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Round-Up: Theatre Games for Building Relationships

In this round-up post, we’re focusing on relationship skills, which is one of the five areas of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). If the concept of SEL is new to you, check out this article for a basic overview: Social and Emotional Learning in the Drama Classroom: What Is It?. 

Here are ten theatre games that help students develop relationship-building skills: five for building relationships between students in the drama classroom and five for building and developing relationships in character. Each game has an additional exit slip question that you can use for a post-game written assignment or verbal discussion topic, to help students further delve into the topic of building relationships.

Building Relationships in the Drama Classroom

The Human Knot

  • Students must work together to untangle a full-class knot.
  • Exit slip question: How does this game help to build relationships in the drama classroom?

The Negotiation

  • Students must work together to plan and present on a topic in a short amount of time.
  • Exit slip question: Describe your relationship with your teammates during this game. Were you a leader, a follower, spoken over, a collaborator? (Your relationships with different teammates might be different.) How did that make you feel?

Three Games to Help Students Play to the Audience

  • These three simple games will help students learn audience awareness and theatre etiquette: Trapdoor, Upstage/Downstage, and Act It Out.
  • Exit slip question: What is the relationship between actors and the audience? How can you use the skills you practiced in this game to improve that relationship?

Three “Get To Know You” Games

  • These three simple games will help you and your students get to know each other: The ABC Name Game, Move Yer Butt, and Mixer.
  • Exit slip question: How did this game help you develop/improve your relationships with other students?

Three Things in Common

  • This game will help students get to know each other better, beyond surface commonalities.
  • Exit slip question: What was something unexpected that you learned you had in common with someone today? What else would you like to learn about that person?

Building Relationships in Character

Combining Skills

  • While students play characters with different occupations, they need to create a working relationship to solve the problem at hand.
  • Exit slip question: What were the relationships between your character and your team members’ characters? How did you build those relationships during the scene?


  • Students play experts in the same profession working together, while discovering that one member of the team is an imposter.
  • Exit slip question: For the experts: How did your relationship change when you realized one of the team members was an imposter? For the imposter: How did you try to relate to the team of experts?

Job Interview

  • Student A interviews Student B for a job, but Student B doesn’t know what the job is.
  • Exit slip question: Who had more power in this relationship? Did the power dynamics change during the scene? How did you feel being more/less powerful than your scene partner? 

Muted Conversations

  • Two students act silently while two other students play their voices.
  • Exit slip question: Was it easier for you to relate to your scene partner or your voice partner? Why?

Taking Away the Script

  • Students work in groups on a scene. Partway through the rehearsal, students are informed that they cannot use any words to perform their scene.
  • Exit slip question: How can you effectively show and develop the relationship between characters onstage without using words?
Click here for three additional exit slip questions on the topic of building relationships.
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