We are starting to post rules for games and techniques! If you've used this game, have variations to add, or have questions about how this and other games are played, leave us a comment.
This is a rhythm game that can be played in pairs or in teams with many variations. It's a great warm-up for the body and voice, for being creative and receptive, and makes a good transition between ice-breakers and more involved theatrical work.
In his book Games for Actors and Non-Actors (London: Routledge, 1992), T.O. founder Augusto Boal briefly describes a game called "Crossing the Room" (p. 100) where "two actors cross the room from opposite sides, with a particular movement, rhythm and sound." In more recent workshops with Boal and his students, the game has taken on many different and more specific forms, two of which I'll give here:
Crossing the Room as Animals (two actors at a time with the rest of the group watching):
- Divide the group in two and have them line up facing each other on opposite sides of the space. The front of each line is diagonally across from the front of the other.
- The person at the front of each line thinks of an animal and then begins to act, move, and emit a noise like that animal. These two animals enter the space, moving slowly toward each other.
- When the two animals meet in the middle, these actions, movements and noises become an interaction—an interspecies conversation. Each animal notices the actions/movements/sounds of the other.
- The two animals each begin to "evolve" into the other, gradually giving up their own animal's characteristics and replacing them with those of the other animal. As they do this, the two animals physically switch places in the space as well.
- These animals then finish crossing the room, arriving at the end of the line opposite from where they started, and the next pair of animals emerge from the fronts of the two lines.
Exchange of Love and Anger (in teams, with everyone going at once):
- Actors form two lines with each person directly facing someone on the other side. (In case of an odd number of people, a facilitator can step in or out to make it even.)
- All turn to face away from each other. One team forms images of "Love" and the other of "Anger."
- All turn around once again to face each other. At the signal, actors dynamize their images, adding a movement and a sound, forming a rhythm. With these rhythms, the two teams gradually move toward each other.
- Once they meet, each pair creates a dialogue of Love and Anger, and then exchanges rhythms gradually by giving up aspects of their original image and rhythm to take on those of their component, eventually transitioning completely. As this transition happens, Love and Anger switch places, as well as roles, and back away from each other to arrive in lines opposite from where they started.
- Repeat this game a second time with each team taking on the opposite role. Partners then debrief, then the whole group discusses their experience.
Variations: The rules for these games are interchangeable and flexible: Love and Anger could be done in isolated pairs with the rest of the group watching, and Animals could be done as teams moving all at once. Other emotions can be swapped in, or try human professions instead of animals. As an alternative to exchanging roles, the rhythms could be morphed into a unified rhythm, ending up with a pair of identical hybrid creatures and/or emotions as the result—What is the synthesis of Love and Anger? Of a snake and a bumblebee? A goose and a lion? A bloodsucking leech and a hungry Wall Street broker? If you have any other variations or ideas, let us know!
Workshop photo taken in West Bengal by Luc Opdebeeck from Formaat, a Theatre of the Oppressed organization in Rottendam, Netherlands.