People of the World
In this activity you will use images of people of the world as inspiration for creating characters that can interact with one another
What you’ll need: A small group of children or siblings and other family members, pictures of people for as many group members. The pictures can be cut out of magazines, and then pasted onto cardboard.
Try to get a good assortment of pictures of people – all ages, races, levels of attractiveness; don’t put any famous faces in the selection. The more interesting the setting and the appearance of the person, the more there is for everyone to use for inspiration. Remember, there are no wrong answers – but you should be able to answer “why” questions about the character and picture.
What’s it for? This activity encourages dramatic play and can be a fun way to promote imaginative role-play, as well as storytelling and story-making as a means of exploring one’s identity. This activity also nurtures communication, empathy, and relationships within the group.
Notice how you’re feeling right now. Close your eyes and notice what’s going on inside your mind and body.
How are you feeling?
What are you thinking?
How does your body feel?
All group members should spread themselves out, so that each person has enough space to think without distractions.
The group should elect one leader.
The leader passes out a picture to each participant, explaining that no-one else (including the leader) should see the picture.
Each group member including the leader will have three minutes to look at the person in their picture and to become that person.
Use the picture to help you decide – are there details about the person’s clothes, their surroundings, and their face which give your ideas?
Decide what kind of personality the person in the photo has.
How old do you think the person is?
What kind of life do they lead?
Try to create a “story” for this person, and a voice, mannerisms, and attitude.
All characters will attend a pretend party at the end of the three minutes (group members should not talk to one another before the three minutes are up).
Once the three minutes are up, group members need to hand in their pictures to the leader without revealing the image and transform into their characters immediately. It is important that all characters talk and interact as if they are at a party.
The party lasts five to ten minutes. All group members should attempt to talk to everyone.
Looking at all the pictures, can you determine which image the other group members used for their inspiration after interacting with them?
Finally, when the time is up, the leader asks everyone to discard their characters and become themselves.
Extra Activity: Characters can pair up and come up with a story about a time when they had to team up together to solve a problem. It could be a story about how two strangers met and helped each other, or it could be a story about two long lost friends who came together to solve a problem.
When you’ve finished, spend a moment reflecting on the activity and ask yourself the following questions:
Did you learn anything new about yourself while you did this activity?
Where there any similarities between yourself and the character you created?
Was it easy or hard to interact with the other characters?
When meeting other characters, did you discover things that you liked or disliked about the character you created?
Did you recognise any feelings or emotions in the way that your character presented, and are those feelings you have experienced yourself?
How do you feel after discarding the character and becoming yourself again?
This activity is fun way for children to test out new ideas, new ways of being, and to explore new interpersonal dynamics. When we are telling, listening, or dramatizing a character or story we can create enough distance to give ourselves permission to release emotion and recognise certain undiscovered aspects of ourselves that are like those of the character.
Take a moment to notice how you are feeling at the end of this activity. Did you discover anything surprising? What can you take away to make you feel better about yourself from this activity?
Landy, R. (1994) Drama Therapy: Concepts, Theories, And Practices. Springfield: Charles C. Thomas.
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Created by Kamala Roberts © January 2022
Creative Arts Used: Drama
Psychological Areas Explored: Relationships, Empathy, Communication, Emotional Wellbeing, Self-Exploration and Play
If you enjoyed this activity, you might also like: Solo Speech: Create a character and write a speech from their point of view.
These activities could be done by children of all ages, but some may need the support of their parent or carer to read the instructions or complete the activity safely.
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