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Applied Theatre Facilitator Training

Drama for Critical Thinking, Emotional Literacy and Conflict Transformation


•    Examine how dramatic techniques and strategies can be used as a teaching methodology across the curriculum and to articulate the rationale for drama integration into the curriculum
•    Demonstrate the use of drama to implement classroom management strategies and approaches to create safe learning environments
•    Design and incorporate alternative assessment strategies that focus on the application of drama-based techniques
•    Demonstrate the ability to listen to multiple viewpoints and understand the complexities of diverse perspectives and learners
•    Translate the application of drama as a learning modality for work in classrooms, schools, and the larger community

This experiential workshop is designed to support practitioners(teachers, social workers, therapists, community organizers) in developing specific applications of theatre within their practice. Participants engage in a dialogue of movement, improv theatre, rhythm and discussion about how to adapt the activities to facilitate them in the variety of settings where participants work. All techniques presented honor multiple ways of knowing and learning while putting forth an arts integrated approach to creative group work.

It is my goal that after this workshop, participants will be able to facilitate a sequence of Dramatic Activities. I’d love to hear your questions, ideas, and experiences applying these techniques in teaching, participatory development practices, community organizing, social work, and/or counseling. Please email me at:


Names – sound check – call and response

Rhythm Categories – Use categories that relate to the theme and issues. ⁃    Clothing Companies
⁃    Cities in Palestine ⁃    Singers
⁃    Plays ⁃    Dish
⁃    Authors

move like…

•    in straight lines until you’re going to hit someone and then switch directions
•    like its raining

•    like you’re being followed

•    like you’re at the beach, etc.

Connect at…

•    elbow •    ankle •    mind

Clumping = data collection = self-assessment

Form a line without talking

•    year experience teaching, training or facilitating

Group Based on…

•    type of job

•    type of music

•    number of children

Haves vs Have nots – allocating space as a metaphor for resources


•    drama experience? •    activist/advocate? •    stage freight?

Agreements discussion

•    a class or group where you felt safe to take risks

•    a class or group where you didn’t

•    what agreements for this group based on safe to take risks

Mine Field

One blindfolded person tries to walk through a swamp without stepping on any puddles (represented by sweatshirts/backpacks etc.) with the help of verbal directions from the rest of the group.

What are you doing?

Two people are “on stage” A asks B, “what are you doing?” B responds with an action, ie. “ I’m flying a kite, what are you doing?” A then has to instantly start pantomiming the action, in this case flying a kite while responding by saying they are doing something totally different, which B then has to do and so on, back and forth until their brains freeze.

Emotional Literacy Sequence

(see Emotional Literacy Sequence section at end of the is repair for more information)
•    Group Mood

•    Emotional Statues

•    Emotional Orchestra

Group Mood

One participant, the guesser, leaves the room while the rest of the participants collectively deicide on one of the 8 emotions to portray. The guesser returns and trys to identify what emotion the participants are portraying. One the guesser figures it out then the guesser chooses the next person to play the role of the guesser.

Emotional Statues

Everyone walks around the room until the leader shouts “freeze,” at which time the men come to a halt and remain frozen, like statues. Once the participants are accustomed to this process of moving and freezing, the leader calls out an emotion just before freezing the group. The men spontaneously form a posture that expresses that emotion, and remain perfectly still until the leader asks them to unfreeze and walk around again.

Emotional Orchestra with music

This activity is similar to Boal’s Orchestra and the Conductor(1992, p. 96) and Emunah’s Emotional Orchestra (1994, p.159)
A group of 3-5 participants stand in center. The group chooses one of the 8 emotions for them to portray with sound and movement only (no words in this first round). The “director” teaches the men hand signals for start, stop, louder and softer. On the director’s cue, participants express their given emotion through sound and movement.

Inner Circle/ Outer Circle (role-reversals and debrief) •    Yes-No
•    I want it – You can’t have it •    yes I can – no you can’t
•    You hurt me- I’m sorry •    Teacher – Student
•    Teacher – Parent

•    Teacher – Teacher – project a conflict •    Teacher-Principle – project a conflict

What conflicts where projected? How did you deal with them?

How can students experiences be brought into the classroom, honored and included in the curriculum?

2 approaches to group project 1)    DJing Images
2)    Costumed Characters

Complete the Image: Body Storm

*Connections to Critical literacy: Offering counter-images, re-contextualizing postures and re-appropriating body language.

With the whole group in a circle, one person makes the first image by freezing in place like a statue. A second person enters the image by placing themselves in a still position in relation to the first statue. The person who offered the initial image now comes out of the image making room for someone else to step in and complete the image.

