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Adapting Games

Adaptability creates Opportunity

Taking a game that everyone knows well and adding in a dramatic element can really be useful.  Games like musical chairs, guessing games, miming games, memory games – all of these are great for Drama.  Some ways to do this might be


  • varying the space used – playing a big game in a tiny space can be fun
  • the pace (slow motion, speeded up silent movie etc)
  • performance style (e.g murder mystery or a music video)
  • up the stakes – create a target or a threat – perhaps add in a tight time limit
  • use the context of the play or panto you are/will be rehearsing


The advantage is that most people may already recognise the game so you can play it as they know it and build layers in.  If you want some ideas of different ways to play the game – ask your participants, they usually have some really good ideas.


Here is an example of using a game if you want to prepare for panto




You can find instructions on how to play this game if you don’t already know it in the additional reading section of this guide.  Now reimagine the space and use one of the spaces from your panto.  For this example we will use the castle/palace


  • Instead of the 4 sides being on a boat, imagine 4 different spaces in the castle/palace – perhaps the dinning room, the kitchen, the ballroom and the library (you can choose whatever you want – it works well to do this in consultation with the participants).  Then you can create actions

    Clean the Silver
    Bake the Cake
    Dust the books
    Sweep the dancefloor
    Be the throne (groups of 3 or 4)


If you make all of the actions big, this can also help with the physicality needed for panto performance without even trying!


Here is another example of a familiar game that can be used in multiple ways





Select a grandmother to stand at one end of the room facing the wall.  Everyone else spreads themselves out in a line on the opposite wall.  The object of the game is to reach grandmother first.  However, if she turns around and catches anyone moving they get sent back to the start.


This is a great game for all ages that you can play for fun but it is also very adaptable


Team working – the group have to select the person they want to reach grandmother and work together to make that happen


Collaboration – if someone is spotted moving, instead of them returning to the start they are frozen and other players need to release them by tapping on their shoulder


Movement skills – the group are only allowed to move in slow motion or like an animal.  You can think of different versions for yourself and ask the group for ideas


Environment – the space becomes a different environment – slushy mud or the surface of Mars.  Can you use an environment from your play?


Character – the game is played in character – works really well for panto!


The possibilities are endless and it’s a great way of exploring skills and drama by adapting a familiar game

Related resources


See Grandmother’s Footsteps in action

Additional Reading

Online Resource

Instructions for playing Captain’s Coming



This great online resource has lots of drama games but also often includes variations