Workshop Practice: Status Play, from the Open Space Learning Project

Workshop Practice: Status Play, from the Open Space Learning Project

Description

Status is often used in actor training and applied theatre as a way of introducing character-based improvisation to a group. It is accessible to both inter-cultural and inter-generational groups as it distances role to a numerical scale from one to ten. You will need a pack of playing cards, with all picture cards removed. Suits are irrelevant but the ace cards must be used as the lowest card. First, define status as one’s behavioural power in relation to space and other bodies (whilst acknowledging a more complex social definition exists outside of this room). Introduce and model the ace card and lower numbers (2-4) as low status and ask for examples of low status behaviour. Then introduce and model high status (numbers 8-10) and ask for examples of high status behaviour. Indicate that medium status (5-7) will require neutral or flexible behaviours. Allow all members of the group to select a card at random and not reveal this card to other participants. The stages of the introductory activity are as follows: a) every participant should find a space to create a still image clearly showing their status number; b) they should then move as their status number but not yet interact with other bodies; c) once they have found a way of moving in the space, they can begin to interact with other bodies non-verbally; d) they can add speech once a relevant scenario has been suggested (e.g. academic conference). Without revealing their status number, the participant should now create a status scale in a diagonal line across the space. The final stage of this section would be to reveal each number one by one, with other members of the group identifying specific examples of physical behaviours that created the illusion of this status number.

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