Essay: Reading the Room/Handling Emotions – applied theatre facilitation lesson

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Another critical aspect of good Applied Theatre facilitation is being able to read the room. Do we need to move on or do we need to dig deeper? Is the group engaged or distracted? Have one or more individuals become emotionally triggered? Paying attention to the entirety of your group and their level of engagement is crucial. We do not want anyone to feel alone or without support. Everyone should feel comfortable being 100% themselves at all times. Applied Theatre is about the community, for the community and builds community. We’re there for each other.

What are signs that participants are disengaged, frustrated or emotional?

What could happen if we fail to notice, dismiss or ignore these signs?

Let’s brainstorm strategies on how to handle different challenges and write them down:


Based on your Image Theatre facilitation experience, what went well?

Based on your Image Theatre facilitation experience, what would you like to improve?

What did you learn about your facilitation skills? How would you improve on them?

What ideas do you have on how you might implement Image Theatre in your community?

Additional space for notes…

Forum Theatre

This is likely the most robust version of Theatre of the Oppressed and the one that most effectively captures different concrete strategies of intervening in real world situations. Forum Theatre thus becomes a “laboratory” to experiment with different courses of action.
In Forum Theatre the spect-actors perform an improvised or scripted scene in which an oppression relevant to the group is played out. After reaching the conclusion of the scene, in which the oppressed character(s) fails to overturn the oppression, the actors begin the scene again. At any point during this second scene, any spect-actor watching may call out “freeze!” and then take the place of any actor besides the main antagonist/protagonist. They must maintain the basic qualities of the character that they choose to inhabit but are free to make better choices in their efforts to create a more positive outcome.
If/when the oppression has been positively altered by the spect-actors, the production changes again: they now have the opportunity to replace the oppressed and find new ways of overcoming the oppression through the protagonist. You can also replace the antagonist and make the scene more challenging. At any point in these proceedings a spect-actor can call out “magic” which means they believe that the performance is not an accurate representation of reality – not based on acting skills, but on the behavior of the characters. This keeps the proceedings from being empty of depth or just wishful thinking. Different versions include situations where:

• No-one steps in for the actors, but they just give them advice on how to change their behavior to create a different outcome. The actors then play out the changes. Try this and see how it works in different situations. Debrief.
• New characters are created and added to the scene by the spect-actors. This can create interesting additional dimensions. Debrief.
• Before replaying the scene, the audience is able to ask the characters questions about the choices they made and actions they took. This is frequently provocative to engage the audience and generate ideas for intervention. Debrief.

How could you use Forum Theatre in support of the core activities?

Things to think about:

• The role of the facilitator in this type of theatre is a tricky one. It is easy to leave the group with false optimism about what can work, or to run out of time before everyone is satisfied with what has been attempted. The facilitator must make many small decisions in every moment, such as whether or not to allow the introduction of additional characters, whether or not to add interventions upon other interventions, how many interventions to allow, when to stop an intervention when it’s not going anywhere, and so on.
• Facilitating Forum Theatre with large groups can be very challenging. You have to pay attention to whether everyone can hear what the actors are saying. Dividing them into two or more smaller groups may be helpful but will require additional facilitators.
• Although typically used to rehearse real-life situations in the present day, it can be interesting to play around with challenging issues that have occurred in past decades or even think about “what if” scenarios that our future society might deal with.
• Ensure that the spect-actors performing the scene do not make their characters too one-dimensional. We are working on real situations involving real people. No one should be portrayed either too villainous or too virtuous.

A Forum Theatre workshop scene on racism at Louhelen Bahá’í School in 2016


Facilitating Forum Theatre
One of the first things that Forum Theatre spect-actors quickly realize is that, as in life, if they don’t intervene, nothing will change. The next thing they find is that doing “something” is not enough, it must be a strategic something. The people acting as oppressors on stage will maintain their oppression until they are authentically stopped — and just like in life, stopping them isn’t and should not be easy. But all of these revelations and more should come from them – the spect-actors. Not the facilitator. Boal says, “It is not the place of the theatre to show the correct path, but only to offer the means by which all possible paths may be examined.” When someone learns something on their own, it sticks. When they’re told, it’s forgotten.

