Archives For Games

Some of my favourite theatre games to improve your skills

Happy Zombies!

Happy Zombies!

Sometimes called ‘Paranoia’ (and possibly other things), but we prefer the Zombies tag. Some games are just designed to get you physically moving, laughing and engaged with your fellow actors. This game has the added bonus of requiring that you know everyone’s name.

So, a good game to play if the group needs to get acquainted and if they are feeling a little lethargic at the beginning of a rehearsal. Instead of actual names you could use character names as well – that gets them thinking!

How to play
Choose a zombie to start. They cannot run (zombies always stagger with outstretched arms – everyone knows that), but they can walk pretty fast. The zombie starts heading to an unsuspecting victim and one touch from the zombie and you’re dead (or out – same thing really). You could work some theatrical deaths in though – that always goes down well. Before the zombie reaches you, you can save yourself by either getting out the way (doesn’t always work) OR shouting out someone else’s name. That person then becomes the zombie and the orginal zombie is released from the terrible zombie curse. People usually get caught out at this changeover moment. You think you’re safe, but then the pursued person calls out the name of the person standing next to you! Yikes! And so it goes on. Simple but fun and everyone gets moving! If you panic and can’t remember a name chances are the zombie will get you …..

Towards the end it gets very difficult to catch anyone, so you can always bring in extra rules. No running at all, smaller area to work in, pursued people can only hop – that sort of thing.

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If we called ‘theatre games’ by another name – say …’performance-based awareness, productivity and skill enhancement exercises’ no one would want to play but more people might appreciate their value!

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A wise person said that ……

Now there's a challenge!

Now there’s a challenge!

You remember the days when you used to play ‘make-believe’? Ok, some of us don’t actually stop doing that, but I’m talking about a time when you could be immersed in a game and it became almost real for you. I remember playing in the woods and in my mind the place was inhabited with all sorts of mythical creatures and beasts that became a part of my story. It was magical. You could go for ages getting wrapped up in your own wonderful world. In theatre I try to recreate some of the potential in that sort of creativity with theatre games. I started, some years ago, running longer games and improvisation sessions with my youth group. We could run a game for hours and not get bored or run out of ideas. It’s brilliant to see people constantly creating a new world, spontaneously responding to situations and relationships with others without breaking character. I have a few ‘event’ type games that I’ll post up over the next few weeks, but this one is played in a similar way and is very engaging to take part in and to watch! Continue Reading…

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Yep, 'fraid our 'witches scene' was rather silly

Yep, ‘fraid our ‘witches scene’ was rather silly

Whilst I was running a youth theatre a few years back I was asked if we could do something for ‘Shakespeare Day’…. Well yes, but no time to get a full length play together. People were doing things in and around the town on the day in question. Sonnets in the teashop, that sort of thing.
Scenes from Shakespeare? Well, possibly I thought…
But then … why not have all the classic bits that lots of people would know on a menu and place the menu on tables in the local theatre foyer when it was open on Saturday morning (shakespeare Day in fact). Along with coffee and cake the customers can choose a short scene, famous soliloquy or adapted or related extract (could be a song related to Shakespeare, a comedy sketch etc). Get a band of suitably robust players together, a few different hats and props and they can spend 2 hours (or so) going from table to table performing requests and raising some funds at the same time (take the hat round). Our trusty band of players were kept fully occupied for 2 hours and we had to get an order system going! Great fun and (of course) you can do it with any sort of material at all. Favourite bits? Macbeth’s witches went down rather well…
Make up your own menu to suit the occasion and get your travelling players going from table to table!

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This is a great theatre game to get your group working together as a team and relying on each other for support!
Give everyone a number & challenge them to remember it (!) Then they walk around the space with awareness of their physical relationship to everyone else.
No talking.
No pairs.
No bumping into each other.
Just a silent contemplation of the group.

The facilitator calls out a number*

The person with that number swoons/falls (with or without noise) and the rest of the group run to his aid and support him so he doesn’t fall. Having successfully saved that person the group continues to walk and another number is called out.

*You can change what happens when the number is called, but it must result in the rest of the group rushing to their aid.

BENEFITS

  • Your group members learn to trust each other
  • They get used to physical contact
  • They allow themselves to become vulnerable, knowing they will be ‘saved’
  • They physically relax in the presence of others

PITFALLS

  • If some members of your group are VERY body conscious, or heavy, you may want to change what happens when the number is called to make sure the group can manage the task and no one is made to feel awkward. This is often a problem with body conscious teenagers and overweight adults. Don’t risk physical injury. DO encourage everyone to participate – change the game to suit if necessary. Don’t let them go away from the game feeling too ‘different to be part of it.
  • There are always those within the group that will test the group to its limits by walking too far outside of the space. That way when their number is called they cannot be saved as they are too far away and they fall. This has the effect of making the group look responsible for the ‘failure’. In fact it is the group member that cause the situation by refusing to be part of the group and play be the group rules. Be very clear about this to all members! It is not up to the group to be generate superhuman responses to save stray members. Each person has a responsibility to be part of the group.
  • Other than that it’s a great game and allows your group to develop physical contact and trust.

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How much fun is it safe to have in one game?

How much fun is it safe to have in one game?

In my post Introductions I mentioned that the game can get a lot more complcated and challenging. It can and this is how:

First – read the previous post so you know the basics!
Then adapt what your group do and make it progressively more complex
Make sure your group are thoughtful and considerate to each other as possible! They will laugh at each other as well but try and keep them from embarrassing each other or making fun of each other – that could lead to a backwards step in the group dynamics.
After each idea the group always copy the person speaking/acting as faithfully as they can. I won’t keep putting that down – but don’t leave it out! Important that the group act as one when they copy, especially in early days. Continue Reading…

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IMG_2037

I know .. there are loads of ways to introduce yourself when a new group first gets together. And there are loads of ways to start a rehearsal with a group of people not used to working with each other. This is one of my favourites and it rarely fails to get everyone in good humour and out of their respective shells so you can start to work on other, more testing activities! The photo is actually a photo taken at the beginning of a rehearsal for Beauty & the Beast and shows the cast enjoying this very game.

So .. to start off Continue Reading…

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Ok. Not a slow motion race at all... but if you ignore most of it .. it just could be ...

Ok. Not a slow motion race at all… but if you ignore most of it .. it just could be …


So .. theatre games? Love them – or don’t see the point?
I LOVE them. If you have a group that meets regularly and you want them to learn how to work together, improve performance skills, gain confidence and awareness on stage, you need to play games. The word ‘games’ conjures up an activity that is designed to amuse us. Ok, we may be aware that on some level we’re being tested, but generally you can find a game where to ‘play’ doesn’t take too much effort (or you could just opt to lose if you really can’t be bothered). But theatre games are not only fun, they are the lifeblood of our performing skills and ensemble work. Over the next few months I’m going to write about the games I really like, the ones I find useful and engaging and the ones I’ve devised for youth theatre/school sessions. Continue Reading…

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