Book – Drama Games for Classrooms and Workshops
Author – Jessica Swale
Year – 2009
Genre – Theatre Theory
Pages – 169

I am writing this on the eve of taking my very first drama lesson at Gillham’s School of Performing Arts.  As I may have mentioned in the past here, I am quite into theatre, and am incredibly excited to be starting work at Laura’s school.  In preparation, I have been reading a fair bit of, not just plays, but also some books based on teaching drama.  If anything is worth doing, then someone has written a book about it.

And the someone that has taken the time here is Jessica Swale.  I wanted to get a hold of a book that would be a handy reference for drama games.  Something that I would be able to dip into for inspiration, and to find a workshop game that would fit the lesson I want to plan best.  If I am completely honest, the thing that drew me to this book over any other is the fact that it was significantly cheaper than anything else about.

A fact for which I am very glad.  This book is a fantastic little compendium, and I have already recommended it to a couple of my friends.  It is worth mentioning that you will probably find little new here.  Of the 101 games in the book, I think I must have played at least 80 of them over the years, but it is great on a couple of different levels.  Firstly, it reminds you of things that you have forgotten.  There was a time when I played the game ‘Rubber Chicken’ – not as silly as it sounds, but still pretty silly – before most rehearsals, but I had completely forgotten its existence until I opened this book and discovered it was the first one in there.  As a result, it is now definitely in my lesson for tomorrow.  There are loads of games like this, and a few of which I think I can plan whole lessons about.  The second reason this book is great, is that it categorises everything so well.  Each game is laid out the same, and includes details such as recommended age range, number of people to play, areas that the game develops, and then everything is indexed.  This makes things really handy.

It’s not a book to plan a year’s work around, but nonetheless, is one that I can see myself referring to regularly over the next few weeks, months and years.  I have always seen drama games as an incredibly important precursor to developing theatre skills, helping with devising work, and working on full scale productions.  Having such a handy book seems like a great idea for anyone who feels the same way.

As a side note, I Googled the author – Jessica Swale – just after I had ordered the book, and was pleasantly surprised to see that she is the director responsible for a production called Palace of the End – a theatre piece that I saw in Edinburgh a couple of years back, and remains the most powerful thing that I have ever seen.  Funny how it all ties together.