The Vehicle Game

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.

Can you guess what this vehicle is? Let us know.
Guess correctly and we'll send you a poster!
This theatre game works well for building teamwork, working under pressure and developing the language of images. You need a group big enough to split into two or more teams of 5 to 10 people each. You'll also need space for these teams to work simultaneously and separately.

The Basic Game:
Each team uses their bodies to construct the image of a vehicle—that is, a mode of transport that will be recognizable by the members of the other teams. The vehicle must also be able to travel across the space as a moving human sculpture that includes sound effects. Once all the teams have completed this task, one team shows their stationary vehicle. The others make observations and guesses as to what the vehicle is. Then the vehicle moves and makes noise, either confirming the guesses or not. The round ends with the team revealing what their vehicle was, and the next team has a go.

The Next Level:
The first stage of this game gets people to create "Theatre."  This next stage adds "...of the Oppressed." First have a list of different forms of oppression that you want to illustrate.  In a general T.O. workshop, these can be very broad:  sexism, racism, classism, ableism, ageism, heterocentrism—the group may even decide on several topics themselves.  If the group is working on a particular issue, the topics will be more specific and nuanced:  active racism, passive racism, individual racism, institutional racism, etc.  The facilitator quietly assigns each group an oppression to be made into a machine—or "vehicle"—to be shown and performed for the other groups to guess.  Allow more time for each phase of this exercise, especially for when others are looking as the image, prompting discussion about the various forms of oppression and why people see what they see.  Once all of these Vehicles of Oppression have be viewed and guesses have been made, all groups reveal which was which, sit down and discuss what was discovered.

The basic game can be played with any sort of mechanism, be it a household appliance with moving parts (such as a clock or a dishwasher), a ritual performed by a person or people (brushing one's teeth or going to vote), or larger social systems made miniature by the metaphor of theatre (education, commerce, government, patriarchy, childhood, etc.) As with all Theatre of the Oppressed games, the permutations are endless!

Photo above of one team's vehicle image in a workshop at the Muktadhara III Theatre of the Oppressed Festival in West Bengal. Leave us a comment below with your guess as to what they are. Guess correctly and we'll send you a poster!