Theatre Games

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Theatre Games -

Greetings and welcome to the theatre games link on the SVSU Youth Theatre Website. The following games were used in a booklet produced by the Summer Theatre Institute for presentation at the 2002 AATE Conference in Minneapolis Minnesota. Lead presenters were Saginaw Valley State University Fine Arts Day Camp & Summer Theatre Institute Director Ric Roberts & TADA! Youth Theatre (NYC) Education Director, Peter Avery. The session was one of the highest attended of the entire conference and are pleased to be able to share these with you today! Please note that in no way do we claim to have invented any of the following games. In nearly all cases, we have tried to list the author, if known. If you do like these games, please feel free to use them. All we ask is that you give credit to the author, if known. Enjoy!

For more information about The American Alliance for Theatre & Education (AATE) visit the following web site:

First set of Games Submitted by Peter Avery

The Ultimate Being

  • The set-up: Start by asking students to talk about where we came from in terms of the cosmos. You will hear evolution, big bang, creationism, even some made-up ones (i.e. we are from bananas from the planet Jyrex). Ask them to explain -- ever so briefly. Usually the focus is on evolution. Let them know that all are good answers but you have found the truth. We did start at one central place. At first there was an egg. Have students get on their hind legs and walk around the room as eggs. There should be no talking since we know that eggs don't talk. Stop --back to neutral. Ask them what came next. Yes! The chicken did come after the egg after all. Walk around like chickens, flapping wings, squaking, etc. Stop --back to neutral. What came next? Let them guess and then tell them the Ultimate Being! Ultimate Beings walk around upright with their hands above their heads saying, "I am the Ultimate Being. I AM the Ultimate Being!" let them walk around and do so (always being polite to other creatures).

  • The game: Everyone starts as eggs. have them mill around and meet another egg. They should then battle with ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS. Whomever wins becomes a chicken while the loser remains an egg and looks for another egg to compete with. The chicken now searches out another chicken and they battle. The winner becomes an upright Ultimate Being while the loser goes back to being a chicken. Once two Ultimate Beings faceoff, the winner remains an Ultimate Being and the loser becomes a chicken.

  • The point: The game is a terrific first day game to have EVERYONE be a fool, EVERYONE take risks and EVERYONE experience winning and losing. The game teaches that their is upwards and downwards mobility and that even if you lose one battle, you might come back to win three in a row. One cannot get too cocky as an Ultimate Being and one should not get too frustrated as an egg. Just like in theater, we try not to focus on the big versus small roles--everyone has their time. It also teaches about how to lose and win gracefully but with the added zaniness to allow people to win and lose big for drama sake.

Zip Zap Zop

  • The set up: The class stands in a circle.

  • The game: The first student claps his/her hands toward any other student in the circle while making eye contact and says ""zip."" The student who was ""zipped"" then sends the clapping motion to any other student in the circle saying ""zap."" The student who was ""zapped"" then sends the clapping motion to any other student in the circle saying ""zop."" The cycle then begins again.

  • The point: The purpose of this game is to make eye contact and send a focused clapping motion and sound to the next student. Once students have mastered the basics, the speed should pick up. Encourage students to use their first impulse - take 3 or 4 seconds deciding who will be next.

What Are You Doing?

  • The set up: Students stand in two lines. The front students in each line face each other.

  • The game: The student in line one begins miming an activity (i.e., skiing). The student in line two asks, ""What are you doing?"". The other student continues miming their activity (skiing), but says he/she is doing something else (i.e., taking a shower), then goes to the back of his/her line. The student in line two begins miming the new activity (taking a shower) and the student who is now in the front of line one asks ""What are you doing?"". The student in line two continues his/her activity (taking a shower), ), but says he/she is doing something else (i.e., reading), then goes to the back of his/her line. The student in the front of line one begins miming the new activity (reading) and the student who is now in the front of line two asks ""What are you doing?"".

    The teacher serves as the judge. Three important rules: q· Students may not repeat an activity that has already been mentioned. q· Students have only a count of three to come up with the new activity. q· Students must continue the original activity while saying the new activity.

    If desired, this can be a competitive game, where students missing any of the above three requirements are ""out"" and eventually there is a winning team.

  • Example: Student one is miming reading. Student two asks, ""What are you doing?"". Student one continues miming reading, but says, ""Putting on a shirt."" Student two mimes putting on a shirt as student one goes to the back of his/her line. The student now in the front of line one asks, the student in line two ""What are you doing?"". That student continues miming putting on a shirt and says, ""I’’m combing my hair."" The student in line one begins miming that activity as the student in line two goes to the back of the line. The student now in the front of line two asks, ""What are you doing?"", etc.

Word Tennis

  • The set up: Two students face each other

  • The game: Students and are given a category (i.e., colors, rivers, states in the U.S., etc.). The students, one after the other name as many things from that category as he/she can. If a student takes more than a count of three to come up with something or repeats an item that has already been mentioned, he/she is out and replaced with another student from the class.


  • The set up: Students fill the room in random order. Props –– 1 deck of standard playing cards.

  • The game:

    1. Pass out cards Reminding all NOT TO LOOK AT THEIR OWN CARDS!!!

    2. Cards are then held up against your forehead so that everyone but you can see your card. (Remember ""Indian Poker""?)

    3. Everyone is given a situation –– 1st day of class –– Birthday Party –– and told to have a conversation where the card you hold is your status. A king or ace would be treated well no matter how they act A deuce or three would be ignored ore even treated badly.

    4. After 60 seconds –– ask all to line up in the order thy think their cards represent, low to high.

  • The point: To determine relationships not only by how you behave but by how others behave to you.

Write Your Own Play

  • The game: Each student writes two sentences on separate pieces of paper, based on a theme: (i.e. –– A forest fire, A test tomorrow, No toilet paper in the lavatory). The papers are then tossed into a hat. Each student chooses two. The leader randomly picks small groups to read the lines in sequence and assigns random blocking. The group retires for 3-5 minutes to rehearse the scene so that it makes sense. Afterwards, everyone else ""reviews"" the plays.


  • The game: Students are given separate goals: A. You are to get B to go to the Doctor for a shot B. You are to get A to go Shopping for toys You are to offer to Drive the car to one place only

  • The point: To teach that we can communicate without actual words.

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