5 Drama Games that encourage an ensemble and group mindset

Getting students to work as an ensemble can be tough. Some students find it hard to stay focused and work within a group and others find it hard not to stand out and be the star. When creating performance work, creating drama or working for a team it is important for students to know that their role, no matter how large or small, is as important as everyone else in the group.

These five games all focus on getting students warmed up whilst working on performance focus and the concept of the ensemble.

Jump and Clap

Focus of game – physical warm up, performance focus and ensemble

Time – 3 to 10 minutes

Group Size – Whole Class

Age Range – 7 to 14

The activity starts with the students walking around the space, balancing the space, isolated and alone. Leader delivers instructions that the students complete.

  • Clap – everyone clasps
  • Floor – everyone touches the floor
  • Sky – everyone reaches for the sky
  • Jump – everyone jumps
  • Stop and go – an obvious instruction.

Begin to swap the tasks around to stop becomes go and go becomes stop etc… This means the students have to concentrate and focus on what they’re doing. A negative to that exercise is that it tends to become quite comedic and silly as people get caught out. This isn’t a problem as the leader can stop that from happening by ask the students to focus on what they’re doing and work as an ensemble.

Survivor and Sacrifice

Focus of game – physical warm up, performance focus and ensemble

Time – 3 to 10 minutes

Group Size – Whole Class

Age Range – 11 to 18

Play Jump and Clap but add the next two additions to change the nature of the activity from a simple warm up game to an opportunity to learn about performance.

  • Survivor – everyone falls to the floor except one person who stands, we all look at them – then add the line from the play looking at everyone in the room in the eye – keep going with the line until it sounds right.
  • Sacrifice – one person sits and everyone else stays standing – really stare at the person – bring out the tension of that point of focus.

The next stage of the exercise turn it into a performance and use the survivor game to talk about eye contact, tension, story telling and

Andy’s Coming!

Focus of game – physical warm up, performance focus and ensemble

Time – 3 to 10 minutes

Group Size – Whole Class

Age Range – 7 to 14

Students begin walking around the space, balancing the space, isolated and alone. Leader delivers instructions that the students complete.

  • Clear the space – everyone runs to the nearest wall to them and press against it as hard as possible.
  • Come together – everyone runs into the centre of the room and take up the smallest amount of space possible.
  • Model Pose – strike a pose like a model from a catalogue or website
  • Model Walk – walk around the space as if you were on the cat walk
  • Hide – pretend to hide in the space without actually hiding (holding eyes over face, hiding behind someone else)
  • Slow-Motion – walk in slow motion, or walk at varying different speeds
  • Andy’s coming! – drop to the floor and lie down as quick as you can.

Some students can get over-excited though and although there is the potential for it to be a competition, the best value in the game remains in keeping it as a focused whole group activity.

Leading Body Part

Focus of game – physical warm up, performance focus and ensemble

Time – 10 to 20 minutes

Group Size – Whole Class

Age Range – 7 to 14

Students begin walking around the space, balancing the space, isolated and alone. Leader delivers instructions that the students complete.

  • Walk around with the top of your head leading and your eye contact on the floor.
  • Walk around with your forehead leading and your eye contact slightly above the horizon.
  • Walk around with your nose leading and your eye contact directly ahead.
  • Walk around with your chin leading and your eye contact looking up.
  • Walk around with your chest leading and your eye contact directly ahead.
  • Walk around with your stomach leading and your eye contact moving around.
  • Walk around with your knees leading and your eye contact looking up.
  • Walk around with your toes leading and your eye contact directly ahead.

Ask the students to complete the activity the first time on their own. Ask the students to reflect on;

  • how it feels to walk like that
  • what emotions they could connect with that way of walking
  • what characters would move like that.

Ask the students to complete the activity a second time. This time ask them to interact with others around them, if the character they are forming for each movement allows that.

This activity can be extended further by reflecting on the movement, eye contact and interactions. These reflections can be used as a starting point for improvisation and devised work.

At the same time

Focus of game – physical warm up, performance focus and ensemble

Time – 3 to 10 minutes

Group Size – Whole Class

Age Range – 7 to 14

Students begin walking around the space, balancing the space, isolated and alone. Leader delivers instructions that the students complete.

  • Everyone stop at the same time
  • Everyone sit at the same time
  • Everyone touch their nose at the same time
  • Everyone stand at the same time
  • Everyone reach up at the same time
  • Everyone clap at the same time
  • Everyone start moving at the same time

The whole point here is that the students are working as an ensemble. Everyone does everything at the same time but without prompting. Instead students have to use eye-contact, a slow pace and spatial awareness to complete the tasks at the same time. Allow for some minor variation in time, but push the students to try their hardest to complete the tasks as one.

I hope that you find a way of using these Drama games into your sessions and lessons. I’d love to know how you have found them, how you’ve adapted them or any similar games you play. Please feel free to comment in the comments section below.

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