The Basic outline for facilitating Image Theatre

1. Create a safe environment and facilitate any warm-up exercises you’d like.
2. Explain the version of Forum Theatre that the group will be doing. Give clear, detailed instructions and ensure everyone understands before moving forward.
3. Break the larger group into smaller groups if necessary. Give them time to create the scene if not already completed beforehand. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but should have a clear beginning, middle and end with a conflict that does not get resolved. Applied Theatre is never about the performance, but the experience and the revelations that are uncovered.
4. Come back together as a larger group and present scenes, then repeat with interventions.
5. Debrief each scene with leading questions giving plenty of opportunity for thoughts, ideas and feedback.


Joy, Energy and Enthusiasm

This should be a no-brainer. Theatre is all about energy and enthusiasm, so any facilitator of theatre activities has to have both.

Why do you think energy and enthusiasm in this work is so important?

How does joy affect our strength, our intellect and our understanding?

What are the affects when joy is not present in our being?

How can we create and maintain a genuine state of joy, energy and enthusiasm in ourselves?

Non-judgment and Patience
This is yet another extremely important topic considering the sensitivity of the subject matter typically being addressed. Facilitators should be careful never to dismiss a participant’s thoughts as irrelevant or wrong. They remain neutral, maintaining a safe space for learning to occur.

“O SON OF BEING! How couldst thou forget thine own faults and busy
thyself with the faults of others? Whoso doeth this is accursed of Me.”
~ Bahá’u’lláh

As facilitators, how does this quote apply to our facilitation of Applied Theatre?

In what ways are we responsible for the group’s ability to abide by this guidance?

What practical steps can we take to ensure that non-judgment is always present in the room?

Where does patience come into play?

Humility and Mistakes
A good rule of thumb to remember when facilitating Applied Theatre is that your role should be as a “guide on the side” not a “sage on the stage”. In the Faith, we would say to maintain a “humble posture of learning”. Our job is not to interject our own opinions and thoughts, but to gather the ideas and feelings of the group. When we make mistakes, and we will make mistakes, we should own them and be completely transparent.

In what ways can we maintain a “humble posture of learning” while facilitating?

What are some mistakes you see possibly occurring during a workshop?

Let’s brainstorm strategies on how to handle mistakes:

Now that we have covered and practiced these different aspects of Applied Theatre facilitation, let’s revisit them. Go ahead and rate your new understanding of each of these training/facilitation concepts in relation to Applied Theatre. Hopefully you will feel more confident in each of these areas but mark them honestly in order to identify possible areas that may need more practice. Remember that ultimately, these skills will help you build unity in the group and raise capacity to extend that unity out to the community.

Concept Very Knowledgeable Knowledgeable Some Knowledge Very Little Knowledge No Knowledge
Joy, energy and enthusiasm
Creating a safe environment
Listening and respect
Non-judgment and patience
Giving clear directions
Debriefing activities
Deepening and guiding
Reading the room/Handling emotions
Humility and Mistakes

When filling out the Next Steps section, keep your personal measurements here in mind. How can you improve in these areas? What do you need to be successful? Also, lean on the rest of us by using the Applied Theatre Forum at


Based on your Forum Theatre facilitation experience, what went well?

Based on your Forum Theatre facilitation experience, what would you like to improve?

What did you learn about your facilitation skills? How would you improve on them?

What ideas do you have on how you might implement Forum Theatre in your community?

Additional space for notes…

Now that you have completed this workshop you should be able to:
• Describe the concept of Applied Theatre and how it can increase capacity in our communities
• Successfully facilitate Newspaper, Image and Forum Theatre and a variety of different theatre games and warm-up exercises
• Understand and use effective theatre facilitation techniques
• Effectively combine various social discourse issues with theatre
• Debrief applied theatre activities with a focus on elevating conversations and enhancing social justice work

What do you feel you have learned about Applied Theatre?

What do you feel you have learned about Effective Facilitation?

Brainstorm ideas on how Applied Theatre enhances our capacity for meaningful social discourse.

What’s Next?
No training is complete without an action plan, especially a training like this one that has significant potential to create non-confrontational discourse which is desperately needed. And you are a part of that potential! Let’s take some time to come up with an Applied Theatre action plan together. Think of the core activities and the three areas of action we are called upon to support.

