The aim of this activity is to develop listening and conflict resolution skills and to practise improvisation.
Before starting this activity, set and maintain boundaries so that the ‘argument’ remains impersonal and doesn’t become an opportunity for real conflict.
Designate an area as a ‘stage’. Explain to the group that the object of the activity is to develop their improvisation skills to build up a scene. What you want them to do is to work within a scale of one to ten, one being the lowest level and ten the highest, depicting an argument. You are the control dial for this argument and they will need to listen to the numbers you call out which will be the cue to change tempo.
Set some ground rules as follows:
- any conversation that takes place ends when they come off stage
- any ‘argument’ must be abstract and not a continuation of any outside grievance or vendetta
- only two people can be on stage at any one time and the dialogue only takes place until you call out a new number
- if the experience becomes uncomfortable at any time the group stops and reviews what is going on.
Invite two girls onto the stage to begin the process. Explain that the person on your left has just accused the one on your right of using their mobile phone without asking. They should start a conversation that will develop into conflict. When the intensity of the argument starts to change call out a new number.
The two girls now leave the stage and are replaced by a new pair who will need to pick up the argument where they left It and continue in the new pace set by you. Vary it so that the dialogue changes from full out confrontation at number ten, down to reasonable discussion at one or two. As with most arguments expect it to divert away from the original source of annoyance but if at any time it looks to be getting too personal – stop!
Once everyone has had a go introduce a new target to resolve the conflict. Still in their original pairs the girls take the stage again and try to sort out the argument in a way that is agreeable to both parties.
At the end of the process discuss:
What was easier – arguing or resolving the problem?
What other strategies could be used in a disagreement like this?