One-off Workshop: Picking up teams

David Porter
Tuesday, September 1, 2020

For non-sporty teens and those who never make it into fashionable, in-crowd groups, the picking up of teams is a nightmare. A poem written by an adult recalling the childhood torture of being rejected speaks of the hurt.

It's the central inspiration for this one off 60 minute drama workshop. It would apply to a girl or other as much as boy. Many have felt peer group rejection.

Learning objectives

  • To use a poem as a particular stimulus for devised drama
  • To collaborate with others and explore through a credible character
  • To stimulate and deepen thinking and inter-thinking at key moments
  • To experiment with either a few students, distancing, or online via Zoom or other, to create a piece of drama.



The football team scene from Barry Hine's play Kes, which was made into an excellent film


In small groups, devise a short scene where the majority gang up against one who they've rejected on specific grounds – skin colour, disability, too tall/short, too poor/rich or anything else. Share and show some.

Or, if at home on Zoom, perform a monologue as either the rejected one or one of the majority who regrets what they all did.

Teacher-led discussion:

Children and teenagers are often at the receiving end of embarrassment, humiliation and disappointment at never being picked to join a popular, successful, high-powered team. Are any students willing to share experiences?

The class will work in groups of 4/5, so how do we choose? Birthdays? Height? Highest scoring? The least confident chooses? Teacher chooses?

The stimulus:

Base the drama on this poem. It can be simply retold through the narrator's voice, or made more complex.

Picking Up Teams

Here we are, here we go again. It's picking-up-teams time. How I dread those words. Teams to run, kick or climb. Captains as usual, Jimmy and Gob, How they get on my nerves. They'd be dead if everyone Got what he deserves. Half the class picked already And I'm still standing here. Why don't they take a chance? What have they got to fear? The same three left, And nobody tells me why. Girls all laughing about me, No one looks me in the eye. Gob says, ‘you can have him.’ Jimmy is bored, stifles a yawn. Neither side wants me They wish I'd never been born. OK so I've got poor eyes And I can't kick or catch, But I'm not completely helpless They might not lose the match. It would be nice just once To be picked in someone's team. It would be nice just once To make it real, my dream. But, odd one out, last boy, No choice but to walk away, Words come through choked tears ‘s OK, didn't want to play anyway…

Devise up to three short scenes based on the poem. They needn't be about sport, could be a hobby, holiday or adventure. If there is time, insert a twist – the rejected character gets the last word.

NOTE: If students are still working from home or socially distanced in school, use Zoom or other to create a story involving heads and shoulders only.

Drama techniques:

If in school with peers, use mime, voice, gesture, physicality, slo-mo, levels, each with a credible character while keeping distance as required. If working online, develop characters through faces, heads, hands and voices in monologues.

Four possible scenarios:

  • rejected character takes it badly
  • a team injury means the rejected character has to play
  • he/she is brilliant/hopeless.
  • a ‘nobody’ asks to join a gang
  • initiation test – he/she fails/does well
  • the gang's reaction.
  • a group agree to reject somebody
  • he/she tries to break into the group
  • he/she does/doesn't succeed.
  • teacher rigs pick-up for or against one student
  • that student does well or is hopeless
  • the teacher's action is revealed.

Share and show so far. If in school, each group should share highlights; if online, students perform on screen. There should be some self, peer and teacher review of the work with constructive comments. Did the Zoom approach work to make drama? Did drama work with social distance? Was it more stylised?