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ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE... and You're the Star

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You don’t need to be a drama queen (or king), or the star of your 1971 high school production of Bye Bye Birdie, or even a Shakespearian scholar to tap into the rich tool kit of theatre techniques available to any trainer.

While a few very successful trainers go out of their way to avoid exercises that resemble theatre games in any way, the reality is that most of us need a creative way to share information, enliven our presentations, and reach out to a diverse group of adult learners who tend to have short attention spans and their own, unique learning styles. Using drama, a catchphrase that includes a variety of theatrical techniques, is the perfect way to make a good presentation more effective and memorable.

A word of caution : Drama can make a good presentation great, but it won’t make a bad presentation good. As in the use of any training technique, before you begin to think about what drama exercises to add, start with a solid strategy and make sure that your curriculum is well thought out to meet the stated objectives of the course.

This article is adapted from the very popular workshop the authors first taught together at the International Conference on Volunteer Administration in Phoenix in 2000. Like the workshop, this article is divided into two sections and explores the continuum of theatre techniques, from creative drama to fully scripted skits, and looks at how they can be adapted to virtually any training.

The first part of the article looks at Creative Drama and includes examples of how these techniques can energize an ice breaker, help participants explore a complex concept though individual role playing, and work through tough issues with fully improvised group scenes. The second part of the article explores the use of scripted scenes in training, and how to bring out your own Tennessee Williams in the process.

There are some wonderful pointers here for any trainer, along with an an icebreaker and several skits (with and without scripts).