Sunday, 15 April 2012

Drama Handout Primary conference Bohemia

Notes to a workshop for OUP seminars

(Workshop prepared by David Fisher, presented by Christopher Good and Kathryn Hume-Cvancarova)

A Scale

Tell the students to go to one corner of the room if they feel, for example, very very happy and to go to the opposite corner if they feel for example very very unhappy, and to stand in a place along that scale according to how they feel. Then they should talk to somebody close to them about it for 20 seconds or so.

Walking Game 1 (Hello)

Students have to 'meet' everybody in the room, that is to say that they must shake hands, look in the other person's eyes and say 'Hello!' For the first time give them a strict time limit to meet everybody else, for example 45 seconds. Then repeat the activity with various conditions e.g. imagine that they are very old, very shy, or that they are good friends who haven't seen eachother for a long time.

Crazy couples (another ice-breaker)

Everybody has to think of an adjective that begins with the same letter as their name and introduce themselves with it. For example my name is David so I could use the adjective 'dangerous' and introduce myself as 'Dangerous David'. When everybody has their new adjective name, they should make couples and walk around together meeting other couples and introducing their partners ..... E.g. ' Hello, this is my friend Active Angela.'


In the Czech Republic this well known game is called “Kufr”, after a TV show that used it. Recently in England I found it as a board game called “Articulate”. The idea is simply that a word is shown (e.g. written on the board), that some students can see and others can't. Students who can see the words have to describe them without using gestures or parts of the words themselves. The other students have to guess what the word is. This is a good short game to use at the beginning or at the end of a lesson to review new vocabulary. Tip: be sure to prepare the words ahead before you play the game as it is easy to suddenly dry up if you try to make them up on the spot (at least that's what often happens to me.)

Human Puppet Theatre

This is a good technique to get students performing in the classroom in a well-structured and low- pressure way. Here is an example scene from The Bear Educational theatre show 'DIY Theatre.'

Narrator - It was ten past seven. It was raining. Angela was waiting outside the cinema. She was wearing a beautiful red hat. She was wet. She had left her umbrella at home. But she was happy. She was looking forward to seeing a film with Chris.

Angela looked at her watch. She sighed. She opened her handbag, she took out a mirror. She saw a spot on her nose. She squeezed the spot.

While she was squeezing the spot, Chris arrived. He smiled. Angela smiled. He took a letter out of his pocket. He gave the letter to Angela. He said:

Chris - Angela, please give this to Barbara tomorrow. It’s very important. Thanks.
- Chris kissed Angela on the cheek. (Chris looks dubious, Girl 1 urges him on). He went

away. Angela put the letter into her handbag. She threw away the cinema program. She went home.

Setting up Little Red Riding Hood

The principle of Human Puppet Theatre is quite simple, but here is a demonstration of a more ambitious project, playing the whole story with a class, in about fifteen minutes.

Stage 1 (Tableaux)

There are two main settings for this story, a forest and Grandmother's house. The students can create these settings using the principle of tableaux. Half the class sit down and watch the other half make a tableaux of a forest. When the picture is being made teachers should be sure to emphasise the following presentation skills - be totally still and quiet (the tableau should be a picture, not a moving scene), don't stand behind anybody else, show your face to the front (i.e. don't hide yourself).Then they change over and the other group make a tableaux of Grandmother's house.

Stage 2 (walking as characters)

The next stage to get students tuned into the story is another walking game. This time they should walk around the space pretending to be different characters from the story. The teacher should shout these out. E.g. ' Now walk around as if you were the Hunter.' Etc...

Stage 3 (A quick rehearsal)

Now the teacher should cast the characters in the play. So they should find somebody to play Riding Hood, the mother, the grandmother, the wolf and the hunter. It is a good idea to do one more exercise before performing the show itself. It gets everybody tuned in and focused. The teacher explains that everybody is to walk around the room, but when you shout 'Stop!' they should all go straight to the back of the stage. They will then shout the name of one of the characters. This character will then walk across the stage on their own. However if the teacher shouts 'forest' or ' house' the rest of the students who are not playing one of the characters should move forward and create their tableaux again. Running this exercise could for example go like this ........