“The friends are called to three simultaneous, overlapping, and coherent areas of action: community-building efforts in clusters; projects and activities for social action; and involvement in the discourses of society…”


Action Step Due Date Resources Available Resources Needed Potential Barriers Envisioned Outcome


Action Step Due Date Resources Available Resources Needed Potential Barriers Envisioned Outcome

Final Thoughts
We sincerely hope you enjoyed learning about Applied Theatre and are on fire to go back and implement the things you’ve learned in your home communities. We hope you see how it can enhance and enrich the core activities and the capacity of the friends to engage in elevated conversations and meaningful social discourse. Theatre is probably the most underutilized art in the Faith. If you run up against challenges helping people understand its value, just quote from Àbdu’l-Bahá – “The drama is of the utmost importance. It has been a great educational power in the past; it will be so again.” YOU now have the knowledge and the capacity to yield that educational power – go forth and elevate hearts! As Augusto Boal has said, “We are all actors: being a citizen is not living in society, it is changing it.”
Theatre Activities/Games
Energy/Focus Games
• 8 count shake – One of the quickest and simplest ways to warm-up. Stand in a circle. Then all together you quickly count to eight while shaking your right arm, then do the same with your left arm, right leg and left leg. Then immediately start over, but only count to four each time. Then two each time, then one.
• Zip, Zap, Zop (Boing) – Stand in a circle. One person starts by “clap-sliding” their hands towards another person in the circle and saying “Zip”. Then that person chooses someone and says “Zap”, then that person chooses someone but says “Zop”. This continues, as fast as you can until someone messes up or hesitates. Then you start over. Variation: If you want to make it more challenging add “Boing”. Anyone can say “Boing” at any time to basically have whatever was just shot their way bounced back to the one who sent it to them. The sender then needs to resend to someone else.
• Sound & Movement Circle – Again in a circle, this one is fairly simple. One person makes some sort of sound and movement and then it moves around the circle increasing in intensity until it reaches the starting person who does it one more time. Then the next person in the circle does a new sound and movement which goes around the circle and so on.
• Energy Ball – Throwing an imaginary ball back and forth in a circle, making different sounds each time it is tossed. Variation: Play around with changing the shape, size and weight of the ball. Or try using two energy balls at once.
• Walking Together – Everyone finds a place in the room. Then they all start walking around the room at the same time. Then they stop walking at the same time. At first someone can call this out saying “walk”, then “stop”. The challenge is to stop calling it out and start and stop walking together without verbal instruction – just feeling when to move.
• Three Changes – Players stand in pairs facing each other. Each person observes the person standing opposite them, noting all details of the person. All pairs then turn their backs to each other and everyone makes three changes to their appearance (moving a ring, unbuttoning a button, changing their hair etc.). Players then face each other again and try to identify the changes in their partner.
• Juggling – The group tries to juggle three balls—not individually, as a whole group. Begin with one ball. One player passes the ball to anyone in the circle, saying their name as she passes. This player then passes to someone else…until the last person gets the ball, and then it goes back to the starting position. Introduce a second ball for round two, and then introduce the third ball. Start slowly and always throw underhanded!

