NET/TEN Shareback: The Theater Offensive - How To Put Together Your Own Games Exchange!

2014-15 Exchange Grant Recipient

The Theater Offensive (Boston, MA) led a methodology exchange among a group of four LGBT youth-theater programs across North America who participate in the Pride Youth Theater Alliance. The project built upon the NET/TEN Travel Grant experience between TTO and the NOLA Queer Youth Theater Project in the previous year.


How To Put Together Your Own Games Exchange!

Adapted from Breaking the Ice with PYTA Games Exchange Workshop
Facilitation by LOUD, TTO’s True Colors, The Door and Out & Allied

A great triumph of the conference was our group collaboration to present for the general conference membership through our workshop, Breaking the Ice with PYTA. As a group we facilitated a Theater Games Exchange, where participants were able to partake in a number of theater games, while also being invited to share their own. By the end of the workshop, everyone walks away learning new games while also having a chance to practice their own facilitation skills! Here’s how YOU can create your own!

First, pick some games that get people to share their names and that get them moving around.

One of our favorites is NAME AND MOTION. Here’s how you play it!

Name and a Motion

Purpose: To help students recognize connections between words and movements to help with memorization; to help actors get to know each other in the beginning of the rehearsal period.


1. Actors begin by standing in a circle. 2. One person begins by saying their name and also doing a movement while they say it. 3.The actors go around the circle, each saying their name then doing a movement. 4. One person says their name and does their movement, and then says another person’s name and does their movement. That person then says their name and does their movement, followed by the name and movement of another person in the circle, and so on. 5. As the game progresses, the actors must get faster and faster as they go. If anyone hesitates on their movement or anyone else’s, they are out.

Then, pick some other games that get people moving around, like PEOPLE TO PEOPLE. Make sure you have the instructions below:

People to People

Purpose: partners collaboratively problem-solve to physically connect different body parts based on prompts from the teacher. This icebreaker invites students to engage in safe physical contact through non-verbal negotiation. The teacher also has the opportunity to scaffold the level of risk through intentional choices about which body parts students are asked to connect.

Invite students to begin walking around the room. Introduce the activity: When I say “people to people,” everyone must find a partner and stand next to them. Once paired, offer a direction. For example: Elbow to elbow! This means each pair must connect their elbows in any way they want. Ideally, both students must follow the direction, so both elbows from both students are touching. Then ask the group to walk the space again until they hear people to people to find another pair again. Play a number of rounds. Vary the body parts connections (elbow to knee; hip to hip; shoulder to hand, etc.) Try keeping pairs together for two or three instructions (foot to foot and add hand to back). Repeat this process a number of times, offering students different sorts of challenges to problem-solve with their partners.

Another favorite of ours is GREETINGS, which gets people talking to one another and gets them moving around the room. Here are the instructions:


Instructions: All players start milling about the room. Ask each participant to greet each other, perhaps just by shaking hands. Players just shake hands, move on, and greet the next player they meet. Then ask the players to greet each other in a more specific way. Possibilities include:

• greet each other like you greet a long lost friend
• greet someone you don`t really trust
• greet an ex-lover
• greet someone you really hate
• someone you have a secret crush on
• someone you had a one-night stand with
• someone that sold you a crappy used car
• someone with bad breath
• greet someone like you are a cowboy, a soldier, however!

Once you’ve gotten some of your favorite intro games together, you can follow our sample agenda to create your own workshop!

Here is the description we used for our workshop:

Looking for a way for youth in your programs to connect and get to know each other?

Looking for new ice breakers to play in your community center? Have some games you want to share with the field? Or just need a break at the conference? Come Out and Play!!

Join queer youth theater practitioners from the Pride Youth Theater Alliance for a games exchange. Practitioners from Massachusetts, Maine, New York and Louisiana will share games, ice breakers and activities in this interactive workshop. Attendees will learn how to “queer” some standard theater games, ensure that games are inclusive of different identities and abilities, and take away a toolbox full of activities. Participants will also have an opportunity to share their favorite games with the group.

Theater Games Exchange Agenda

**Set up posters around the room:
Safe Space agreements
Improvisation Tips

1) Welcome
- Session Name
- Reminder that folks will have a chance to teach a game later in the workshop
- Briefly review some improvisation tips (we also like these tips from Tina Fey!)

2) Facilitator Intros
Include YOUR Name, Preferred Gender Pronouns, and Fun Fact about yourself

3) Create Safe Space Agreements

4) Initial Introduction Games
- Name and Motion
- Greeting Game
- People to People

5) Open Facilitation of Games by Participants

6) Closing Group Activity

Facilitating the Workshop

To start the workshop, members of our cohort facilitated introductions and space agreements. We highly recommend that you create a set of space agreements so that everyone can play and participate respectfully and without fear of judgement. (One way to facilitate space agreements can be found on page 5 of GLSEN’s Safe Space Toolkit)

Next, workshop facilitators should lead and teach the attendees a game from their programs. Often these will be introduction games, like the ones outlined above.

After a few games have been played, you can ask other individuals to sign up to lead a game. If people are shy about signing up, it’s good to have a bank of games that you can use to lead. Participants may also use the bank of games to help them remember games they may know.

Following our opening games, we had time to learn 6 additional games from attendees, but you can have as many sign up as time allows.

It’s nice to end the workshop with some kind of a closing activity where everyone participates together in a circle. For this workshop, we used Make It Rain (also known as Rain Storm).

That’s it! Now go out and create your own!

To help you, here’s some of the resources we like to use to find games!





Want to learn more? Feel free to contact The Theater Offensive!

Posted by: 
Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Add your voice

Site design by Design for Social Impact