Constellations invites participants to consider and physically demonstrate connections amongst a group in response to statements. This strategy allows participants to develop a sense of community, identity and belonging by making interpersonal connections visible.
Define the parameters of the space that is going to be used. Next, explain that a series of prompts will be read which require each participant to place their hand on the shoulder of someone who meets the criteria of the statement. For example: Place your hand on the shoulder of a person in the room whom you’ve known the longest. Encourage participants to respond to each statement as quickly as possible; there is no right or wrong answer, and everyone will have multiple ways to respond to each statement. Next, ask the group to move slowly through the room or cover the space; participants are encouraged to explore a variety of pathways and to try and keep their bodies equidistant from each other. Offer a prompt and ask participants to quickly form a constellation by connecting to each other’s shoulders. Once grouped invite participants to notice the room. It can be helpful to offer additional meaning-making (Take a minute to notice the room; part of our work together is about building on strong foundation with each other and the friendships we’ve made over time.) The facilitator may also choose to ask each constellation to engage in a brief moment of reflection (Turn to someone in your constellation and discuss your favorite moment from our work together today.) and share out their dialogues (Let’s hear from one or two groups about their reflection.) After each prompt is finished ask participants to drop their arms and return to walking through space without touching or talking to prepare for the next prompt.
Example Prompts for Groups:
- Place your hand on the shoulder of a person you’ve known a short amount of time.
- Place your hand on the shoulder of a person who has a skill you’d like to learn.
- Place your hand on the shoulder of a person you’d like to get to know better.
- What did you notice about yourself doing this activity? What did you notice about the group?
- What, if anything, took you by surprise?
- Why might it be important for us to consider the types of connections we share?
- Don't over-think it. Just find the first person that could be an answer to the prompt for you.
- Take a quick look at how we are connected. What do we notice about the room?
- Invite or assign participants to play as someone/something else, as it might pertain to the lesson.
- Math: Assign participants to play as numbers–Place your hand on number that is a factor of you.
- Reading: Participants are assigned to play as characters–Place your hand on another character that you help in the story.
Playing Boal: Theater, Therapy, Activism ed. by Mady Shutzman and Jan Cohen-Cruz