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close this bookCreative Training - A User's Guide (IIRR, 1998)
View the document(introduction...)
Open this folder and view contentsHow was this user's guide to creative training produced?
View the documentIt came one night...
Open this folder and view contentsBasic facilitation skills
Open this folder and view contentsTraining needs assessment
View the documentWII-FM (what's in it for me?)
Open this folder and view contentsEvaluation techniques
Open this folder and view contentsEnergizers
View the documentForming groups
View the documentCreative congratulations
View the documentRelaxers
Open this folder and view contentsMood setting exercises
Open this folder and view contentsLectures
View the documentMind mapping
View the documentCreative use of overhead projectors
View the documentSlide/photo presentations
View the documentVisual spicers
View the documentPosters as problem-posing materials
Open this folder and view contentsDrawing and chalk talk
Open this folder and view contentsSelf-expression through pictures
View the documentBody language
View the documentVisual gestural communication
View the documentShadow plays
View the documentEasy puppets
View the documentBasic theater skills
View the documentRole play
View the documentAnimated comics role play activity
View the documentFolkstorytelling: Stories come alive!
View the documentOral testimonies
View the documentLifeline
View the documentTimelines
View the documentMap-making
Open this folder and view contentsMaking and using case studies
View the documentAction research
Open this folder and view contentsField trips
Open this folder and view contentsPhysical activities as educational tools
Open this folder and view contentsGames
View the documentContact organizations
View the documentWorkshop participants
View the documentWorkshop production staff

Basic theater skills

· 2 hours
· 20-30 participants

Theater is a common method used in training activities. It comes in different forms: role play and tableau(x) or body sculpture. It is a very effective method in education especially when dealing with people's experiences. Theater can depict life as it is, making the learning process more realistic and experiential.



1. To help participants release dormant personal creativity and artistic abilities.

2. To help them relate constructively and cooperatively with each other, to forge or consolidate teamwork and community spirit.

3. To help the participants acquire basic skills in theater arts.

Suggested approach

Give me a shape

Individual shapes

1. Ask the participants to imagine any part of their body as a pencil.

2. Ask them to use this point (part of the body) to write different letters of the alphabet. Start with using simple parts then progress to less commonly used parts of the body - e.g., finger, wrist, elbow, shoulder, toe, heel, knee, buttocks, hips, chest, chin, lips, tongue, head and eyes.

Group shape

1. Divide the participants into groups with five members each.

2. Name an object or shape and ask one group to form the object in 10 seconds.

3. Ask them to freeze or hold their position.

4. Ask other groups to watch and comment on how to make the shape clearer.

5. Name another object and ask another group to form that object

6. Ask the remaining groups to select the best group shape, based on imagination, detail and clarity of form or shape.


Complex group shape

1. Divide the participants into four groups.

2. Proceed as in the earlier exercise but this time, give shapes that are more complex. (e.g., bowl of boiling noodles, a carabao that walks and makes sounds)

3. Encourage the groups to produce sounds appropriate for the shape created.


Give me shape and space

Divide the participants into three groups. Proceed as in the complex group shape exercise, but this time, tell the groups that they are to create a suggestion of space using the body, and that they may use their bodies as elements of whatever space they create. Give them 10 seconds to do the task. Examples:

· inside a can of sardines; and
· inside a jeepney full of passengers



Tableau is a form of body sculpture where the performers depict a situation not by speaking lines or making body movements, but by posing (i.e., remaining motionless) to express the action. Tableaux are also known as "people sculptures".

1. Prepare some pictures that depict action. (They may be taken from a newspaper.)

2. Divide the participants into three groups.

3. Give each group a scene to imitate. Prior to this, instruct them that they are to create a story out of the picture shown, and that they will have to show the beginning and middle of the story before making a tableau of the end.

4. Let each group demonstrate their scene.

5. Ask other groups to comment on what the performers have shown.

Chain story

1. Ask each participants to write one or two lines of speech on a sheet of paper from an imagined dialogue.

2. Mix up the written lines and ask each participant to pick a line and memorize it.

3. Ask the whole group to make a story out of the lines they have, by each participant saying their line at what seems to be an appropriate moment. The last scene should be presented as a tableau.

Basic theater skills

Guide questions to ask after the chain story.

1. What were the characters portrayed?

2. What made each character in the tableau recognizable and credible? What made it distinct from the others?

3. Did the speaking lines help in creating distinctions? Did they also help in giving character or story to the tableau(x)?



Tableaux were used in a Theater Arts training for grassroots leaders in La Union. The leaders staged a production during their graduation, and presented their output in the form of a chain story activity.

How to do street theater

Street theater is a very powerful education tool. It has its roots in story telling - an important tradition in many parts of the world. Street theater using mime, song and dance are all extensions of this. They are forms of communication that are commonly understood. It can be a comfortable method of communication, both transmitting clear messages in a non-patronizing, humorous way and also allowing awareness and understanding through discussion.


Street theater shows have been used to communicate simple messages. These could be performed anywhere - to small groups at training sessions or to large crowds at markets and schools. Street theater could grab people's attention and hold it where other methods would fail.

