Here is our list of the best theater games for groups.
Theater games for groups are activities involving role-play that help develop essential skills like focus, listening, cooperation, and improvisation. For example, Family Portrait and Communication Chain. The purpose of these activities is to warm up participants while teaching them valuable skills and building their confidence. Outside of the US these activities are called “theatre games.”
These activities are similar to improv games and can work as group icebreaker games. An improv prompt generator can help with these exercises.
This list includes:
- theatre games for small groups
- theatre games for large groups
- fun drama games
- musical theatre games
- high energy drama games
- team building drama games
Here we go!
List of Theater Games for Groups
There are many theater games that your team can try. From Try Not To Laugh to One-Word Story, here is a list of group theater games.
1. Pass The Energy Circle
Pass The Energy Circle is one of the best high-energy theater games to engage groups. The game involves synchronized sound-making.
Here is how to play:
- Have the participants gather around in a circle
- Select a caller who will lead the circle in making sounds
- The caller will give a sound to make. For example, the caller can say “boom,” “oops,” or “aah”
- After the caller makes the sound, the next person clockwise will make the same sound. Other participants will take turns to make the sound as fast as possible in the same clockwise direction
- The round ends with the caller being the last person to make the sound.
- Then the next person standing beside the caller becomes the next caller and gives a new sound to make. Other participants will take turns to make the sound as fast as possible in the same clockwise direction
- The game continues until everyone takes a turn to be the caller
The goal of the game is to transfer higher energy around the circle. In a round, each subsequent player should increase their pitch higher until the caller ends off with the highest pitch.
2. Try Not To Laugh
Try Not To Laugh is a super fun theater game for groups. As the name implies, the game requires players to resist laughing.
First, ask players to pretend that a particular teammate is invisible. Players will walk around, pretend to inspect an object, stare into space, or do anything besides interacting with the chosen player. The invisible player then tries to make the other players laugh. Any player that laughs has to leave the game.
The game will continue until only one player remains.
3. Pass The Clap
Pass The Clap is an energizing theater game where participants pass applause around a circle.
To play this game, participants gather in a circle. The leader starts the clap, and other players take turns clapping in a clockwise direction until the leader makes the final clap.
You can play this game in other variations. For instance, the participants can start the clap slowly and gradually increase the tempo over several rounds.
Drama-Freeze is one of the most interesting theater games for small groups. Here is how to play Drama-Freeze:
- Pair the participants into teams of two
- The first team spontaneously acts a random scene without discussing the scene beforehand
- While the two participants are acting, the supervisor of the game can call “freeze” anytime
- Once the supervisor says “freeze,” the acting team must remain still
- Then another team of two participants will take over the positions of the previous participants.
- Once the supervisor says “action,” the new team in the freeze position takes the drama up from there. However, the new participants must spontaneously come up with a scene entirely different from the one acted by the previous participants.
- Other teams also take turns to play in the same manner
It is not compulsory to group the participants in twos. The supervisor can randomly call out any two participants to play the game. However, all participants get to play before the game ends.
5. Jump Over The Imaginary Ball
Jump Over The Imaginary Ball is one of the best warm-up theater games for groups. The game involves leaping over a pretend ball. This exercise is great for keeping the participants energetic and active.
Here is how to play:
- Gather participants in a circle and choose a leader
- The leader pretends to throw a ball at the feet of the next participant.
- Then the participant will jump over the imaginary ball
- Other participants will imagine that the imaginary ball is moving around the circle under their feet and will take turns jumping over the ball
- The round ends with the leader making the last jump
As a variation, the leader can call different balls with varying sizes to get the participants to jump at different heights. For example, if the leader calls basketball, then the participants will make a bigger leap than if the leader calls tennis ball.
6. Emotion Game
Emotion Game is a theater game for groups to warm up and break the ice. To play this game, determine an order. Then one person acts as the caller. The caller will shout out emotions like “excited” or “moody,” and the first participant will come out to act out the emotion for a few seconds. Then, other participants will take turns acting out emotions called by the supervisor.
Emotion Game is an excellent theater game that helps students develop improvisation skills and emotional intelligence.
7. Communication Chain
Communication Chain is one of the best theater games for teams. The game involves participants expressing activities through gestures.
Here is how to play Communication Chain:
- Have participants form a straight line. All participants should face the same direction
- Select another participant who will be the last person on the line and take the lead
- The leader will write down an action. For instance, “I was taking a walk and saw someone. I waved and fell”
- After, the leader will tap the participant standing in front of them and demonstrate the action they wrote without verbal cues
- Then that participant taps the next person and demonstrates the action
- The demonstration will continue up to the beginning of the line. Then, the first person on the line will have to guess what the action is
The fun of the game lies in misunderstanding. When players misinterpret a gesture, the message gets muddled and miscommunicated, and the final participant’s guess can become hilariously off-base.
Using a charades prompt generator can help with material for the game.
8. One-Word Story
Storytelling exercises like One-Word Story are great theater games for small groups. The game involves each player volunteering a word to form a meaningful story.
You can play One-Word Story in these steps:
- Have the players sit round in a circle
- There will be a coordinator who will start the game. The game starts with the coordinator saying, “Once upon a time.” Then the coordinator follows the phrase with a random word
- The second player sitting next to the coordinator will say another word
- The third, fourth, fifth, and other players will also take turns to say a word. The words should form a meaningful sentence
- Then the players keep taking turns to say the words until the final players say “the” and “end”
You can make the one-word game challenging by eliminating players who take exceed a set amount of time to find a word that fits into the context. This game helps groups to improve thinking, improvisation, and listening skills.
