Alan Marshall Bella Edwards Bob Howourth Brian Davis Brenda Cook Carol Chilcott Claude Rimmer David Conn David Glover-Kirk David Parry-Jones David Scott David Talbot faustus group Jack Mundy Jacky Long Joan Clews Joan Goodyear John Vowles Kathy Stewart Kevin Hogan Lizzie Lane Lyn Martin Mary Lansdown Nicholas Selway Peter Sutton Richard Edwards Robert Chapman Robert Tooze Royston Tanner Sarah McGreevy Stephen Canaby This River Winding Tina Kelly Tom Hodson georgeT

Workshop Games and Exercises - page 2


a sketch of faustus with mephistophilis and other actors behind him
Faustus and Mephistophilis by Carol Chilcott

A photograph from the play, Mephisophilis being groomed by his servants
Mephostophilis and his servants

Keith Johnstone has an excellent section on status and master/servant games in his book "Impro for Storytellers" pp.219-241. It is so informative and comprehensive that to try to condense it here would not do it justice. Here are some exercises from ideas by Keith Johnstone that the players have used and adapted in their own rehearsals:

Set up a line of people. Each person in the line is the master of the person on their left - the person at the far left, therefore, has no servant. The first person gives an order, eg. "Sit down." Each person in the line has to repeat the order to the person on their left, but using a different emotion, tone of voice or physical expression - whispering, shouting, jumping up and down, and so on.

Try this again, but each person, when given the order to sit, must decide whether or not to obey, depending on how the order was given. If they sit, their challenge is to make the standing person next to them obey their order. Status is not dependent upon physical position. A person in an apparently subservient position can still be the person with the power and status.

An improvisation involving a master and a servant. The master wants the servant to do something for him, eg. make him a cheese sandwich. The servant has to find as many ways as possible of not giving the master what he wants while not letting the master know what he’s doing. If the master gets irritated or realises that the servant isn’t doing what he wants, he can click his fingers. The servant dies, to be replaced by a new servant and a new task. How long can each servant survive before being "clicked"?

You will need a pack of cards with jokers. Thirteen volunteers each have a playing card stuck to their foreheads. Each person can see each other’s cards, but not their own. Now, set up an improvisation where the volunteers are people at a party. They offer each other food and drink, or ask/demand it, according to the cards on other people’s foreheads. After this has run for a while, as the volunteers to arrange themselves into the order of the suit of cards, where ace is high and joker low. Each person guesses their position by the way other people behaved towards them. Any observers are only allowed to help if the participants get really stuck.


This exercise will help you to understand the process that the Portway Players go through when they work on a text.

Remember: keep it simple, it is your re-telling and the interpretation of the text that is important not elaborate costumes, props, stage set, etc.

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