Defender is a game that allows students to explore and embody conflict through non-verbal play. This activity can be related back to a real life scenario or kept in an imaginary frame. The anonymous nature of who is chosen both as an enemy and a defender allows for emotional safety.
Begin by defining a very large, open playing area for students to move within. Ask students to walk silently around the room at their normal pace. After a minute or two, invite students to secretly pick one person in the group and imagine this individual has a force or energy that makes them stay as far away as possible. Be very careful in your choice. Don’t say the person’s name or give them any indication that they have been picked. Keep walking but, now, try to stay as far away from this person as possible. Next, secretly pick another person in the room to represent a force or energy that pulls you as close to them as possible. Try to move as close to this new positive force person as possible; remember to also stay as far away from your opposing force person. If possible, suggest students keep the defender (the positive force) between themselves and their enemy (negative force) at all times.
- What did you notice about yourself as you participated in this activity?
- What did you notice about the group and how it moved?
- What strategies did you use to keep your defender between you and your enemy?
- How does this activity relate to moments in our daily lives?
- Keep your positive force or defender between you and your negative force or enemy at all times!
- How close or far away from your defender can you be to stay safe?
- Remember this is a silent activity.
- Reading/Writing: Explore character relationships in a story or from literature through this strategy. What would Romeo and Tybalt's relationship look like in this activity? If they are enemies, who would be each of their defenders? Include a motivation for avoiding the enemy. How does shifting motivation in an imagined story change how the game is played?
- Science: Explore covalent bonds through this strategy.
- Math: Have students play as numbers. Explore different variations that allow them to play with the relationship between numbers. For example students must make an effort to try and stay between two factors at all times.
Boal, Augusto. Games for Actors and Non-Actors. Trans. Adrian Jackson. New York: Routledge, 2002. Print.