Theatresports, a tool for facilitation

Theatresports and improvisation are the themes in the book: 'Theater vanuit het niets'- Author André Besseling. The book reminds me of a theatre sports event, I experienced in the summer of 2009 with Preau in France.

Theatresports event
Two teams of 6 people each were created out of a group of 60 people. The ones who were not part of the playing teams, were the audience. They received toys and sponges for showing their discontent. And roses for expressing their enthousiasm. The event was led by one facilitator and three judges. The games were supported by somebody playing the piano. The judges voted for the performances by giving scores from 1 (bad performance) to 5 (excellent performance). We played 5 games.

1. Word limit scene
One by one participants from each team were asked to phrase a sentence without a vowel. The first team was not allowed to mention the letter 'e'. Whenever used 'e' the person was off. Each team had a maximum of 5 minutes, to have not more than 6 mistakes (one by each person). After 3 minutes team no. 1 was already off. Team no. 2 was not allowed to use the vowel 'a'. They made it up to 4 minutes.

2. Singing a fake song
Each team was invited to delegate a member to sing a song. The goal was 'not' to sing the best as possible, but to sing as fake as possible. One group imitated the 'Wilhelmus' - the national anthem and the other 'Dromen zijn bedrog' from Marco Borsato.' After that the judges were asked to give points to the most fake singing group. Finally there was no winner. Both teams scored a total of 12 points.

Video: The Art of Improvisation of Theatre Sport

3. The car and the lifter
Two frameworks of two cars consisting of 6 chairs each were put on the stage. From each team two people were invited to start driving (imaginal) with the car. After one minute they picked up their first lifter. The first lifter brought in an emotion (happy!) and all the others had to copy this behaviour. The second lifter brought in another emotion, whereafter all the others in the car had to internalize and express the new emotion. After five minutes the game was over. Time for the judges to give their points. Team no. 1 scored 13 points, against 10 of Team no. 2. Most spectators of the audience did not agree, and threw sponges and toys to the judges. However, there were also a couple of roses that passed the floor.

4. The quiz with absurd questions
Each team had 3 representatives. Each time one of the team members was asked to respond to an absurd questions and the two other team members had to answer by vizualisation. Questions were: "what would you tell your wife, if you came home after visiting your secret lover? ". "What would you do if one of your best friends would give a snake to you as a birthday present?" The role plays were hilarious and made many people to laught. Eventually both teams got a similar score from the Jury. Both teams received 15 points. It generated applaus and roses from the audience.

5. Story telling
Each team got 5 minutes to tell and share a story. The first person in the team started with one phrase. The second person continued with another sentence. And so it continued....... Whenever, a climax came into the story, the faciliator intervened by giving the group a new direction. Finally, after both teams had finalized the story, the jury asked the audience to vote by screaming. Eventually both teams got as much support in loudness, that the jury declared that both teams were announced as winners of the evening.

This is one of the examples on how theatresports can be performed. And theatresports is one of the disciplines in the art and profession of Improvisation Theatre.

What can you do with theatresports as a trainer or facilitator?
The main goal of theatresports is not winning, but to live with the moment and be as creative as possible. Other goals are to gain confidence by making mistakes and to accept errors and consider them as opportunities. It is about creating a safe atmosphere and to accept the ideas of others. Therefore, theatresports is an excellent tool to build confidence in a group and to create a culture of making and accepting each others' mistakes. Especially with groups who are more in the head than in the body, 'Theatresports' can make a difference.

The book: 'Theater vanuit het niets'- Author André Besseling provides also a compilation of warm up exercises. Some are excellent to be used for trainings, workshops or facilitation events. Andre Besseling is one of the founding fathers of the Theatresports Association in Amsterdam.

The International Theatresports Institute is the licensor and founding father of the theatresports.


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