ability to work together, is an absolute must for effective theater
games. The first thing I tell my students is that, though the
activities we are doing are often noisy, I must be able to get their
immediate attention whenever I need it. I tell them to pretend to be
noisy third graders, but that when I call ATTENTION they are to look
right at me and be completely silent.
The next cooperative skill necessary is to be in the right place at
the right time. I have three commands for students: STAGE FRONT,
SEATS, and POSITIONS. Whenever I call one of these things, they must
immediately go where they are told.
The important point here is not so much that students learn to
respond to the ATTENTION and POSITION commands, but that they gain
confidence in being able to do something theater-related. If one
adds additional skills slowly, one can avoid entirely the "I can't
do it" response that kills theater games.
The last cooperation exercise I use is the emotional symphony. I
divide the class into groups, giving each group a different sound to
make. I choose a conductor, whose job it is to coordinate the sounds
the groups make. If he points to a group, it must start making its
sound. If he raises his hand, the sound has to get louder. If he
lowers his hand, the sound is quieter. He can have all the groups
making their sounds at once, or bring them in one at a time.
Notice again the slow confidence building process. Many students
would be a bit shy if asked to quack like a duck in front of the
class. But if their whole group is quacking, it's not so hard.