• To Be or Not to Be – Using the most famous Shakespearean phrase of all time, assign one word to each person. If less than ten then some people will have two words. If more than ten, start the phrase over again. The participants try to work together to make the phrase sound as natural and smooth as possible as if being spoken by only one person.
• Numbers – Players stand in a circle. Players try to count as high as possible, each saying one number at a time, but not in any order or by receiving direction from any group member. Players call out numbers when they choose. If any two players accidentally call out the same number simultaneously, they start over from one. See how high you can go!
• Mirrors – Actor’s A and B are paired up and stand across from each other. Actor A does simple movement, Actor B mirrors. Switch. The goal is to not be able to tell who’s the leader and who’s the mirror. Movements can gradually become more expansive and challenging. Eventually Actor’s A and B can “share the lead,” in which they mirror each other in a free flow. Variation: The exercise can also be done with music, or a variety of music selections to show changes of mood.
• Follow the Hand – Group divides into pairs – choosing A & B. A will ‘hypnotize’ B with their hand – B must keep their face just a few inches from A’s hand at all times – always an equal distance. A should try to manipulate B into all sorts of positions, using forgotten muscles, in order to use their body in a different way. Swap positions. Variation: Group divides into 3’s. A hypnotizes B & C using two hands which may do entirely different movements at any time.
• Bombs and Shields – Group spread out around the room. Each person chooses one other person without making their choice known; that person is their Bomb. Then choose another person – that one is their shield. The aim of the game is to keep your shield between yourself and your bomb. The facilitator should count down from 10 – 1 as the bomb is about to explode. There will be a lot of frantic movement. At the end, on the command freeze, the facilitator goes around the group asking if people managed to keep their shield between themselves and their bomb.
• What are you doing? – Participants stand in two lines. The front two in each line face each other. The first in line one begins miming an activity (i.e., skiing). The first in line two asks, “What are you doing?”. The other person continues miming their activity (skiing) but says he/she is doing something else (i.e., taking a shower), then goes to the back of his/her line. The one in line two begins miming the new activity (taking a shower) and the one who is now in the front of line one asks, “What are you doing?”. The first in line two continues his/her activity (taking a shower) but says he/she is doing something else (i.e., reading), then goes to the back of his/her line, etc. Participants may not repeat an activity that has already been mentioned and must continue the original activity while saying the new activity.

Vocal Games
• Big Sighs – Participants take in big, deep breaths and then sigh without sound. As many times as needed. Then take in big, deep breaths and sigh with sound as much as needed. Variation: Add a “hummmmmm-ahh” sound at end of the vocalized sigh. This is also often used as a Palate Cleanser.
• Relax and Stretch the Articulators – Start by sticking the tongue out, point up and down. Brace the tongue behind the front bottom teeth and push the center out. Massage the muscles of the jaw and face to further reduce tension. Stretch the neck lightly by leaning to the sides, front and back. Start making sounds quietly and slowly. Stick your tongue out and pant like a dog to open up your breath. Hum up and down the scale. Flap your lips by blowing air and producing a “BEE” or BRR” sound.
• Singing Dialogue – Two+ players agree on where, who, what to talk about. All dialogue is sung (singing must be addressed to the other player). “Good singing” is not necessary—this is an exercise in the extension of sound, to create a flow of sound between players.
• Big Face/Little Face- Stand in front of a mirror and stretch all your facial muscles. Stretch your mouth wide open, making it as big and long and wide as possible. After that switch to a small face quick, by scrunching your facial muscles and looking small and meek. Switching between the big and little face helps improve circulation in your face.
• O-E-O – Even though it’s far from boring, start this game with a good yawn. Really – have a few wide yawns to open up your mouth and throat. Then start by slowly making exaggerated ‘O’ and ‘E’ sounds. As you repeat the letters, begin to speed up until you run out of breath.
• Work The Articulators – Say the following sounds quickly from left to right. Keep good tone and make sure each sound is different. Repeat twice. MAH MAY MEE MOH MOO. Then change the beginning consonant to T, K, L, S, R, B, D, Z, etc.
• Tongue Twisters – Say these three times each.
o Six Slick Shick Super-Shavers
o Toy Boat
o Red Leather Yellow Leather
o He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts
o Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers
o You need unique New York
o (Practice over-enunciating on this one)
To sit in solemn silence in a dull dark dock
In a pestilential prison with a life-long lock
Awaiting the sensation of a short sharp shock
From a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block
• Mirroring Sound – Actors work in pairs facing each other. One player initiates and makes sounds (loud or soft, humming, shouting—variety is desirable). The other actor reflects and mirrors the sounds. When “Change” is called, roles are reversed with no stop in the flow of sounds. Variation: Try mirroring with speech. Actors agree on a topic of conversation. The initiator begins speaking, and the reflector mirrors the words and tries to speak the words at the exact same time. Switch. After a time, actors share the lead and “follow the follower,” speaking simultaneously without conscious effort.
• Voiced and Unvoiced – Repeat each line five times fast
o Unvoiced
Pa Ta Ka Pa Ta Ka Pa Ta Ka
o Voiced
Ba Da Ga Ba Da Ga Ba Da Ga Ba
• Nee-Nay-Nah – This helps you connect with any nasal qualities in your voice. A little bit of nasal quality is normal and appropriate depending on the sound. Scrunch up your nose and voice a prolonged “Nee” sound. On the next breath, start over with “Nee” and then move into “Nay” while massaging the sides of your nose. Finally, repeat one more time from “Nee” to “Nay” and then to aloud vocalized “Nah” throwing your voice to somewhere in the room.
• Diaphragm Breathing – Stand with your feet a comfortable shoulder width apart. Support the weight of your body through your hips and legs rather than locking your knees. Consciously release and relax your shoulders. If you’re holding your stomach in, let it go. Place your hands on your stomach. Breathe in through your nose to the count of five. Count slowly. As you inhale feel your diaphragm expanding down. Breathe out through your mouth to the count of five and now feel your diaphragm releasing. Do several rounds of inhale and exhale while making sure you keep your shoulders, stomach and legs relaxed.
• Hey, You There! – Call to someone outside the room really projecting and trying to be heard. Say “Hey!”, then “Hey, you!” and then “Hey, you there!”. Point of this one is to really project and practice being heard in the space.
• Open Throat – Another yawning exercise to open up your throat. While yawning say, “I am using an overly open throat”. Or “Hey Boo Boo!”. The point is to overdo it so that when you go back to “normal” your throat is more open.
• Projection – With your hand on your diaphragm and trying to fill the room with your voice, say “Lolita! Light of my life! Fire of my soul! My life, my love, my Lolita!”

