Drama in the Age of Covid-19

This is a pause in my regular blog posts focusing on drama classroom management, integration, collaboration, and assessment to share ideas about conducting drama in the age of Covid-19, Zoom and social distancing.  I know there is difficulty in taking a collaborative art form and retrofitting it into the new educational parameters. I spent from April-June this year teaching young people drama on Zoom and beginning to design ideas for socially distant classrooms.  I will be sharing with you some of the ideas that were successful for me.

A simple idea for both Zoom and socially distanced classrooms:  try WORD LIST activity (found on page 22 in the 181 Ideas book or online at onestopdramashop.com).  Word List is an activity for later elementary, middle, and upper grades that stresses memory, recall, and word association skills.  Participants do not have to interact with each other as the focus is on listening and connecting what they hear to other actors and to what comes before in a word sequence.   The leader begins with a word; the next participant adds a word to the leader’s creating a string.   The word they add must associate with the leader’s word.  The next participant repeats the first two words and adds a word associated with the word added last.  This continues around the room for one, two, or three cycles….creating a longer and longer string of associated words.  Challenges can be added:  stop and have the activity continue the reverse way around the room or have them start the sequence from end of list reciting all of the words back to the beginning.   

On Zoom and in Socially Distanced Classrooms – use the basic FREEZE.  The Freeze activity works well with all students K-High School.  On Zoom, my signaling device worked well.  They could hear it and react.  I wasn’t so concerned with their holding absolutely still…when we debriefed it was more about self-reflection and overcoming their struggle with concentration.      You can find the basic Freeze and variety of other freeze activities on page 37 of the 181 Level One Ideas for Drama book or on the website.  I was able, with the later elementary, middle, and high schoolers, to move this into the CRAZY SHAPES activity (pg. 37 in 181 Level One Ideas for Drama and on the website). Students who could think of ideas for their crazy physical shape held still and were called on to answer a question like:

               You are at a birthday party and someone just took your photo, what are you doing?

               You are at a beach and someone just took your photo, what are you doing?

               You are on the playground and someone just took your photo, what are you doing?

                              For social emotion learning:

               You are helping someone who is being teased, what are you doing?

               You are helping someone who is injured, what are you doing?

               You are showing kindness to someone in your classroom, what are you doing?

               You are helping out at home (or in the classroom or the neighborhood), what are you doing?

 We observed each actor on Zoom as they shared their idea for their physical shape. 

CRAZY SHAPES will not work as written in person to person classrooms which are in tightly confined socially distanced spaces…but I am imagining that you might have them move just the upper part of their body then freeze them, then ask them one of these questions:

               You are in the water; what are you doing?

               You are performing in a movie (circus, etc.) what are you doing?

               You are a trained animal:  what animal are you and what are you doing?

               You are sitting on a bus; what are you doing?

Repeat having them move just the lower part of their body. 


Please let me know if this is useful content for you.  If so, I have many more activities to share that move into dialogue, scene work, stories, and creative thinking.  I wish I were there to do this with you, but for now, this will have to do.

Your feedback is essential.


by Karen Erickson

Karen Erickson