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6 June 2022

Top drama games to play with your class

Students and teacher stand in a circle

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Let's face it: playing theatre games is one of the most fun parts of drama class. They're the perfect way to shake off the cobwebs of a morning spent sitting down at a desk, as well as uniting both students who are perhaps a little more hesitant and those who love drama class.

There’s also more to a great drama game than just having fun – these activities are an ideal way to start building key theatrical and 21st-century skills, including creativity, collaboration, focus, and much more.

At Digital Theatre+, we’re lucky to be surrounded by fantastic colleagues, many of whom come from theatrical backgrounds – whether that be educationally or as a former drama or theatre teacher themselves. For this blog post, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite drama games to share with you; we hope you find them as entertaining and beneficial as we have.

Alesha Tatum-HoweFor Developing Focus: Look Down, Look Up
Alesha Tatum-Howe, Head of Theatre

This is a fun and energising game to help your class increase their focus, concentration and awareness.

How to play: 

  1. Have your students stand in a circle facing each other. 
  2. When you say ‘look down’, all students bow their heads and look down.
  3. When you say ‘look up’, all students must lift their heads and look directly at another student – no looking at the floor or over anyone’s head. 
  4. If two students make eye contact, both students must ‘scream’ and have a quick, dramatic death where they fall to the ground. They then stay sitting while the game finishes. You can make the circle smaller as students are removed from the game.
  5. Repeat look down, look up until only two students remain – these are the winners!

Halee BandtFor Building Ensemble: The Ball Game
Halee Bandt, Higher Education Sales Manager

This game is great for building a sense of ensemble, working on soft-focus skills, and practising being truly in the moment. While there’s technically no minimum number of participants, the game works best in groups of six or more participants.

Materials: 2-5 balls of varying types and sizes (tennis balls, juggling balls, volleyballs, etc.)

How to play: 

  1. Have your students stand in a circle facing inward, with at least an arm’s length distance between them. 
  2. Start with one ball; this could be any type of ball, but starting with something soccer or volleyball-sized might be best.
  3. To begin, the person with the ball makes eye contact with anyone else in the circle. Once the eye contact has been met, they throw the ball and the recipient catches it. This continues on.
  4. Once you feel the group has gotten in a good ‘flow’ of tossing the ball around the group, hand another ball to anyone in the circle. This ball now enters the game and is simultaneously thrown across the space. Remind the group to make eye contact and keep up their previously established pace.

You can keep adding balls until you feel the group is maxed out. Likely some hijinks will happen with a ball getting thrown out of the ring; encourage the group to keep soft focus and listen to the physical cues they are receiving from the group.

Matt ClarkeFor Improvisation: Do You Remember?
Matt Clarke, Sales Executive 

Teach your students the all-important improvisation rule of ‘yes, and’ with this game of blocking, which allows them to see the different impacts of saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

How to play:

  1. In pairs, have students start an incredibly boring scene of ‘blocking’. They should ask each other questions beginning with ‘Do you remember…’ but whatever one student asks, the other replies ‘no’. For example, ‘Do you remember when we ate that pie?’ ‘No.’
  2. Continue with the blocking for a minute or so, until one student chooses to say ‘yes’ to a question, kicking off the ‘yes, and-ing’ section of the game.
  3. Once the ‘yes’ has been said, the two students ‘yes, and’ each other, adding more and more elements to the story, continually raising the energy until one of them ends the scene saying ‘That was really fun’.
  4. They can then resume the boring ‘blocking’ element of the game, and continue switching between the two.

Each of the two elements can be played once or multiple times, and you can also experiment by swapping pairs around or trying the game with more than two players.

Spencer RustFor Increasing Concentration: HA!
Spencer Rust, Senior Publishing Executive

The aim of this energetic warm-up game is to increase concentration, dial up the energy levels in the room and develop eye contact.

How to play:

  1. Get your class into a circle with plenty of space between them. 
  2. The game begins when the first person passes a 'HA!' by raising their arms above their head with their hands clasped, locking eyes with someone across the circle, and shouting 'HA!', while bringing their arms down to point at the person.
  3. The person they made eye contact with should receive the ‘HA!’ by doing the same in reverse. Begin by doing this as fast as possible (in a consistent rhythm).

