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Eighth graders take theater games class at Black Box Theatre


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This Thursday, the eighth graders participated in a Theatre Games class in the Black Box Theatre. Theatre teachers Ben Posner and Alexis Dahl co-teach the class, which is actually based on a theatrical concept called “TheatreSports” invented by Keith Johnstone.
Johnstone developed the concept of TheatreSports, an improv competition which involves the performers, the audience, and judges. The point of the competition is not who wins or loses, but rather the fact that someone does, because once the audience knows it’s a competition, they root for a champion, Posner said.
Last year, the Theater Games class didn’t exist but theater students responded so positively to the theater games they’d play within their classes so that the teachers decided to make a class devoted entirely to them. “They teach the things we want them to teach,” Posner said.
He hopes that the students have fun and that the audience enjoys the performance and gets a sense of the skill that’s involved in this kind of work, Posner said “Every time we have a live performance, we come together and figure out what’s better,” he said. They realize what works and what doesn’t work during live performances, he said.
The event is composed of two types of games: filler games, which are short-form competitive games that are challenges of wit, and story games, in which the performers build or tell a story. An example of a filler game is the “S-game,” in which the performers can have a conversation using no words that start with S, while a story game is more difficult because there’s no rules to go by. The idea of the classes is to get to the point where the teachers can simply give the students a scenario, and each team will play a different scene based off of that scenario.
Although he was a bit nervous to be on stage and perform in front of an audience, he was still very excited to do improv and have fun with friends, Yin Fei (8) said.
She was excited for the games because of the fun rules of the games that Posner selects, Rachel Kuhn (8) said.
Neither Fei nor Kuhn have performed theater outside of school. “I enjoy [theater] and I love to try new things,” Kuhn said.
“I just thought that trying something new would be an interesting way to learn something that I have no knowledge of otherwise,” Fei said.
The games have allowed him to bond with his classmates, Fei said.
He would like for there to be more theater games in the future because he finds them to be a good way to learn about “thinking on the spot, giving up control, and building off of others,” Fei said.

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Eighth graders take theater games class at Black Box Theatre