9. Heads Up, Heads Down
Heads Up, Heads Down is a circle game ideal for small to medium-sized groups. The game aims to eliminate players who make eye contact. The exercise continues until a winner emerges.
Here is how to play Heads up, Heads down:
- First, select the game caller that will shout the directions
- Let the players gather around in a large circle
- All the players should keep their heads down at the start of the game
- When the supervisor calls “up,” the players must raise their heads simultaneously, look towards another player, and pause
- When the supervisor calls “down,” the players must bring their heads down. The players will raise their heads again and look at other players when the supervisor calls “up”
- If two players happen to look at each other directly, then they will be out of the game
- The game continues until there is a winner.
There will be one winner if three players play the last round. However, if there are just two players in the final round, then they are the winners.
Dance-Freeze is one of the most popular high-energy drama games for students, teams, and groups. You will need danceable music and participants ready to dance to play this game.
Here are the rules of the game:
- The participants must dance when the music starts playing
- When the music stops, the participants must stop dancing immediately and freeze at that last position they are in when the music stops playing.
- Any participant who keeps dancing is out of the game
- The game will continue until there is a winner
To make this game more challenging, you can have the participants sing along to the song. The participants who continue singing after the music stops playing must leave the game.
Here is a list of energetic songs that work great for the game.
11. Call A Number
Call A Number is a circle game ideal for warming up and gaining energy.
You can follow these simple steps to play this game:
- Give all the players ordered numbers. For instance, if there are 20 players, then each one will take any number from 1 to 20
- Next, have the players gather in a circle and decide who plays first
- The first player will mention a random number within the numbers of other players
- The player with the number mentioned by the first player must respond in time by mentioning the number of another player
- The game continues with players responding on time when another player calls their numbers
A player will lose and leave the game if he does not respond in time after another player calls his number. It is good to let the last two players be the winners. The game becomes very easy when only two players play it, taking forever to have a final winner.
Call A Number game is one of the better theater games that can improve players’ concentration and listening skills.
12. Stop And Walk
Stop And Walk is one of the most high energy theater games for big groups. You can use this game to warm up a large group in a fun way.
Here is how to play Stop And Walk:
- First, tell participants the “walk” and “stop” commands. When you say “walk,” participants must walk around. When you say “stop,” the participants must stop
- Repeat the two commands several times until participants get used to the game
- Next, switch the commands and announce this change. For example, when you say “walk,” participants will have to stop instead. When you say “stop,” participants will have to walk instead
- After repeating the reverse commands, you can add other commands like jump or dance. Let the participants know that “walk” means stop, “Stop” means walk, “Jump” means jump, and “Dance” means dance
- Say any of the commands randomly while participants try to carry them out without mistakes
- You can switch other commands too, like “jump” for “dance” and “dance” for “jump”
Although there is no winner in the Stop and Walk game, the game will keep your group active and engaged. The game is also good for laughs, as the struggle to remember and follow commands can be quite funny to behold.
13. Night Watchman
Night Watchman is one of the most fun theater games for big groups or small groups alike. This game requires players to imitate statues under the watch of a Night watchman. The players will try to move without getting caught.
To play this game,
- First, decide which player will be the Night watchman. This player can move around freely during the game
- Other players take the form of statues. The players can take a few steps around, but the Night watchman must not see them move
- Once the Night watchman sees a player move, the player is out of the game
- The Night watchman can do things to make the players laugh and move. However, the Night watchman cannot touch any of the players
- Set the rules of the game according. It would be best if you did not count breathing, blinking, and smiling as movements that will disqualify a player
You can customize the game to be just a fun no-winner game. In that case, any player that the Night watchman catches becomes the new Night watchman.
14. Tongue Twisters
Tongue Twisters are awesome theatre games for students, but other groups can also play them. A tongue twister consists of words that are difficult to articulate correctly without making mistakes. To play this game, prepare the Tongue Twisters for the game. All the participants can play individually.
Participants who successfully articulate the tongue twister will proceed to the next round. In the next round, give the participants a different tongue twister. The game will continue in rounds until there is a winner.
Here are some tongue twister ideas you can use for the game:
- She sells seashells by the seashore
- A big black bug bit a big black bear
- The great Greek grape growers grow great Greek grapes
- I saw a kitten eating chicken in the kitchen
- I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream
- If you notice this notice, then you will notice that this notice is not worth noticing
- Any noise annoys an oyster, but a noisy noise annoys an oyster more
- Rubber baby buggy bumpers
- Can you can a can as a canner can can a can?
You can have the participants say the Tongue Twisters just once or repeat several times.
15. Family Portrait
Family Portrait is one of the best theater games for groups. The game requires groups to make poses that imitate a particular type of family photo.
First, you will need to divide a big group into smaller groups. Then choose one player to be a caller who will give out commands. Each group will go on stage, and the caller will ask them to strike a pose of any random portrait. For instance:
- A rich, proud, and influential family
- Friends taking a picture in 1960
- A family picture ruined by an over-energetic child
- The shy family
Family Portrait helps to improve improvisation skills and create memorable moments for participants. You can also take pictures of the groups’ poses and laugh about the photos later with other group members.
Theater games are great ways to equip students and employees with valuable theater and people skills. The drama games you can play are equally beneficial for groups and teams in helping participants improve focus, quick-thinking, and teamwork.
For similar activities, check out these Zoom improv games and this list of improv books.