Development of shows

1. Research the subject fully and make sure that everyone involved with the show understands the subject. Organize an information session on your chosen topic. This will enable you to find out about experiences vital to your show and note any characteristics for realistic performance.

2. Collect teaching materials of different kinds on the topic, e.g., written or visual and analyze the messages and method of presentation.

3. Contact any other groups performing dramas, songs, and dances on this topic and learn from their experiences.

4. Identify the most important messages of the chosen topic for different audiences, e.g., market, school, training session.

5. Brainstorm to gather ideas about how the message can be communicated, the plot line, characters, etc. From this list, the best ideas can be chosen and developed.


6. Make up plots to convey the agreed messages for dramas bearing in mind the limitations of the street theater medium, i.e., time, visibility, audibility, number of actors, etc.

7. Distribute roles and act out plays.

8. Make up songs to convey agreed upon messages using popular local songs.

9. Decide on the questions for the end of each show and select a questioner/announcer.

10. Make lists of necessary props and costumes for each scene and collect them.

11. Practice the show to make sure they run smoothly. Do not overpractice, as spontaneity will be lost. Keep the show's length to a maximum of 30 minutes.

12. Pre-test shows with office staff, or other friendly audiences. Take a video if possible. Amend the show according to comments from audience and experiences while performing.

Administrative preparations for touring

1. Find out which days the markets are open. Find out the opening times of local schools and health clinics. Work out an itinerary based on this information.

2. Get permission to perform from the authorities. Notify the police posts where performances are to be held.

3. Notify schools and clinics in advance of the date, time and nature of the performance. Make use of newsletters, local newspapers, local radio and public announcements to advertise the show.

4. Fill in posters and handouts with relevant details for distribution at markets. Prepare information sheets and copies of songs for schools. Make adequate copies of evaluation sheets and result forms.

5. Check that repairs to materials (tent or backdrop, carrying bags and musical instruments, etc.) have been carried out.

6. Estimate expenditure for tour, organize float and a record sheet for expenses.

Backdrops, tents and performing booths

If shows are performed in one place or indoors, a tent is not essential. A piece of rope stretched between two trees, pillars, etc., with a sheet suspended from it will provide an adequate changing room for such situations, and a place to stand behind while waiting to appear.

Backdrops can be plain in color or used to indicate a location. Trees or other objects can be stuck on with Velcro (or similar) and removed during performance to change scenes.


The element of surprise is a feature of a good street theater. The characters should avoid lingering around the performance area when they are not performing as this might distract the audience.

Preparations at location

1. Visit the market area, school, clinic, etc. Decide on the best place for the performance (higher or lower than where the crowd will gather). Decide on best timing for shows.

2. Visit the police post and tell them when the market show will be held. Ask for assistance with crowd control.

3. Arrive at the site shortly before the time of the first performance. Rope off the performance area and erect a tent or backdrop quickly. Avoid a long gap between putting up the backdrop and starting performance.

4. Do a voice test. How loud must voices be to be heard?

5. Pin up lists of props/costumes at the back of the backdrop. Each actor should be responsible for what they need and put their materials in a particular place behind the backdrop.


Public performance

1. Invite police, teachers and clinic staff to help seat the crowd for the performance.

2. Play music and juggle while the crowd gathers and is seated.

3. Announce the start of the performance and invite for applause.

4. While performing, wait for crowd laughter to die down before continuing speech. Don't rush the performance.

5. Speak loudly and slowly.

6. Sing the songs outside the tent or backdrop.

7. When questioning the audience after the show, repeat correct answers and ask for applause for each correct response.

8. At the end, thank the crowd and ask them to disperse.


Evaluation techniques

Market place evaluations

1. One actor should ask short 'yes/no' questions to the crowd at the end of each show. (Questions could be more specific if it is a small audience known to the actors.)

2. Actors should join the crowd to catch spectators before they disperse. They should record answers on evaluation sheets. They should ask as wide a variety of people as possible (e.g., all ages and both sexes).

3. The results of evaluation should be analyzed as soon as possible after each performance so that changes to the show can be made accordingly, e.g., if certain messages are not being understood, amend the drama to make them clear.

4. It may not be necessary to conduct written evaluations of each show throughout a tour. However, it is essential to do so at the start and useful from time to time thereafter as a reminder to the performers that their main purpose is to communicate the selected messages and not just to draw large crowds.

Suggestions for lively street theater



· Men dressed as women

· Long gaps between scenes

· Comic village stereotypes,

· Fast speech

e.g., drunkards, bazaar 'lads', traditional healers, dishonest merchants, etc.

· Exaggerated characterizations

· More than one person speaking at a time

· Villain/hero conflicts

· Scenes involving sitting or lying down

· Macabre incidents

· Long speeches or dialogues without action

· Dance and song

· One actor playing different roles

· Actors asking audience simple questions

· Complicated plots and detailed scripts

· A few simple messages and repetition of these

· Audience participation

· Spontaneous and lively, with minimum characters


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