In honor of Autism Awareness month, Two River Theater is reflecting on the ways that theater can benefit and empower people of all abilities. Did you know that theater games can be used as an engaging and effective tool for developing verbal and non-verbal communication and social skills for those on the autism spectrum? These activities can also increase body and spacial awareness and build and promote self esteem.
Looking for something to try at home? Two River Theater Teaching Artists have shared one of their favorite activities from their spectrum-friendly theater classes with us.
“The Passing Game serves as a great activity for encouraging teamwork, communication, and imaginative play. I love the versatility of the activity, as it can be completed in pairs or as a group and can be adapted to accommodate players of all abilities!”—Maria Paduano, TRT Teaching Artist
The Passing Game
- Begin by sitting in a circle with the other players. If you are only playing with two people, you can sit across from each other
- Take turns passing a physical object such as a ball, a pillow, or a book around. Pass it around through the players a few times, focusing on connecting with each other as you take and receive the object.
- When you’re ready, now pretend that the object has transformed into a 100 pound, cement version of itself. What does is feel like to pass such a heavy object? Do your hands and legs shake? Do you grunt as you pass it? Do you need help to lift it? Think of how the object transforms each of your senses – smell, touch, taste, sound, sight. Teach your partner what the object is by using your imagination.
- Once you’ve experimented with the 100 pound, cement version, transform the object into something else. Again, thinking of all your senses and imagination. Examples can include a giant snowball, a gentle bunny rabbit, a smelly pile of garbage, a mouthwatering chocolate cake, a delicate crystal bowl, etc… You’re still passing the initial physical object around, but treating it differently. You can experiment with each person getting a turn to “transform” the object, but it is not necessary.
- Continue to demonstrate what the different imaginary objects feel like. The more you commit and model with the other players, the more the other players will be willing to explore with you!