Fresh-ups for Theatre

Theatre sessions start with games and exercises. Find here an example description of the excercise “What are you doing?” and below the descriptions of some short games applied during the project’s training activities.
The main inspiration is taken from Augusto Boal, Games for Actors and Non-actors, see here.

Before stepping into the games, three points:
1. All people can be actors. One idea of the Theatre of the Oppressed is to overcome the distinction between actors and the (passive, consuming) audience.
2. What participants do is based on their free decision. If anyone avoids taking part in an exercise, it is o.k. All is voluntarily.
3. Making mistakes is o.k.! 🙂

The exercises

Greetings: Participants – actors and non-actors – walk through the room. They greet each other by hand, by knee, then by shoulder, later as a cat („miau“), as a frog („quak, quak“), as very good friends, as business persons, in an enthusiastic way, and with a sad feeling in this moment. They walk upon a small bridge connecting a deep gorge; they have to protect themselves against a storm and can enjoy the sun afterwards.

Another version: All walk through the room. The trainer says „number 1“ and asks one participant to show a gesture; later he/she asks other persons (number 2,3,4). All continue walking. The trainer calls a number and all actors show the appropriate gesture.

Mixed salad: We build smaller groups. Every group agrees on one fruit (apple, orange, kiwi …). The trainer pays attention that all fruits are different. The whole group sit then in a circle. There is one chair less compared to the number of persons. One participant stays in the middle of the circle. He / she calls one of the fruits, for example „apple“. Every „apples“ have to get up and to choose another chair. The person in the middle takes the chance to ‘catch’ a chair. Someone else will remain in the middle. It is now up to her/him to call a fruit. It is also possible to call „mixed salad“. Then everyone of the whole group has to change the chair as quickly as possible.

French telephone“: Participants stay in a circle. One shows a gesture, for example touching the nose. The other actors make one after the other the same gesture, but always bigger than the preceding one. At the end we could see someone touching a nose, turning a finger in a cicle round the nose and turning around himself…

Confidence: Participants walk in couples through the room, one partner with closed eyes. Both have agreed on sounds (for example „miau, miau“, „knick – knock“, or others) which will be given by the partner with the open eyes to ‘lead’ the other. The ‘blind’ person follows the acoustic signals of the partner. She stops walking when the sounds finish. Roles shall then be changed. In this way, everyone could lead once (take over responsibility) and dare trust, too.

Discovering the room: Build couples. One of the partner closes the eyes. The other leads the partner through the room. He/she shows the ‘blind’ partner 5 objects. At every object the partner with its closed eyes will be touched and therefore requested to open the eyes for a short moment in oder to see the object and to keep it in mind. After that both partners go and see all objects again. The participant with closed eyes shows to the partner what he/she has seen. The roles can be changed afterwards.

Shaping vowels: All participants stay in a circle. The facilitator starts with a vowel, for example „i“, and pass it to his/her neighbour. The neighbour receives, transforms and sends the vowel to the next person. Everyone is invited to give the sound a personal touch.

Alphabet (sentence): Everyone says a sentence beginning with the letter of the alphabet which is following. Example: The facilitator starts: „As you know, Maria likes red shoes.“ Another person continues: „But red shoes are only for Sunday.“ The next: „Cigarettes too.“ And so on.

Conversation with limited words: Three participants stay in front of the group. They talk about a theme. One person says all the time only one word, the other two, the third only three words. Topics might be holidays, generations, conflict within family, Europe …

Bottle-object: The facilitator puts a plastic bottle in the middle of the room. He/she explains that the object may all be besides a bottle. The participants are invited to develop ideas and show what this „bottle-object »could be used for. It might be ‘transformed’ in a comb, a hoover, an eyelashes spiral, etc.

Instead of a bottle can be chosen other objects like a chair, a bag, or…

Associations: All participants sit in a row. The facilitator puts three chairs in front of the group and takes a seat in the middle of them. He/she says a term, for example „solidarity“. Participants who have an association to this word sit at the right or the left chair. The facilitator asks the person at the right, then at the left using the words: „I am the … [solidarity]. And who are you?“ Neighbours answer: „I am the … [sympathy]“ or „I am the … [good life]“. The facilitator makes a decision between the two answers and goes back to the group. In our example he/she prefer „good life“. The participant with this association moves in the middle of the three chairs. Others of the group with ideas to this term sit at the left and the right of the „good life“. The same conversation type starts – and so on.

Body images: Participants stay in a circle showing their back to the inner side. The facilitator calls a word. All actors take some time to develop a gesture or/and posture referring to the word. Those who are ready turn themselves to the inner circle. All together show the gesture/posture, later separately. Words could be joy, disappointment, rejection, new start, solidarity, politics, etc.

After each exercise should be some time given to talk about participants’ impressions.