Preparation / Play
the Game / Discuss
This game is sort of a combination of "The Martha Game" and "Walking Through,"
but it is different enough in focus that I thought it deserved its own
page. It is an exercise in stage awareness and improvisational teamwork.
Since the players cannot communicate beforehand, the game reproduces pretty
accurately the kind of thinking that is necessary during a production when
something goes wrong and the cast must improvise its way around the problem
on the fly, but it is just as good for teaching unselfishness in team projects
with any age.
Before class, prepare a series of cards, each with a simple sentence
like those listed below:
We are walking through the snowy woods looking for a lost child.
We are walking through a dark alley in search of an escaped convict.
We are walking on the deck of a sailing ship during a storm.
We are walking through the Amazon rainforest cataloguing new species.
We are walking across the desert looking for an oasis.
We are walking across the Great Plains on the way to Oregon.
These are just a few suggestions. You will think of more.
Break the class into groups of around five or six. Groups "perform"
one at a time.
The first group takes a card, and each member looks at it, but THEY DO
NOT DISCUSS IT.
When the teacher says, "GO," the group moves into the performance space
and begins to pantomime the sentence. You can decide for yourself
whether to allow them to make sound effects--I've done it both ways--but
they may not speak words.
The challenge is in the fact that the group as a whole must strive to provide
as many details as possible to make the sentence clear. Usually at
first several people have the same idea--to take the first sentence as
an example, maybe three or four people will choose to be the lost child.
But the group members must pay attention to the total effect, and if someone
else is doing the same thing they are doing, they might decide that it
would be more effective to change to something else, so that the whole
picture will have more details.
After a minute or two, the teacher says, "FREEZE."
The rest of the class must now guess what the sentence is. While
they are guessing, the performers try not to react to the guesses, right
or wrong, because they want to hear all of the honest responses.
After a short discussion, the next group performs.
Once the "real" sentence has been revealed, hold a discussion about
whether the group communicated effectively--they did if most people guessed
the sentence or came close--and what they might have done better.
You can use this as a lead-in to general discussions of teamwork, and of
sublimating one's personal "star quality" to the collective work of art
that is Theatre.
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