Participants in this improvisation game will use pictures as inspiration in creating characters, and interact with others as their characters.
Game Type: Improvisation
Age Range: 9+
Number of Participants: 2-20
Materials: Pictures of people, as many as Participants (see Notes)
Explanation: Participants will use pictures as inspiration in creating characters, and interact with others as their characters. Later, they will try to determine which picture the other participants used for their inspiration after interacting with them.
How to Play:
- Have participants spread themselves out in the room, so that each person has enough space to think without distractions.
- Pass out a picture to each participant, explaining, “Don’t let anyone else, even me, see your picture.”
- Tell participants: “You have three minutes to look at the person in your picture and become that person. Decide what kind of personality he or she has, how old the person is, what kind of life he or she leads, etc. Use the picture to help you decide – are there details about the person’s clothes, surroundings, face that provide clues?”
- Suggest that participants try to create a “story” for their character, as well as a voice, mannerisms, attitude.
- Explain that when the three minutes are up, each participant will hand in the picture and transform into the character she’s developed. Then, all of the characters will attend a party.
- The participants should not talk to one another before the three minutes are up.
- At the party, the participants need to talk to the other characters, attempting to remember things about the other characters while maintaining their own character.
- The party lasts five to ten minutes, depending on the number of participants.
- At the end of this time, the leader asks everyone to discard their characters and become themselves.
Show the participants the pictures that were used as inspiration, and ask the group to identify whose character matches with the picture. (NOTE: Don’t tell the participants that this will happen ahead of time. The temptation of “fooling” everyone is too great to resist for some students, and they might make their character unlike their picture if they know there will be guessing.)
How did the participants communicate their characters to each other?
Journaling: The participants can provide the details and backstory they developed for their characters, reflect on their reactions to the pictures, and share observations about the other participants’ portrayal of their characters.
Preparation Notes: If you can find a box of old photographs at a yard sale or flea market, this is only one of many ways you can use it in your theatre classroom. You can also cut pictures out of magazines or print them from online sources, and then paste them onto oak tag or posterboard for stability. Try to get a good assortment of people – all ages, ethnicities, levels of attractiveness. Avoid famous faces. The more interesting the setting and the appearance of the person, the more there is for the participants to use for inspiration. Remember, there are no wrong answers – but the participants should be able to answer “why” questions about the character and picture.
Bringing in pictures of “interesting characters” can be a class assignment, saving you the time of finding, cutting, and pasting the pictures.