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Theatre Fun & Games: Ruin a Play...

Theatre Fun & Games: Ruin a Play...

Take this article’s title with a grain of salt — we would never want to intentionally ruin any play or musical! We’re just going to have a little fun with show titles by adding, removing, and changing letters and words to make goofy new titles.

While this game can be a lot of fun, it also can be challenging. For starters, your students may or may not have previous knowledge of play or musical titles. If it’s the latter, you will want to start by having the group brainstorm as many show titles as they can think of, or providing students a list of play and/or musical titles. (If you need some premade lists, we’ve got plays and musicals for Pride, creepy and spooky plays and musicals, and more than 200 plays in our own Theatrefolk play catalogue to peruse.

While students aim to come up with funny, creative new show titles, they’ll have to ensure that the changes make sense grammatically. It’s also easy to get bogged down in trying to be super witty. With a lower-stakes game like this, it’s better to aim for quantity of responses over quality. Let the funny flow!

Start by having students come up with as many new show titles as possible, using one or more of the prompts below. For an additional challenge, for the first four prompts, have students come up with an explanation of the new plot of the show using elements of the original plot.

You can have students complete this individually, in pairs or small groups, or as a full class. It’s a great bell work assignment, or a way to start devising a new play or musical. Come up with a title and then in subsequent classes, create character profiles and start creating new scenes. Let’s dive in!

Ruin a Play Prompts

1. Ruin a play or musical by changing one letter of the title. For example: “In the Weights,” “Show Goat,” “A Little Fight Music,” or “Bean Girls.” Some show titles are conducive to more than one change — consider “Glove Never Dies” or “Love Never Pies.”

2. Ruin a play or musical by adding a word to the title. For example: “The Burger King & I,” “Peter Pancakes,” or “Rock of the Stone Ages.” If only adding one word is too difficult, students can include an article, preposition, or conjunction to make the title flow better and to ensure grammatical accuracy.

3. Ruin a play or musical by changing one word of the title to a completely different word. The word must be one single word agreed upon by the whole class. For example: “The Phantom of the Bathroom,” “Romeo & Bathroom,” “Lord of the Bathrooms,” or “Arsenic & Old Bathrooms.”

4. Ruin a play or musical by adding “… of DOOM!” to the title. For example: “Our Town… of DOOM!” “Waiting for Godot… of DOOM!” or “Smokey Joe’s Café… of DOOM!” Does this addition make the new show seem comedic or scary? Why?

5\, Ruin a play or musical by describing it badly. How can you describe a play with a one-sentence summary? Here are some examples:

  • “A monster saves a princess from marrying a tiny man” for Shrek the Musical
  • “The plant-based version of Sweeney Todd” for Little Shop of Horrors
  • “Woman is rendered mute to meet her crush but discovers appreciation for shoes and forks” for The Little Mermaid
  • “It’s literally a bunch of felines singing” for Cats
  • “Remember the cats? Same concept, but instead of cats it’s toy trains” for *Starlight Express *
  • "Misshapen French man tries to find true love” (This could be The Phantom of the Opera... or Beauty and the Beast... or The Hunchback of Notre Dame!)

How many new, funny titles will your students come up with?

Click here for additional prompts.
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