Drama Game: Page to stage

David Farmer
Thursday, December 1, 2022

David Farmer outlines a drama game where a director creates a stage picture from a book or a play, and the actors bring it to life through improvisation.


Age: 10 to adult

Players: Small groups

Time: 15 – 30 minutes

Skills: Directing, Devising, Improvisation

This exercise is good practice for directing, once students are familiar with making freeze-frames or still images. It can be applied to a favourite book, play or movie – or even one being studied by the group.

Standing in a circle, demonstrate the activity with the whole group first. Ask if anyone would like to be a director for a few minutes. The chosen person should think of a moment from a book or play that they would like to bring to life. If appropriate, they can quickly set up the scene with simple props, such as chairs and tables. The director explains what the story is and starts to place characters in the scene by choosing people from the group. The director tells participants where to go, what position they should be in and a sentence or two about their character. Each person makes a still image in the shape of the character. When the director is happy with the stage picture it can be brought to life through improvisation (for just a few moments) with a clap of the hands.

It isn't necessary for the participants to know the book or play – it's up to the director to give clear explanations so that they have enough to go on. The actors can ask questions about their character if needed. Once the short improvisation has been shown, you can ask the audience if the scene was clear and give any necessary pointers about staging.

The exercise provides a quick way of setting up a scene and generating ideas. Once you have demonstrated the activity the class can be divided into groups. You can either nominate a director in each group or if there is time, each person can have a go at directing their own group. Afterwards the stage pictures and improvisations can be shown and discussed.