Trust/Unity Games
• Knots – Everyone stands in a circle. Everyone puts their hands in the center and joins hands with two different people. The rules are that you cannot connect hands with the person beside you and you cannot connect both hands with the same person. Then the group untangles the knot WITHOUT disconnecting the hands. They may need to go over, under and around others.
• Stand Up/Balancing – Players work in partners and sit back-to-back, knees bent, arms linked at the elbow. They try to stand up, keeping arms linked and backs together. Keep the exercise nonverbal. Change partners. Variation: Players stand face-to-face, arm’s length apart. Players hold hands and then bring feet forward, so they stand toe-to-toe. Then they straighten arms and lean back while maintaining the point of balance. The bodies should be relaxed. Once achieved, players can move up and down and side to side, maintaining balance.
• Circle of Trust – The group makes five or six smaller circles, with players standing shoulder to shoulder and with feet close together. A player volunteers to start and steps into the middle of the circle, closes the eyes, and falls backward. The rest of the group catches the player and gently places him/her upright. The player in the center should relax every muscle. Variation: After the person is comfortable falling backwards, allow the group to transfer the weight whichever direction they want. The person in the middle should give all their weight to the group.
• Moving in Space – Players walk through space without bumping in to each other, constantly moving so that no part of the space is empty. Begin slowly. Focusing on others’ eyes helps to not bump in to them. Move faster and faster; make sure there are no empty spaces in the room. Director can say “freeze” or “change direction” during this movement. Variation: This game can be used as a base to explore imaginary landscapes, weather conditions, and emotional states, colors, etc. Variation: different movement qualities such as free or bound flow, quick or sustained movement, direct or indirect movements, strong or light movements using imagery to evoke this, such as glide like an eagle, dart like a rabbit, march like soldiers on a grid – only square corners etc.
• Praising – Students make a circle with one person in the middle. Everyone takes turns praising that person. Everyone must speak, except the person in the middle is not allowed to speak. After each person praises, the person in middle steps out for someone new. Everyone takes a turn in the middle.
• Blind Cars – Divide into pairs. One person stands in front of the other and closes his eyes – he is the blind car. The person behind is the driver who gives directions by touching the ‘car’s’ back with his hand; Touch left shoulder = turn left; touch right shoulder = turn right; press center of back = move forward (pressure denotes speed); no touch = stop.
• Push Not To Win – This exercise is about using all one’s strength and still not winning. During a Forum session, an actor must neither give way to the intervening spect-actor, nor overwhelm him, but help him apply his strength. Divide into pairs. Imagine a line is drawn between each pair. Pairs put their hands against one another’s shoulders and begin to push. To push your opponent and cross over the line into their territory would be to win the game – in this game, you do not want to win. Give in to your partner’s strength; support one another’s weight, sometimes pushing harder, sometimes allowing your partner to push you harder.
• Circle Sitting – Have everyone stand in a circle, really close to each other, facing inwards. Then ask everyone to make a quarter turn left. Make everyone stand even closer to each other – heels to toes. Then ask the whole group to slowly sit. If everyone is really close, they will end up sitting on one another’s knees, and the whole construction supports itself.
• Raft – Create a small space on the floor to represent a raft w/masking tape or something. Then tell the entire group they are in the middle of the ocean during a horrible hurricane and they need to all get on the raft. No one left behind. The space should be small enough to be challenging, but not so small that it is impossible for everyone to get in successfully.
• Eye Contact – Illustrate the importance of eye contact by having people in pairs stand facing each other and staring into each other’s eyes for 60 seconds. Variation: Add in touch by clasping hands while giving eye contact.
• Yarn Web – Illustrates the connectedness of us all. Stand in a circle and start with a yarn of string. One person holds the string and tosses the ball of yarn to someone else in the group either saying one thing that they appreciate about them or asking for one thing they would like to know about them. That person answers, then holding on to a piece of the string, tosses the ball of yarn to another person saying or asking something of their own. And so on. By the end, the ball of yarn ends up where it began, and you have a web of connectivity linking the group.
• Yes! – The group stands in a circle. Person A calls the name of Person B in the group. Person B acknowledges Person A by saying “Yes!”. Once Person A hears the acknowledgement, they can start walking to where Person B is standing in the circle. Person B can’t leave their spot until someone new acknowledges them, so Person B calls the name of Person C. And the game continues indefinitely.