Want to add an extra difficulty level? Ask the people on either side of someone who has just received the 'HA!' to raise their arms above their head with their hands together before bringing them down towards them, shouting 'HA!' at the same time. This shouldn't interrupt anyone else's calls, but be an extra beat between the sending and receiving of a 'HA!'. 

You can decide if you want to make this a competitive game or not by asking people to sit out if they break the rhythm, fail to make clear eye contact or hesitate during the game.

Alesha Tatum-HoweFor Collaboration Skills: Human Knot 
Alesha Tatum-Howe, Head of Theatre

The ‘human knot’ is another brilliant game for focus, awareness and concentration, while also building ensemble and developing your students’ collaboration skills.

How to play: 

  1. Have your students stand shoulder to shoulder in a circle.
  2. Ask everyone to reach out their right arm towards the center of the circle and take the right hand of another person across the circle. Make sure they do not take the hand of the person standing next to them.
  3. Repeat the process with the left arm/hand.
  4. Now that everyone is in a knot, direct the group to untangle themselves without breaking the chain of hands. 

Variation: Have your students try to untangle themselves without speaking.

Kat WoollettFor Building Energy: Splat!
Kat Woollett, Campaigns Marketing Manager

This game is a fantastic warm-up activity to get energy levels up. The game will also get students thinking quickly and increase their concentration! 

How to play: 

  1. Form a circle with one player in the middle. This person is the ‘Splatter’. 
  2. The Splatter randomly points to someone in the circle and yells ‘Splat!’
  3. The player who the Splatter pointed at must instantly duck down to avoid the ‘Splat!’, while the two players on either side of the player who ducked must turn and point to each other and yell ‘Splat!’
  4. The slowest player to splat the other must sit down, and then the player who ducked can stand again. 
  5. The game continues until you have a winner, who will then swap with the current Splatter to become the new one.

You can vary the game by; 

  • Having the person who loses at step 3 swap with the middle Splatter for a constant revolving game. 
  • Have new words for ‘Splat!’ each round to make things more tricky and test memory. 
  • Have the person who loses at step 3 perform a task in order to stay in the circle.

Laurel BibbyFor Developing Creativity: Taxi
Laurel Bibby, Creative Marketing Executive

This is a really fun improvisational game to establish a playful and imaginative environment in your drama class. It’s great for building ensemble skills, too.

Materials: Four chairs arranged in the layout of a car, with two in front and two behind. Assign one of the two front chairs as the ‘driver’s seat’.

How to play:

  1. Split your class into two groups, with one group lining up down the side of the room. The first four players in the line should each take a seat in the ‘taxi’, while the other half of the class sit down in front of the chairs – this is your audience.
  2. The student in the driver’s seat starts the game with a single sentence that establishes the scene. Encourage your students to use their creativity here – is the group in a car, or is it actually a spaceship? Are they driving to school in the morning or have we caught them in the middle of a police chase? The possibilities are endless, and the more ridiculous scenarios often make for more fun.
  3. Once the driver has started the game, the rest of the group should immediately jump on board with the scene the driver has established – this is a great way to introduce and practice the “yes, and…” rule.
  4. Allow the scene to run for a minute or so, before shouting ‘switch!’. At this point, one of the students in the back of the car should stand up and move to the back of the line down the side of the room, while the other three students move to the next seat in the car, leaving the driver’s seat free for the student waiting at the front of the line.
  5. Continue playing until every student has had a turn in the driver’s seat, then switch the two groups of students so they all get a chance to both play and act as audience.

Matt ClarkeFor Exploring Range: Police Interrogation Flip
Matt Clarke, Sales Executive

This improvisation-based game is a great way for students to practice jumping into different characters and exploring range. 

How to play:

  1. Put your class into pairs, where one student takes the role of ‘interrogator’ while the other takes the role of ‘suspect’.
  2. Have each pair begin an improvised scene, where the suspect is being questioned by the interrogator. Encourage them to be purposeful about how they choose to characterise their role – is the interrogator playing good cop or bad cop? Is the suspect tough or a coward?
  3. After a minute or so, shout out ‘flip!’ to have each pair flip their roles. Each student must mirror the character that their partner chose to start with and continue the scene.
  4. Once the roles have been flipped, you can either flip again and have them choose new versions of their characters, or swap the pairs around so students get a chance to play with different members of the class.

For more fun drama ideas and activities
, plus hundreds more teaching materials and high-quality theatre productions, get in touch with a member of our team today.