DJing Images

This activity is similar to Boal’s Orchestra and the Conductor(1992, p. 96) and Emunah’s Emotional Orchestra (1994, p.159) The DJ conducts the group like playing a sampler.
1)     Say one words and have everyone self sculpt themselves in relation to the group to create a group image of the word.
2)     After the group holds an image for at least 5 seconds in silence, announce the next word/image.
3)     When the group strikes a poignant image ask everyone to hold that image and take a deep breathe.
⁃ Invite them to saturate their minds with the inner voice of the position their in.
⁃ Say “when I say ‘go’ you’re going to speak your sculptures inner monologue, like a free write
⁃ where your pen doesn’t leave the paper, keep your tongue speaking until I say stop…”GO”
⁃ “Stop! Deep breathe. Now take the essential from what you just

said. Just a word, sound or short phrase, when I say ‘go’ this time say that essential bit over and over”…”GO”
⁃ “Stop! Now add a short repetitive movement to go with your essential word, phrase or sound.
⁃ When I say ‘go’ do the sound and the movement”…..”GO”

⁃ “Stop! hold that position for a sec.” you put on instrumental music (no vocals on the recording) I use Hip Hop beats.
⁃ “Time to DJ this image, when I tap you do your sound and movement once then return toyour still image”
⁃ Tap people in rhythm with the beat try tapping people multiple times and play with different juxtapositions
⁃ “Who wants to try being the DJ?” remind them to DJ with the music.
⁃ Be attentive to the DJ’s composition and switch DJ’s when it makes the most sense musicallyand energetically.
Costumed Characters

1)    put on a costume

2)    find the movement of the character 3)    interact with different characters
4)    repeat

Newspaper theatre

break into groups based on: 1)    DJing Images
2)    Costumed Characters

Read article

Decide how to depict core themes dramatically

Share back scenes from groups



Shake out

each hand and foot, 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1

Spot swop

In a circle with one person in the center, people in the circle make eye contact and trade places while the person in the middle tries to steal an open place.

Pass the Clap Boal(1992, p. 92)

The facilitator turns to the person next to them and claps simultaneously. That participant turns to the person next to them and clap together in unison. The clap continues around the circle. Try to find a group rhythm with it. Once the group can do that then introduce the next level. The participant receiving the clap can initiate a second simultaneous clap which changes the direction the clap is being passed. One the group can do that, then add multiple claps. Build a beat
Participants, still in a circle, close their eyes, take a breathe and make a tone in unison. When out of breathe take another breathe then join back in. Slowly build from the tone into beat-boxing and melody singing

Lightening Round

Players stand in a circle. The Facilitator makes a sound and movement that is imitated by everyone in the group, one at a time, in quick succession. (You know “the wave” at sporting events) When the sound and movement returns to the Facilitator, the next person immediately creates a different sound and movement to be passed around the circle. This continues until everyone in the circle has had a turn to create his/her own sound and movement to send around the circle.

Lean test

1) Everyone stands spread out with room around them

2) lean as far as you can without passing your limit (forward, back, left, right)
3) lean as far as you can and keep going past your limit so you have to catch yourself(forward, back, left, right)
4) lean as far as you can without passing your limit (forward, back, left, right)

Two by Three by Bradford Boal(1992, p. 90)

1. Partners count to 3 over and over, alternating who says each number. 2. Replace “1” with a sound effect and continue the counting cycle.

3. Replace “2” the “3” with sound effects and “count” through the cycle of sounds

Panel of experts – Good bad worst

A panel of experts take questions from the audience, one gives a good answer, the next a bad answer, and the third gives the worst possible answer.

Pair Share

Each person has 2 minutes to share: FIG – Fear, Ignorance and Guilt a. What issues are the hardest for you to talk about? Why?
b. What did you notice about the way you feel participating in the activities?
Each person has 2 minutes:

Share a story with an unresolved conflict that had to do with an injustice you experienced, perpetrated, or witnessed.

Gift-Giving – Passing The Imaginary Object

Players sit or stand in a circle. The facilitator pantomimes passing an object to the person to his right. The person pantomimes receiving the object, and continues passing it around the circle. Facilitator chooses objects with sensorial qualities, for example a burning match, a ladybug, a bird, a goldfish. Players should react as if they are really holding the object.

Whole Group Share

1. Return to one big circle.

2. Think of a newspaper headline that captures the essence of the story you shared with your partner.
3. Go around the circle one at a time sharing our headlines. 4. Four people share their stories
5. Those Four people stand in front of the room and everyone else gets in line behind the person whose story they would like to see acted out.

Dramatize the stories using:

DJing Images, or costumes and props

Share Scenes back with whole group

Select a story to work with

Role-play the scene that the group selected



One word story

Standing in a circle, each person says one word at a time to create a story.

One Word Debate

In 2 groups, participants speak one word at a time to form arguments.

Mirroring • • • •

Exaggerated Mirror Distorted mirror Sexy mirror
sound and movement mirror

Dubbed Debate

Two characters in the center of the stage have a debate with gestures and moving lips but no sound. two other participants located off stage act as their dubbed voices.

