Recently I set a task for my two Year 8 Drama classes to write their own drama game. As many readers of The Drama Teacher know, our subject is not the easiest to leave a class for when you are ill at home without any resources. We were exploring Theatresports™ games in class, so I thought I’d see how this activity went without any real expectations of it succeeding.
Wow! Was I impressed with the end result! In groups of three, students brainstormed the following:
- Game title
- Age appropriate group (eg. Year 3-4, or Year 7 etc)
- Aim of the game/skills to be learned
- Group size (whole class, groups of four etc)
Aims and skills included:
…which isn’t a bad list created by 14 year-old students. Then the groups of three took control and introduced their game to the class and attempted to “run” it with participants. Just like professional Drama teachers running their own drama games, not all the students games were watertight and some were definitely better than others, but on the whole this activity was a real success. Some games were so original and fun for the class, students asked for them to be played over and over again (a big compliment to fellow students).
It’s one thing for a student to get up in front of their peers for a standard presentation before seated classmates at desks, but another thing altogether to run a drama game with all the complexities of talking students around them, multiple things happening simultaneously, the need for clear and understandable instructions and lots of creativity thrown in amongst some analytical thinking as well. Watching my own students attempt this task from the corner of the classroom reminded me how complex drama teaching really is.
Granted, I have several Drama captains in leadership positions at my school who have run drama games with other students many times, but these are nearly always confident teenagers. The activity in Drama class, however, involved all students (some very shy, others quietly spoken and some who were out of their comfort zone in a compulsory subject at Year 8) attempting to run a complex and self-devised activity. As their own drama games were “happening” before them in the classroom, I observed the smiles of joy on young teenagers faces, as their own creations became a success involving their toughest audience of all – their peers – as participants, not spectators.