Status by Number

This exercise comes to us from Jana Sanskriti, the movement for Theatre of the Oppressed in West Bengal, India. Jana Sanskriti uses it to facilitate the creation of their plays, as well as creating societal dialogues in the communities where they practice. It works best with large groups.

Part 1—Interactions of Status: Each member of the group is assigned a secret number from 1 to 7. Each begins to walk around the space, thinking about this number in terms of status with 1 being the lowest and 7 being the highest. On this scale, how does someone with this status walk? How do they carry themselves? What actions do they perform in daily life? In silence, each person develops a character based on their assigned status and begins to interact with others, solidifying these status roles though wordless dialogues of gesture. At the end of this part, the group discuss experiences playing their roles and interacting with others.

Part 2—Images of Status: The group sorts itself out into smaller groups with an even distribution of status levels. Each smaller group then creates an image—a still, human sculpture—that portrays these expressions of status. Members of the other groups then share observations about each image, comparing both the status of individuals, as well as the expressions of status as created by each group.

Variation—Vampires of Disparity: In the first part of the exercise, everyone freezes except for those with highest status. These elites can touch those of lesser status and "absorb" status points, lowering the status of those touched with their own status become even greater. All resume motion, performing according to their new status. This can also be used in the still image in the second part of the exercise, with those who have top status remain as they are, while all others assume images of lower status than they originally had.

Got more variations? Tell us about them by leaving a comment below!

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