' Everybody walk around please.....walk around ..... Stop! Everybody to the back of the stage quickly ..... now, Hunter. Hunter walk across the stage please ....... good, thank you. Now everybody walk around please .... walk around ..... Stop! Forest! Who is in the forest? Step forwards and make your picture, looking forwards, this way ..... Good. Walk around... walk around ......' etc.

Stage 4 (The show itself)

So now it is time to put up the show. If it is a different story, you will have to prepare the text for the narrators yourself. My tip for this is to focus on short sentences which have actions that are easy to perform. You will notice that the text here is a mixture of instructions describing movements and spoken words. It is possible to ask the students playing the different characters to improvise the text. For example they should all have a good idea what Red Riding Hood's mother says to her. However, in case you prefer to give actual text to your students I have included this in brackets.Also I have underlined phrases that the narrator could emphasise as a cue for action from the 'actors'.


Once upon a time there was a girl called Litte Red Riding Hood. (LRRH should come forward). One day her mother (Pause here so that the mother can come forward) gave Little red riding Hood a basket with food and wine and the mother said ___________. (Pause here for the mother character to improvise a line. It could be ...... ' Take this basket to your grandmother.)

Little Red Riding Hood answered ________________________.
here for the LRRH character to improvise a line. It could be ...... ' Yes mother.')
So Little Red Riding Hood took the basket and went to the forest.
here while the forest people make the tableau of the forest.)
While she was in the forest she met a wolf.
The wolf asked Little Red Riding Hood ___________________?

(Pause here for the wolf character to improvise a are you going?')
Little red Riding Hood answered ________________. (Pause here for the LRRH character to improvise a this basket of food to my grandmother.”)

The wolf said ______________
here for the wolf character to improvise a
way. It is quicker.'
Little Red Riding Hood went on through the forest
Grandmother's House.
here while the forest people go back and the house group make the tableau of Grandmother's house.)
The wolf knocked on the door and Grandmother opened the door.
The grandmother asked the wolf ....
here for the Grandmother character to improvise a line. It could be “What do you want?”)
the wolf said ________.
here for the wolf character to improvise a line. It could be “I want to eat you.” )
The wolf ate the grandmother. Then he put on the grandmother's clothes and got into her bed. Little Red Riding Hood came to Grandmother's house. She opened the door, and she said ____________.
Then the wolf said _______________.
Little Red Riding Hood said ________________.
The wolf said _______________
Then she said __________, then the wolf said ___________.
of pauses here for the LRRH and wolf characters to improvise lines. They could be ‘Why do you have such big eyes.' 'So that I can see you better.' ' Why do you have such big ears?' 'So that I can hear you better.' 'Why do you have such big teeth?' ' So that I can eat you.')
Then the wolf ate Little red Riding Hood. The wolf fell asleep. While he was sleeping a Hunter came to Grandmother's house. He looked in the window and he saw the wolf. Then he went into the house, he took out his knife. He cut open the wolf's tummy. Little Red Riding Hood and the grandmother came out of the wolf's stomach. They were very happy. And they all lived happily ever after. Apart from the wolf. The End.

line. It

line. It

could be ...... ' Where could be “I'm taking could be ...... ' Go this

line. It
but the wolf ran quickly ahead to

Extra games and ideas

Walking Game (A variation)

You can use the simple idea of walking around the space to practice specific grammar. For example give the command ..'walk around as if you were going to meet somebody you love after two years,' or .... ' as if you had just eaten a worm by mistake' .

Spontaneity Games

Here are two spontaneity games for different levels, that can also be used as warm ups. In all cases the aim is for students to react immediately without preparing.

What are we doing? (What am I doing?) (Elementary)

This can be played by the students in pairs or in teams or with the class as one team and the teacher as the other. One team asks „What are we doing?“ The other team then tells them an activity that they are doing, e.g. „You are swimming.“ The first team then mimes that activity for a short while, before the second team then asks, „What are we doing?“

Word association. (Lower Intermediate to Advanced)

In a circle the teacher says a word and the first student has to say the first word that they think of which is associated with that word. The next student thinks of a word that is associated with the first student’s word, and so on around the circle. After some time the teacher stops the group and they have to go back and remember the associations, i.e. what they said and why.

Note: here especially, students should be encouraged to not prepare what they are going to say. They should react only to the word that is said immediately before them.

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