Issue #6: Changing the Rules

Recently, I attended the Arts Midwest Conference for work. Arts Midwest takes place over a huge expanse of real estate, and this necessitates moving from event to event -  watching showcases, talking to agents, and all the other busy work that comes from trying to plan next year's season. Finally, I was able to sit down and just enjoy the evening's showcases. This is the only time of year when I get to see tons of different acts and grow my knowledge in the field. 

I had the wonderful opportunity to sit and enjoy the showcases with some colleagues from other Iowa venues, including a dear friend. Two other colleagues were sitting behind us who are relatively new acquaintances, and one of them asked: "What do you do with your Youth Theatre?".

I always find myself at a loss for words when describing my program. I feel like we cobble together a lot of things from a lot of places. As I struggled to say anything, my friend presented this description of the program:

"Andy does what he wants."

We all had a good chuckle, and I didn't know where really to go from there. Since then, I've pondered this moment and wondered if I should be worried that this is someone's perception of the program, or if I should be content I have the freedom to do exactly what I want (well, within reason).

The actor in me will always be a little too self-involved to not worry about creating a program too atypical to function or to allow collaboration with others, but the Education Director in me is incredibly proud to create a program that can be anything it wants or needs to be. 

How do you let your cannon loose upon your program? Tell us in the comments!

Activity: Zip, Zap, Boing!

Generic Title: Not Zip Zap Zop

Players: 7+ ( the more players, the better).

Ages: All (but you'll see best results with 3rd grade and up)

Facilitation: Start by gathering your group in a circle and introducing each of the three different types of "energy" passes individually. Gradually put them all together.

zip, zap, boing 2.jpg



Zip: "Zip" may go to anyone in the circle except the two people on either side of you.   You may not zip back to the person who zipped to you (no "zip" backs).

Zap: May ONLY go to one of the two people standing next to you.No "ZAP" BACKS!

Boing!: When you want to return the energy back to the person who zipped or zapped you. NO BOING BACKS. "THERE WILL BE NO BOING--BOING'S."

Go through these three until the game runs smoothly. Once you're there, ask campers to sit out of the circle when they send a type of energy in the wrong direction or in the wrong order. 

You'll need to go slowly at first, but gradually encourage campers to pick up speed to a point where they are simply reacting to the cue given them. When all that is in place, have everyone stand back up and start to add more options:

Oil Slick: This is like a zap in that it can only be sent to the people standing next to you, but in an oil slick, the energy jumps over two people. Let's say you are going to your right. When you say "oil slick" and pass to your right, the two people to your right must spin around, bring their arms over their head, and shout, "OIL SLICK!". Then, the energy picks up to the right of the two people jumped. You may not "boing" an oil slick, but you may send the oil slick backward. (Since a "boing" would entail sending the energy back over two people, this minimizes confusion.)

Avalanche: Everyone in the circle must run to a new spot in the said circle. Chaos ensues.

Zip, Zap, Boing 2.jpeg



Helpful Hint: In extremely large groups (20+), momentum has been known to drag in Zip Zap Boing if used as a morning focus activity. An antidote we like to use is to split these large groups into two or more circles after everyone is comfortable with the rules of the game -- if you've got high schoolers or teachers to facilitate in each circle, even better. When the game gets going and campers start to gain speed, they must run to join the other circle anytime they "zap" where they should have "zipped," "boing" a "boing," or are too slow to pass on the energy. Then, when someone calls "Avalanche!", everyone must run to a new circle, and play continues for as long as you can stand the fun (har har har).