The games below provide a good basis for developing creativity, the ability to concentrate on the partner and to give a quick reaction or response, improvisation skills, the ability to be responsive and to work in a team. 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 theatre as a drama teacher working with both adults and teenagers.
Exploring the expressiveness of our body language in a playful situation helps us to release
inhibitions, to liberate associative thinking, and it is a kind of training to develop a ready-to-play attitude: being flexible, having quick responses, coming up with new ideas.
Structure of the process:
1. Mexican Wave – gestures
Participants stand in a circle. The idea is to send a gesture around the circle just like a Mexican wave. One participant starts with a gesture, the participant on their right makes exactly the same gesture, copies / mimics it. Then the next one makes it, and so on, till, the gesture goes round like a wave back to the person who started it. Then the second person starts another gesture and so on.
Variations: gradation / exaggeration – sounds
One player starts with a small gesture. The next player takes it over and makes it even bigger. This continues all the way around until the last person takes it to the extreme. It goes on: after one round the next participant starts another one with another gesture.
After a couple of times with just movement, the participants can add a sound as well. Encourage the participants to never lose a sense of the original gesture in their exaggerations.
2. What is it? What is it for?
Choose an object with a characteristic shape. It could be any object. Stand in a circle and pass the object from one participant to the next one. Every member who has the object in their hands shall use it as if it was another object. Anything but the real one. Without any words they should mime till the others start guessing and find out what the imaginary object actually is. In case there are no more ideas, put the object in the middle of the circle so that anybody who has any idea can pick it up.
3. Imaginary Objects / Magic Plasticine /Made Of Air
Create a standing circle. Explain to the class that in your pocket you have a very special, very magical plasticine. Mime pulling a tiny ball out of your pocket and showing it to the class. Explain that this ball is magic because you can shape it into whatever you want. Give an example. Shape an object and start miming to use it, so the participants can guess what it is. Then shape it back into a ball. Pass the magic plasticine to one
member in the circle. They shall shape another object made of air, and show how it works till the others are guessing. And so on.
4. Catch the… thing!
Stand in a circle. Like in the game before, shape an object from air. It shall have a form, a weight and a size. You have to mime if it’s very heavy, big or small and lightweight. Pass the object to anyone in the circle with throwing. Remind the participants that their whole bodies should reflect how heavy or light the object is, especially when passing it to
another person or catching it. Encourage them to make strong eye contact with whomever they are passing it to. Every participant makes a new object from the magic plasticine.
5. Freeze and justify
Participants walk around the space, constantly changing the shapes of their bodies, exploring unusual poses (consider adding instrumental music to help their imagination). The facilitator at any point can call out “Freeze!” at which point all the participants freeze in their current pose. The leader calls out a name and asks them to “Justify!” their pose. For instance, a participant posed with their arm raised high above their head might be
“cleaning cobwebs from the ceiling” or “raising his hand in a classroom” or “playing basketball and just threw a 3 pointer”. It is the participant’s job to imagine a situation in which their pose makes sense. After the leader asks about 3 or 4 participants to justify, unfreeze everyone and let them walk around again, posing some more. Repeat!
The facilitator names a spot or / and a situation / characters, and then counts from 5 to 1. To ‘1’ the whole group shall be in a Freeze Frame in one big tableau. Aim to create the picture as expressive as it can be. So that whoever takes a glance at the picture could interpret immediately where it is, who the characters are, how they relate to each
other. Be aware of the others and aim to connect to them. Be aware of what they are doing and be responsive (e.g. on a beach do not stand in the deep water to play beach ball, you shall detect where the sea and where the sand is…)
In these games there are no wrong answers or ideas or mistakes. Every idea shall be taken and taken on. That’s how we can learn and practice being aware of others, being flexible and open to impulses and suggestions. The facilitator shall always tell the rules of the game very exactly at the beginning so that they are clear and leave no questions. However, after telling the instructions, it helps when the facilitator asks if there are
any questions, and we start the game only when everything is clear.
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. Once you’ve built up concentration, you can bring the next level with the next game. Tableau is comfortable even for the slightly shier participants so they can be relaxed and prepare themselves for the next games where there are only one / two / three people in the middle and the others are watching. Nothing is obligatory though. But during the games it is important to keep playing all the time. Even if you think you have no idea. Anything is better than nothing!
For more drama based games offline and online see:
Written by: Fanni Szemerédi, InSite Drama, Hungary