Improv Games
• Honey Walk – Actors walk in place. The facilitator calls out different things to walk through: snow, ice, mud, leaves, jello, honey, cotton candy, etc. Really commit to it and try to move as realistically as possible as if you were really trying to walk in that substance.
• Object Story Telling – Each person pulls out an everyday object they currently have on their person (in their wallet, purse, etc.). Each person then tells a true or fictional story about that object. Variation: Individuals give an object to someone else in the group to tell a story about.
• Party Time – Put names of famous people (alive or dead) on strips of masking tape and place the names on participants foreheads. Then have the group start mingling with each other as if they are at a cocktail party. Participants should treat each other like they would that famous individual if they met them. At the same time, they should try to figure out who they are supposed to be portraying by the way people are treating them.
• Machines – Start in a circle or line. The group chooses a machine theme (a “love machine,” a “greed machine,” etc.). One at a time, players go into the playing space and perform a repetitive physical gesture and vocal gesture based on the theme. Other players then add in, one at a time, with a new sound and gesture, until everyone is part of the machine. Variation: Whoever began the machine can initiate changes in tempo and everyone must follow—the machine can get faster and louder, then slower and quieter until it breaks down and dies.
• Sound and Movement – Players stand in a circle. One person goes to another player while performing a sound a movement. The receiving person then takes on the sound and movement, moves to the center of the circle, and then allows the sound and movement to change into something new. They then take this sound and movement to a new person in the circle, and so forth.
• Seeing the Word – One player goes on stage and describes an actual experience, such as taking a trip, watching a football game, visiting someone. The player maintains focus on the event during any side-coaching (the facilitator may be saying, “Focus on color! Sounds! Weather! People! Smells! See yourself!”). As greater perception is awakened, note when the player begins to leave the word and relate to the scene. The voice will become natural, body relaxed, words will flow. Artificiality disappears.
• Gibberish Interpreter – In teams of two, one player gives a speech or lecture in Gibberish to the audience. The second player is the interpreter. The speaker pauses for the interpreter’s translations and then continues in Gibberish. Variation: The interpreter follows the follower by reflecting the speaker’s sound and meaning spontaneously in translation. Variation: The speaker reflects the interpreter by taking in the interpretation as if it accurately translates what was meant.
• Shadowing – Teams subdivide and where, who, and what are agreed upon. Team A plays the scene and Team B shadows them. The shadows make continuous comment to the actors they are shadowing. Shadows stay close to the actor. The shadows can comment on inner action if desired or simply the physical objects in the environment.
• Emotional Orchestra – The group clusters in two rows, facing the leader, who assumed the role of an orchestral conductor. Each person decides on an emotion to convey through a particular sound or word or short phrase. The conductor begins the orchestra by pointing to one or several people. At the conductor’s discretion, volume and tempo can be played with, solos and duets initiated, and the entire group can emote at once. If words are being used, the conductor can even instigate emotional dialogues.
• Autobiographical Narrative – As a warm-up, play “I am,” in which players sit in a circle and complete the statement “I am…” as fully as possible without stopping. When they pause, the next player picks it up immediately. For example, someone might say, “I am a mother, writer, therapist, friend, reader, actor, advisor, student, cousin, dancer, collector…” and then when she pauses the next player takes over. Variation: Create a monologue and focus it on a critical incident/conflict in their lives. You can help players along by asking questions such as “What is important to you? Think about your past, present, and future. What are your goals? How is the conflict resolved?
• Reunion – Two players improvise meeting one another at some designated point in the future. The setting and time are specific. The actors respond to the encounter spontaneously. After the recognition and greeting, they talk about how and what they are doing and reminisce about the drama group they were once in together. Remind players to focus on reminiscence. This game is best used at the conclusion of a process and helps give the feeling of totality and acknowledgement of changes made during the process. If used earlier the focus could be on projection in the future rather than reminiscence.
• Complete the Image – Two people shake hands and freeze. The leader asks the spect-actors what story they see. One person then comes out of that frozen picture, leaving an incomplete image. A volunteer then comes in and completes the image to make a different story. And so on.
• Story Telling – With the players in a circle, the facilitator calls out the title for a story. The players in the circle tell that story, with each player saying one word at a time as the story travels around the circle. Variation: Proceed as above, only a player tells the story up to certain point and passes it to the player to the right, who continues the story by saying “Yes, and…” adding their part until passing it again. Using “And” instead of “But” is a great way to create something new together without dismissing others.

