Thursday, May 31, 2007

Theater games

By Stian

Theater games are often used for warming up at theater schools, but also in many other contexts. I was active in the hippie-pacifist enviroment in Sweden, and that's where a lot of this come from, we would have weekend gatherings where we would play theater-games in the evenings, practice consensus dialogue and conflict resolution (techniques I believe partly developed by the Plowshares disarmament movement to facilitate equal dialogue and constructive meetings, includes a different facilitators and different ways of facilitating the meeting).

Just as an example, a sample theater-game would be having four people in an imagined elevator on stage, each playing a character "an old lady", "a young professor" etc, and then improvising. At any time, someone from the audience can come up, tap someone on the shoulder, who then leave, and "enter" the elevator, as someone else. Thus the play goes on. To a large extent, theater-games implies improvisation, which theoretically Chinese students have a big problem with, however I have found that planned properly, it can work (like my example last week, however unplanned that was).

I have never been trained as a teacher in these, merely experienced them, and it's certainly something I want to look more into when I return "to the west", but already I think it has given me an insight into how meetings, dialogues and so on work, and how to facilitate them, groups dynamics and so on. I have been using some of this to facilitate group discussions and so on. However, I couldn't really give any specifics, since it's stuff that I have more picked up, and that jumps out at the specific moment, then theories I can describe.

But to close, I do think all these things are really relevant, and one of my plans, if I ever get the money, is to study drama, alternative pedagogy, and possibly feminist studies, and then tour the world teaching Esperanto (it is possible, I have a good friend in Holland who has been touring the world teaching Esperanto, another world language, for 16 years, using dance, music and colors, amongst others).

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