation, developing their character bit by bit. The improvisation ends when one actor exits, hopefully after everyone figures out who they are.
Notes: With younger or less experienced actors, the leader may want to supply the person entering with characters, so that there is no worry about clear characters.
Game Type: Improvisation
Age Range: 9+
Number of Participants: 2-20
Materials: Pictures of people, as many as Participants (see Notes)
Explanation: Participants will use pictures as inspiration in creating characters, and interact with others as their characters. They will try to determine which picture the other participants used for their inspiration after interacting with them.
How to Play: Participants spread themselves out in the room, so that each person has enough space to think without distractions. The leader passes out a picture to each participant, explaining, "DO NOT let anyone else, even me, see your picture. You have three minutes to look at the person in your picture and become that person. Decide what kind of personality he or she has, how old the person is, what kind of life they lead, etc. Use the picture to help you decide - are there details about the person's clothes, their surroundings, their face which give you ideas? Try to create a "story" for this person, as well as a voice, mannerisms, attitude. All of your characters will attend a party at the end of the three minutes." The participants should not talk to one another before the three minutes are up. At the end of the three minutes, the participants hand in their pictures. As soon as they hand in the picture, they transform into their character. The leader should explain that they need to talk to the other characters, as if they are at a party. The participants should attempt to talk to everyone else, and try to remember things about the other characters. The party lasts five to ten minutes, depending on the number of participants. At the end of this time, the leader asks everyone to discard their characters and become themselves. The leader then shows the participants the pictures that were used, and asks the group to identify whose character matches with the picture. (Don't tell the participants that this will happen ahead of time. The temptation of "fooling" everyone is too great to resist for some people, and these people will purposefully make their character unlike their picture if they know there will be guessing.) The group should discuss their reactions to their pictures, and to others' as well as how everyone developed their character.
Notes: The pictures can be cut out of magazines, and then pasted onto oak tag or posterboard for stability. Try to get a good assortment of people - all ages, races, levels of attractiveness, and don't put any famous faces in the bunch. The more interesting the setting and the appearance of the person, the more there is for the participants to use for inspiration. Remember, there are no wrong answers - but the participants should be able to answer "why" questions about the character and picture.
Game Type: Concentration
Age Range: 7+
Number of Participants: 5-20
Materials: As many one syllable objects as participants- pen, book, etc.
Explanation: The object of the game is to pass the object or objects around the circle without stopping or breaking the rhythm of the script– eventually, the group should be able to complete a circle in which everyone has an object.
How to Play: The participants sit in a circle. One person has a watch (GIVER), which she will hand over to the person on her right (RECEIVER) once the lines are completed. The first time, the watch is passed from one person to the next, following the script (see below) until the watch is back at the beginning. Once everyone knows the lines exactly as written, the group can try two objects. The person with the watch again passes it to the right, but the person to the left of her hands her a pen AT THE SAME TIME that she is handing over the watch. This means that the person with the watch is saying both parts of the script – the GIVER’S and the RECEIVER’S part. The chart below will illustrate.
(The GIVER has a watch, and turns to the person on her right, the RECEIVER)

GIVER: (Offering Watch)
This is a Watch.

A What?
A Watch.

A What?
GIVER: (Replying)
A Watch.

Oh, A Watch. (Takes Watch)
The RECEIVER now has the watch, and becomes the GIVER with the person to her right, who is now the RECEIVER, and they repeat the same script.

When there are two objects in the circle, someone is the GIVER and the RECEIVER simultaneously, and must say both sets of lines.
ARROWS indicate to whom the comment is directed

This is a Pen. This is a Watch. (silence)
(silence) A What? A What?
A Pen. A Watch. (silence)
(silence) A What? A What?
A Pen. A Watch. (silence)
(silence) Oh, A Pen. Oh, A Watch.

Notes: It is best to move from one object to two, then to three, and so on from there. Do not add another object until the group has successfully completed a circle with the number before. This is not an easy game for everyone to master, but nearly everyone can with some perseverance. I have taught this game to over two hundred different children, and only one of those did not learn it – he quit trying after the first time. Most likely, some participants will catch on faster than others, and become frustrated with those who are having difficulty with the rhythm. As soon as this occurs, it is time to say "Well, we have all been working very hard at this game. The next time we try it, maybe we will be able to give everyone an object." Usually, the participants are eager enough to master the game that they will practice with others until you see them again. It may help to have the lines written on a large piece of paper for visual learners, and if you have an assistant or two, demonstrate the game with them.
Game Type: Group Cohesion
Age Range: 10+
Number of Participants: 4-10
Materials: None
Explanation: Participants enhance their communication skills by passing "you" from one person to another.
How to Play: Participants stand in a circle. One person starts by gesturing towards someone else in the circle and saying "You." That participant then gestures and says "you" passing it to another person in the circle. There is no particular order or sequence for the "you", but as it is passed, the energy of gesture and volume of the "you" increases. This continues until one participant achieves such energy and volume that the person to whom she is passing the "you" realizes that he cannot top it. The energy and volume then begins to decrease in steps until the gesture disappears and the "you" is not heard, only mouthed. From there, the mouthing stops, the "you" is passed with movement of the eyes, and eventually nothing happens to indicate who has the "you", but it is still being passed around the circle. It will get lost very soon after this point, but the participants will feel as if they have had a psychic connection with each other.
Notes: This game is especially good for small cast plays to try with each other. The more secure and closer actors feel with each other, the more risks they will be able to take in rehearsal.

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The Son from America