Palate Cleansers
• Shake It Out – Exactly as it sounds. Shake any excess tension, frustration emotion out of your body – shake as much or as little of your body as you need to feel like it has all been shook out well. Time: 15 to 30 seconds.
• Re-Center – Gently roll your neck backward, forward, and then around (clockwise and anti-clockwise). Roll both shoulders forward and backward to release any nervous energy. Extend your arms and begin to open up your chest. Remember to breathe deeply from your diaphragm. With arms extended, twist your waist side to side. Do a forward bend at the waist, dropping all the way down as far as you can go. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Then slowly rise up vertebra by vertebra.
• Cover Your Crown – I don’t fully understand why this exercise is so effective, but it almost always works. When you feel ungrounded, place one hand over the crown your head. That’s it. If it helps, close your eyes to avoid distractions. Breathe. Time: 30 seconds to 1 minute.
• Feel Your Feet – Sitting or standing, place all of your awareness on the bottom of your feet. Pay attention to any sensations. Time: 30 seconds to 1 minute.
• Follow Your Breath – Close your eyes and as you inhale, trace the air as it enters your nose and goes into your lungs. On the exhale, follow the air leaving your lungs and exiting your nose or mouth. This grounding technique gets more effective with practice. The key is to observe the breath instead of forcing it with your mind. Let your body lead and your mind will follow. Time: 1 minute to 2 minutes.
• Stand Like a Tree – Stand with your feet parallel and at least shoulder’s width apart. Keep your head floating above your body, chin tucked, and spine straight. Rest your hands at your side or place them over your navel. Sink all of your body’s weight and tension into your feet (without collapsing your posture), allowing it to be absorbed into the ground. Imagine roots growing out the bottom of your feet, extending deep into the ground beneath you. Time: 1 minute to 2 minutes.
• Take a Lay Down – Lay down on the floor and take a few slow, deep breaths. Allow yourself to be aware of the sensations throughout your body. If there is any part that remains tense, accept it and keep breathing. Just allow the relaxation to move through your body in waves, allowing yourself to relax more, and more, and more deeply as you continue to take slow, deep breaths. You may want to think of gentle waves lapping at the sand, gradually washing away physical, emotional, and mental tension. Time: 5 minutes
• The Pulse – Stand in a circle and grasp hands to the people on either side of you with your left-hand palm down, right-hand palm up. Then, have someone start a “pulse” by squeezing their hand gently to the person on either side of them. The pulse then moves around the circle in whatever direction. Try to keep it flowing natural as if it is a real energy pulse moving quickly through the group.

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