Knowledge is equal to the body, emotions and social connections. Some of these are games I developed myself, while others come from the Arsenal of the Theatre of the Oppressed. They start with the idea that the human being is an indivisible whole: ideas, emotions and sensations are all permanently interwoven.
There are warm-up exercises to get the energy up, there are some designed to appease and relax, others to tune awareness to another person’s body, and there are games designed to ignite critical questioning
– Ask children to stand in two lines opposite one another, each child looking directly into the eyes of the child facing them.
– Those in line A are the subjects; those in line B, are the mirrors.
– Each subject undertakes a series of movements and changes of expression, which her/his mirror must copy, right down to the smallest detail.
– The subject should not be the enemy of his/her mirror – the exercise is not a competition, nor is the idea to make sharp movements which are impossible to follow; on the contrary, the idea is to seek a perfect synchronisation of movement, so that the mirror may reproduce the subject’s gestures as exactly as possible.
– The degree of accuracy and synchronisation should be such that an outside observer would not be able to tell who was leading and who was following. All movements should be slow and each movement should follow on naturally from the last.
– It is equally important that the participants be attentive to the smallest detail, whether of bodily or facial expression.
- Show students how to do blind contour drawing. The focus of the exercise is on looking, not worrying about the finished drawing. There are two rules:
• You must look at your object the entire time and not your drawing
• You must keep your pen in contact with the page at all times
- Set up your object on the table in front of you.
- You can provide cardboard squares with a hole that can slot over the pen.
This will cover part of the paper, blocking children from looking at the drawing. Or you can just request that children do their very best not to peek!
- Pick a point on the object that your eye will start travelling from.
- Get your pen ready on the paper so that you will have enough space to work on the page.
- Explain to children it is important that they work in silence and they all start at the same time you will.
- Start drawing. Explain kids that as their eyes travel along the contours of the object their hand will move simultaneously. Hand and eyes work together as a team. Advise them that if they need to stop they should just stop the pen but remember not to lift as that would probably make them look at the page to find their point.
- Ask them to go slow so that their hand can travel at the same speed as their eyes, and also so that they really look at as much detail as possible.
- Because they are not looking at the paper or lifting their pen they will have lines that don’t exist on the object and that is ok. Things may not match up and that is ok too. Contour drawings have a questioning nature.
- Contour drawings are quick. In the beginning children might decide they are finished after a minute. Encourage students to slow down with each drawing.
- The drawing carries on for as long as the looking continues. Give a time limit and encourage students to continue until time is up. This time can be extended further with each drawing
- Repeat this exercise a few times on the same piece of paper
– Ask class to stand in a big circle facing one another.
– Ask them to count from one to ten, but only one person must say a number at a time. The group can only communicate with one another through eye contact.
– If two people say one number at the same time they must start again at one.
– This can take a long time.
- Ask children to stand up and make a circle around you.
- Instruct students to move slowly in the direction you want, ask them: how would you move if you were a … (walrus, monkey, washing machine, caterpillar, monster truck, if you had no bones, feet made of magnets, if you had a secret power, etc.)
- Make a list of public environments on pieces of paper, for example a supermarket, an airport, a school, a cafe, a swimming pool. Fold these up and put in a bowl.
– Split the children into groups of 4/5 and let each group select a piece of paper.
– They should spread out across the room and take a few minutes to come up with the kinds of sounds they would fi nd in this place, they should practice how to make these sounds with their bodies and decide a sequence to perform them to the entire class.
– The groups should take turns performing these soundscapes to the rest of the class, groups get points for guessing correctly.
- Make an ‘elastic circle’: ask children to join hands to form a ring and then move apart until only their fingers are touching, while their bodies continue
to move as far away as possible. After a few moments, ask them to do the opposite and cluster together in the middle, trying to occupy as little space
- Make a circle again, holding hands. The children must not change their grip or loosen it for the duration of the entire exercise. One child starts to move forward, pulling her/his neighbours after him/her (always slowly, without violence, with a light touch) and they travel over or under the hands of the children opposite, as if tying a knot.
- Then a second child does the same, then another, then two or three at a time, over or under, till everyone has made all the ‘knots’ possible, and
every-one is so tangled that no one can move any more.
- Now, very slowly and without violence, and above all, in silence, without words, and still without unlinking hands, everyone tries to untangle the chain and get back to their original positions– which is sometimes achieved.
For this activity all children sit in a semi-circle on the fl oor in front of a table, six chairs and a bottle. These are arranged in a line, in no particular order. First of all, ask children to come up one at a time and arrange the objects to make one chair become the most powerful object, in relation to the other chairs, the table and the bottle. Any of the objects can be moved or placed on top of each other, or on their sides, or whatever, but none of the objects can be removed altogether from the space.
The group will run through a great number of variations in the arrangement. Then, when a suitable arrangement has been arrived at, an arrangement in which, by group consensus, one chair is clearly the most powerful object, a participant is asked to enter the space and move the bottle to the most powerful position.
– This can be repeated a number of times, depending on how many ideas the group has.
– Finally, one child is invited to enter and take up the most powerful position, without moving anything.
– Encourage children to agree, disagree and to explain why.
– Write the names of easily identifiable objects that are commonly found at home, in schools or in the workplace, on pieces of paper eg: a toaster, a drill, an umbrella, a packet of chips, a table and chairs, etc.... fold these up and place them in a bowl.
– Divide children into groups of four ask them to pick an object from the bowl.
– Ask them to split up across the room and fi gure out together how to “embody” this object/ or act it out without words.
– Invite groups to take turns to “perform” this object to the class, while the rest guess what they could be.
- Ask each child to take a pencil or pastel and an empty sheet of paper (the larger the better.)
- Instruct them to draw a line anywhere on the page. Ask them to have a look at this mark, without letting go of their pencil, and then close their eyes.
- Invite them to continue this line to describe the following story:
imagine at the tip of your pencil someone sitting on a tiny bicycle…the bicycle is rolling along on a road, it is lovely and smooth, the sun is shining, …it starts to get bumpy, so much gravel…little holes… some briars…The bike bumps along, you come to a hill, you start to toll down, the hill is too steep…oh my gosh! The bike is going too fast… oh no, the brakes are not working… a fl y has fl own into the person’s eye, ewwwww… the little buggy’s legs won’t come out… the bicycle crashes into a tree! Smash! You tumble off the bike into a river! The current is too strong, you managed to get over the watery edge but now you are sooo light, a gust of wind takes you, blowing away,
into the wind, then into a cloud.