Last week I was working in Istanbul at a High School ISTA festival and then as an Artist in Residence at Uskudar schools. While I was at the schools I worked with teachers and students to create theatre, but also to teach them ways into working with each other and how to develop confidence and use the stage well. Below is a lis to exercises that I used with the teachers and students, that you may want to use while you are working with other students on your creative project. They are all good ones for focus, ensemble building or starting points for creating theatre. I hope that you find them useful.

Clap around the circle – turn to the person next to you and then pass the clap around the circle quickly. Developments:

  1. change direction of the clap by turning body and making eye contact
  2. pass the clap across the circle
  3. repeat but with sound and movement – when the direction changes the sound and movement also change

Ensemble work at ISTA HS festival in Istanbul

Pair claps – make eye contact with the person next to you and clap at the same time. Pass around the circle. Developments:

  1. pass across the circle
  2. repeat with the class moving around the room
  3. bring the clap into the body, so that the style of clap varies – above the head, under the leg etc

Name and movement – in a circle each say your name and a movement. Everyone repeats. Go around the circle each saying name & doing movement.


  1. Number the group, then all move around the room. When your number is said, all stop, do name and movement, the group does the name and movement towards you (works on audience focus)
  2. Move around the room, when your number is called, say your name, do your movement and freeze. The group gathers around the person as a connected community. Once the group is all looking the person focused on says something about themselves – the group reacts physically or vocally.
  3. Repeat number 2 but in role to develop the story of the character or the development of the piece.

1,2,3 – in pairs count in rhythm repeatedly 1,2,3,1,2,3 etc. Developments:

  1. replace 1 with a clap
  2. replace 2 with a jump
  3. replace 3 with a click of the fingers
  4. replace 3 with a word – can use categories of build up words to make a story
  5. develop movements to be in context of character and events

Chair duets – in pairs work out a sequence of 4 movements – 2 movements each. Practice the movements. Developments:

  1. audience watches and says what the relationship is, place, mood, backstory
  2. each pair chooses the story they like from the audience and develop the story with words and mood
  3. add another 4 movements to show the development of the story, or what happened before
  4. add an entrance and an exit

Images – in groups of 3-5 create 5 frozen images inspired by the words FAMILY, JEALOUSY, POWER, TRAGEDY, HOPE. Developments:

  1. add one sound and movement to each image
  2. decide on character motives and develop movement
  3. add dialogue so that the 5 images become one short play
  4. read a story of short poem and choose new words or phrases from the poem
  5. develop the 5 images to be on different parts of the stage
  6. play with dynamics and focus