Inferior-Superior-Equal Explorations Sculptures

Inner circle facing a partner in the outer circle (whose facing the inner circle) 1.    Outer sculpt inner into Inferior
2.    Gallery (outer walks in the circle observing the statues)

3.    Outer sculpt themselves in relation to the Inferior statue as the Superior
4.    Gallery (inner walks in the circle observing the statues) 5.    Relax out of the sculptures
6.    Inner partner sculpts outer as inferior

7.    Gallery (inner walks in the circle observing the statues)

8.    Inner sculpts themselves in relation to the Inferior statue as the Superior
9.    Gallery (outer walks in the circle observing the statues)

10.     Outer returns to there sculpture as inferior in relationship to Inner’s Superior statue
11.     Inner changes their statue from Superior to Authentic by making a gesture toward intimating with their partner in the outer circle whose reality they defined as inferior through their sculpting. Freeze
12.     Outer can now resculpt themselves in relation to their partner as their response to the outer’s attempt to intimate.

Artistic Reflection

After exercises people are invited to write or draw about their experiences for about 5-10 minutes. Then they have about 5 minutes to create a poem by circling words that stick out or using their drawings to write.

Share-out Discussion

Discussion about inferiority and superiority in our lives

Using Image Theatre to Stage a Scene

Interventions into the Scene using Dramatic Tools for Conflict Transformation (see more info in the Dramatic Tools for Conflict Transformation section at the end of this report)


Relax with music and reflect on what you are taking away from this workshop.


An opportunity to appreciate the contributions of fellow participants.


Emotional Literacy Sequence

Emotional Literacy is the ability to recognize feelings in self and others, name those feelings, and express them. Drama has the potential to be an engaging and effective way to support the development of Emotional Literacy. In order to use drama effectively it’s important that the activities are sequenced in a progression that is designed to make the dramatic medium of the workshop accessible to even non actors. Starting through play allows people to loosen up and find their voice in the medium. Critical thinking gets layered in as we move though the activities. The critical reflection at the end is when participants get the opportunity to integrate their experience. In this brief article I offer an entry point for using Drama to work on Emotional Literacy with a group.

Drama brings out peoples fear of public humiliation. Because Group Mood involves guessing it can bypass that fear since the focus is on the guesser not the performer. To start I ask the group “Do you ever walk into a room and sense that there is a heaviness in the air, like something happened before you got there? Or maybe you’ve entered a room and right away you feel a comfortable relaxed spirit in the air. Who feels like they are good at reading the mood of a group when they enter a room?”

I then select one of the volunteers to leave the room, and when I call them back in their instructed to identify the mood, or feeling, of the group. One the guesser leaves, the group selects one emotion to portray all together. Once the group has selected an emotion, then we all start to embody it. Since we’re all acting the same emotion at the same time with the goal of getting the guesser to guess, the performance anxiety threat is disarmed. For people who don’t know how to portray certain emotions, they can look at others in the group and copy gestures and mannerisms. Once the whole group is in the feeling I invite the guesser back into the room to identify the feeling.

In younger groups, or other groups that may need to develop their emotional vocabulary, I give everyone a sheet with feeling words personified by cartoon facial expressions.

Once the guesser correctly identifies the emotion in the room, I invite them to select the next person to play the guesser role. This cycle continues as the group moves from simple emotions (happy, sad, afraid) to more complicated emotions such as jealousy.

In group mood there was a simultaneous acting of emotions that allowed participants to experiment with different ways of expressing a variety of emotions, without being the center of attention. I hope that this has given you a starting point for using drama to support emotional literacy.

Dramatic Tools for Conflict Transformation

Double- Someone who mirrors the protagonists body language and makes statements in the first person (as if the protagonist) based on the feelings that arise in their body. Think of it as someone offering inner thoughts.
I’m doubling someone who is talking about how confident they are in the face of their conflict. While speaking loud the person is fiddling with the zipper on their hoodie. As the double I say “I’m nervous”

Role Reversal- When two people trade roles within an enactment. Often useful when parties in conflict are having trouble listening to or empathizing with the other(s). Also useful to have the protagonist answer their own questions.
Protagonist asks “Mom why does it have to be like that?”. Then I would ask the protagonist to switch roles with Mom and answer their own question, then switch back into their primary role.

Pause- To stop a scene and have everyone hold the body posture of the paused moment. Helpful when you identify a destructive behavioral pattern cycle is just beginning. In a pause you may employ any of the other interventions.

Fast Forward/ Rewind- Go back in time or ahead to the future. Every conflict has a history and every resolution has it’s consequences. Fast-forward for pre-viewing outcomes or possible consequences. Rewind for showing context and history.
Rewind is especially useful when the conflict appears to start with a violent altercation, through a rewind you may find that the conflict actually had roots in the lunch line yesterday.

Soliloquy- A poetic monologue. Can be used during a pause to make inner thoughts public and deepen understanding of where each other are coming from.
“Pause, Cindy can you give a Soliloquy” I said. “I’m trying to get him to listen right now, I’m so frustrated, I just wanna hit him and he keeps on giggling, nothings funny” Cindy stated, she appeared more centered in herself when I said ” Thank you Cindy, are you ready to resume the scene? Ready, Go!”

Multiple Endings- Replay the scene with different endings. Identify a pivotal moment in the scene while it’s enacted the first time through. Once it ends, invite a rewind back to that pivotal point and invite the characters to replay it in a different way. If the participants can’t think of any other endings then pose “what if” questions.


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Evan Hastings | |

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