The games below give a good ground for developing teamwork and synergy. On the one hand, working in a team means to pay attention to the others, and be a part of the big plan. On the other hand, it also means to find the specific part that one can take within a team. That includes self-knowledge, being aware of one’s strengths and weaknesses. Knowing how to use one’s abilities in favour of the interest of the team. Working as part of a team also means to experience what it takes to head towards a mutual goal and what is needed to get there. All the skills and attitudes above are part of the competence of the Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship (Lisbon Key Competences). Experiencing and practising
them in a game could help to adapt and use them in other contexts and situations.
Fanni Szemerédi has an MA in cultural management and an MA in teaching literature. She
has worked in several cultural programs and drama projects for youth in different theatres in Hungary. Since 2016 she works for a professional independent theatre in Budapest as a program coordinator and also contributes to the youth program of the theater as a drama teacher working with both adults and teenagers.
Paying attention to each other. Helping each other. Concentrating and acting together.
Structure of the process:
> A big enough space for the entire class to walk around comfortably.
> One chair for every participant.
> A long piece of string (or yarn, twine, rope).
> (Grandma’s costume: e.g. hats, wigs, scarves, shoes, handbags)
1. Mexican Clap + Turn the direction
Pass a clap around a circle at super-fast speed! Participants stand in a circle and the idea is to send a clap around the circle just like a Mexican wave. They each have to clap one after another and try to send the clap around as quickly as possible. You can go two or three rounds to improve the pace, rhythm and concentration.
If anybody claps two times, the direction of the circle turns around and goes in the opposite direction. Anyone at any time can turn the direction of the circle with two claps. After a while you can say that when someone makes a mistake, they fall out.
2. One clap at the same time
Participants are standing in a circle. When the facilitator claps, everybody should clap at the same time as the facilitator. Everybody (including the facilitator) should hold their hands in front of their chests, palms facing each other, ready to clap. Everybody should watch the facilitator’s hands and as soon as they move, everybody has to clap. Try to make it sound like one single clap.
3. Filling the space + all at the same time
Ask the participants to spread across the room and start walking around the space. As they walk they should try to cover the space, making sure that they are evenly spread across the floor. There shouldn’t be empty spaces or clustering. They should be aware of each other but should not speak or communicate in any way. They should try to keep in motion at all times but be careful not to touch anyone. If the facilitator claps, they should all freeze at the same time. A second clap allows them to move again.
They should freeze at once without the clap, just by watching each other: if anyone freezes, all the others should freeze, if anyone moves again, all the others should move again.
You can ask them to vary their speed by giving them instructions to walk at a pace from 1 to 10, 10 being the fastest.
4. Slalom / Side to side
Participants are standing in a circle facing each other in pairs, so there are two opposite directions in the circle. When the facilitator claps, they should all move at the same time. Once they start to move, they should shake hands with the person who appears in
front of them next. After shaking hands, walk around the person on the opposite side. Everybody moves side to side / slalom. Every second handshake is taken with the left hand. It is very important to hold a common rhythm and pace. If anyone makes a
mistake, the whole circle falls apart.
After every 4 handshakes everybody turns around and moves in the opposite direction.
5. Secret Leader
The game of teamwork and concentration where a detective must spot a secret leader.
Start standing in a circle. Explain the game and demonstrate it to the participants that one of them will be moving/gesturing and the group will be ‘mirroring’ their action. Send one participant out of the space, to be the detective, and then assign a secret leader. With the leader leading the circle, and the group mirroring, call the detective back to stand in the centre of the circle and try to identify the leader. Ask the group how they may ‚trick’ the detective, e.g. by not looking directly at the leader, or keeping moves flowing enough that there are no sudden movements. Play two or three rounds with other detectives.
6. Grandma’s Footsteps
Although this is a traditional children’s game, it is also great fun for grown-ups. One person is Grandma – he/she faces a wall. The others in the group start at the other end of the room, then try to creep up to Grandma and tap her on the shoulder / tap the wall. However, at any moment, Grandma can turn around suddenly. If she sees anyone moving, she points at them and that person must freeze and stay wherever they are. They can be freed if someone passing them by taps their shoulders. No-one is allowed to move while Grandma is watching them. Whoever manages to tap her on the shoulder / the wall, wins / becomes Grandma (male or female) and the game starts again.
Afterwards, discuss with the group which strategies were the most successful.
To make it more challenging, put some hats, wigs, scarves, shoes, handbags or other items of Grandma’s costume on the floor. Whoever passes by the things on the floor has to put them on and go on wearing them.
7. Zombie wants to sit down
Put chairs in the room all over the place equally spread so that there is always enough space for a person to walk / run among them. There should be one chair for everyone, including the facilitator. But the facilitator doesn’t sit down. So there’s one spare seat in the room. From the edge of the space, the facilitator begins to walk slowly like a zombie at a steady pace toward the empty chair at the other end and wants to sit down on
it. Nobody wants the zombie to sit down! The way the group can stop the zombie from sitting down is to sit on the empty chair before the zombie gets there and sits on it. If someone has already risen from their seat, they can’t sit back, they have to move towards the empty chair. But the zombie detects that there is another empty chair now to sit down on so he or she goes towards the new empty chair. The zombie can’t go fast,
it has to keep a steady slow pace. The longer the zombie can’t sit down, the better. The facilitator can even challenge the group: try to keep the zombie walking for 60 / 30 seconds. Please be careful when running around the chairs. You can give the group 2 or 3 rounds.
After the game you can reflect on what was the best strategy to keep the zombie away from sitting down.
8. Across The River
In this game the chairs are the stones in a fast flowing river. Put the “stones” in a distance from each other in space so that you can move from one stone to the next. If the stone-path is ready, the whole group has to cross the river on the stone-path while holding each other’s hands. They can only step on the stones and can’t fall into the fast flowing river. Nobody should fall.
Please be careful, take care of each other!
9. String Shapes
Ask the participants to put the chairs away. Lay out a long piece of string in front of the group. Each participant shall take hold of a part of the string, holding it with both hands at waist level. The goal is for the participants to work together to create whatever shape the facilitator calls out. The participants must hold onto the string at all times and involve every participant in creating the shape. Begin with the simplest shape, a circle.
Then a square / triangle / rectangle, etc. (For advanced groups; polygons, trapezoids, etc.) Ask them to come up with some sort of gesture to indicate that they have completed the shape. After they’ve gotten the hang of it, instruct them to make the shapes without using any words.
Variations / advanced versions:
Consider asking the group to make two connected shapes (with the same string).
Instead of shapes, consider asking them to create the outline of an object or animal.
Being gradational is essential when playing drama games in a sequence. The games after another should be built up in a structure. At the beginning there are warm up games, to help people arrive and to start to concentrate on each other. There are games more silent, concentrated (e.g. Secret Leader) and there are games to cheer up members / get them moving (e.g. Zombie Wants To Sit Down). Once you’ve built up concentration,
you can bring the next level with the next game. However, it is also important for the program to be varied so that people do not get tired or bored with games very similar to each other.
When playing the games Zombie and Across The River, everybody should be very careful to avoid accidents.
At the end of this sequence there is a game (Human Knot) with close physical contact – by that time the closeness of the others shouldn’t be a problem. It is also a closing, cool-down game.
It’s important to give the instructions very precisely. If anyone has questions, they shall be answered. Make sure every rule is clear. But do not spend too long explaining – sometimes it is better to show how to do something and some-times it is better to try it out first.
If you want to play all the variations and advanced versions or more rounds, the sequence will take more than 65 minutes long.
For more drama based games offline and online see:
Written by: Fanni Szemerédi, InSite Drama, Hungary