Celebrity Theatre Heads

Here’s a cool drama game for students of any level (actually it can be used for any subject in school). Basically, it is Celebrity Heads …. theatre style.

Instructions (updated 5 August 2009)

  1. Place three students on chairs in front of the classroom whiteboard, with their backs to the board and the rest of the class looking at them
  2. Write relevant drama terms, concepts or people on the whiteboard behind each of the student’s heads – one behind each student – appropriate to the year level, course, topic studied etc
  3. In the traditional game of Celebrity Heads, the aim of the game is for the students on the chairs to take it in turns to guess which celebrity they are, but in this version, he/she may not necessarily be a celebrity (theatre person), but anything to do with the drama course being studied (teacher discretion)
  4. As the students on the chairs try to guess who or what they, the rest of the class has to know their theory, terms, concepts etc as well, in order for the game to work
  5. Students on the chairs ask the class questions one by one, with class members only answering with “yes” or “no” responses, until each student on the chairs either gives up or guesses correctly
  6. If a student gets a “yes” response from the class, they get to ask another question and “no” responses result in the turn being given over to the student on the chair next to him/her
  7. Because the boundaries for this version of the game are broader than simply being a celebrity, you may wish to set up the rules before beginning, eg., the first question asked by a student on the chair may be something like “Am I a drama person, concept or term?”, after which they will have immediately narrowed their focus for future questions.

For example, with my juniors, I may put on the cards:

  • tension
  • gesture
  • soap opera
  • improvisation
  • focus
  • movement
  • mood

For my seniors, the cards will understandably be more sophisticated, like:

  • Jerzy Grotowski
  • alienation effect
  • Theatre of Cruelty
  • Expressionism
  • (stage) presence
  • articulation

Update: 5 August 2009

I just played this with my Year 11 Drama class today, immediately following three straight weeks of theory about various theatre styles and practitioners. We refined the boundaries and rules of the game as we went along, until we got it just right for our purposes. Here are some examples from the session…..

We agreed on three categories for our Celebrity Theatre Heads game (which we would be best renaming to just Theatre Heads, maybe?), that suited our purposes for where we were in our course (teachers should adapt this to their own indivivdual needs):

Theatre….

  • person or event
  • concept or convention
  • place name or title

The following were examples written above students heads on the whitebaord for students to guess in our session today:

  • Epic Theatre (title)
  • objects/props being used as symbols (Grotowski’s Poor Theatre – convention)
  • Berliner Ensemble (Brecht’s theatre company – title)
  • assaulting the audience’s senses (Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty – convention)
  • historification (Epic Theatre playwriting technique – concept or convention)
  • narration (Epic Theatre – convention)
  • Laboratory Theatre (Grotowski – title)
  • fragmentary costume (Epic Theatre – convention)
  • use of placards and signs (Epic Theatre – convention)

It was, unquestionably, one of the best lessons of the academic year! Even students who didn’t like theory were excited, as it was an adaptation of a fun game most people had played before.

When I asked students to offer some feedback at the end of the session, everyone agreed it was a great method of consolidating the theory they had read about and written notes on in recent weeks. Several students said they will probably be visualising this game in their head when they recall knowledge for their Drama examination later in the year.

This session was no fluke. I’m playing it again with my Year 11 class and with my Year 12 Drama class, as well. It could be a great game for teachers to play at the end of each topic and even for exam preparation, perhaps.

I’d love to hear stories from other Drama/Theatre teachers reading this blog who have given this game a go. Did it work wonders for you, too?

Best of all … everyone was engaged in their learning and we all had a heap of fun in the process. One can’t ask for any more than that, hey?

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1 Response

  1. Louise says:

    Thanks so much, this page is absolutely, u wudnt hav a page purely on artaud would u? cos that would be awsum

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