This is a collection of concentration and improvisation games, best suited for Middle School and older students. They are intended mostly for actor training, and are thus a little less concerned with cross-curricular or social learning than most of my lessons. These games were sent to me by Edwena Jacobs, a fellow drama teacher and cybercolleague. This is exactly the sort of thing I started this website for. Drama teachers are few and far between--we're nearly always the only drama teacher in our school or district--and we can't have the kind of exchange of ideas face-to-face that, say, History teachers can. I have tried most of these games, and they are great. Thanks, Edwena!
The class divides into pairs.
Each has to think of a story to tell the other--for example, the plot of a recent TV play or film they have seen.
At a signal from the teacher, they both start telling each other the story at the same time.
They must look at each other in the eye without looking away, and they must keep talking without a break and without laughing.
If either breaks down, the other has "won."
Telling the Group
One person tells the rest of the group a story, or gives them a talk on a set subject.
The others interrupt him by asking totally unrelated questions.
The speaker must answer the questions and then continue with the story or talk without hesitation, and from exactly the point where he left off.
Truth and Lies
The class divides into pairs. In each pair, one is the questioner and the other the answerer.
The questioner asks questions in rapid succession.
The answerer must answer the questions, alternating between true answers and lies. He must not hesitate or laugh, and he must keep strictly to the alternation.
If the answerer hesitates or laughs, or if he fails to alternate between truth and lies, he is "out" and the partners reverse roles.
Situation and Acting Games
Making Enquiries (Edwina speaks the King's English)
This rather complicated game is particularly useful with a new class who do not know each other very well.
The class divides into pairs and each pair decides who is 'A' and who is 'B'.
To begin with, A has to find out as much as he can about B in 2 minutes.
At the end of that time, the As stay where they are and the Bs change partners.
The class are then told that B is a policeman who is suspicious of A and intends to question him.
A has to pretend that he is the B he has just questioned. He has to remember all the details that he can from that conversation so that when the new B starts questioning him - about his name, address, and so on - he can answer with detailed information, in role as his former partner. (When he can't remember, he is at liberty to invent.)
Repeat the game with new partners (and with As becoming Bs).
All Change - Conversations
The class divides into pairs and decide on who is 'A' and who is 'B'.
The teacher then gives the class a simple and straightforward topic for conversation, or a situation (e.g.: A is a local in the town and B is a stranger. B is asking the way to the station.)
They converse for a minute or two and then the teacher interrupts with fresh instructions that alter the situation partially but not completely (e.g.: Now A is old and deaf; or, now B is a rich and famous person).
Teacher continues to make changes, with increasing swiftness and strangeness, as the game progresses.
The class sits in a circle and the teacher asks for a volunteer to start the game.
The volunteer thinks of a mime--either a task or an activity--that involves a lot of people doing different things (e.g.: building a house; shopping at a supermarket).
The volunteer begins the mime he has thought of.
The teacher then indicates different members of the class who must join in, either assisting the first person or using the location he has chosen.
The teacher's aim is to get as many people in the class involved as he can, and in as short as time as possible.
My Note: This is very similar to a game I use all the time under a different name, The Martha Game. There's a more detailed description of it in Improvs and Warmups.