A number of assemblies on this site feature drama. There are short scripted dramas, as well as suggestions for improvisations prepared in class. Drama is a powerful tool within the curriculum and can also be a telling way of exploring issues and raising questions.
Some simple ideas for using drama in assemblies follow:
Take characters from a story. It could be a parable or a relevant story that children have been looking at in class. Ask the children to imagine they are a particular character. Describe the situation that the character is in, and help the children to imagine themselves within it. You can then ask individuals to speak the thoughts of the character, going from child to child to build up a variety of ideas.
Alternatively, bring one or two children to the front and ask them to sit on the ‘hot seat’. The rest of the assembly then can ask the characters questions and the situation can be thus explored.
Mime, instead of spoken drama, has these advantages:
- you do not need to rely on children with loud voices;
- More children can see what is going on – so this is suitable for larger assemblies;
- It is often possible to involve more children in a mime, perhaps a whole class.
Many subjects are suitable for mime, with parables being particularly appropriate. You could read a story such as that of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29–37), while a small group mimes it. Or you could create an ‘instant mime’. One way to do this is to think of simple actions that all the assembly can do from where they are sitting and demonstrate as you tell the story, so that everyone joins in. So in the fable of the wind and the sun for example ('The sun and the wind') the whole assembly can mime the man doing up his coat, feeling cold, and then taking the coat off, etc.
Another form of instant mime involves using a small group to create the mime while everyone else watches – see the example below.
With a little preparation, still pictures can be a powerful way of telling a story.
In class before the assembly, ask groups to prepare still pictures showing the key parts of the narrative. Choose the best and polish them, to create a version of the story with simple clear images.
During the assembly, refer to the pictures and ask the children about the feelings and thoughts of the characters. Any parable or fable is suitable for this type of treatment – see 'Walk by on the other side', where you could easily replace the mimed actions with still pictures.
A number of assemblies on this site have simple drama and mime for which the children need no preparation. Ask for a number of volunteers – one for each character in the story. Tell the story and give the volunteers simple actions and words to do and say as they go along.
Drama is a creative way of working, so feel free to take and adapt these ideas to your own style.
Here’s an example of an ‘Instant mime’ from the Epiphany assembly:
Now tell the story, with the children miming the actions as you speak. Start with the Wise Ones looking at the sky and the servants asleep on the ground.
The Wise Ones see a special star in the sky (Wise Ones look up and point).
They talk together about what this might mean (they huddle).
They decide that they must go on a journey to greet a great new king.
So they wake their servants, collect together provisions for a long journey and set off (they mime preparations).
It is a very long way (lead the party around the hall, adding the following at various points).
Sometimes they are freezing cold (all mime shivering).
Sometimes it is very hot (mime walking in great heat).
They are very tired and long to stop (mime tiredness), but the star keeps leading them onwards (Wise Ones look to star and urge party to keep moving).
As they come near to their journey’s end, King Herod hears about them and summons them to him (Herod beckons them over. Servants hold back, the Wise Ones bow to Herod).
Herod is very interested in this talk of a new king. Perhaps the travellers would be good enough to call back when they have found him so that Herod can worship him (Wise Ones and Herod mime regal conversation).
Stop the narrative here and discuss with all the children what they think Herod may be thinking about. Draw out the idea that he really wants to do away with this new king, whom he sees as an enemy or rival.
Continue the story:
At last the wandering star leads them all to the place where the new King is. The Wise Ones go in and kneel before the baby (Wise Ones kneel), while the servants peep in from outside (servants peep and try to see). The Wise Ones give their gifts to the baby's mother (Wise Ones put down gifts).
Ask if anyone knows who the baby was. Explain that this was Jesus, who would grow up to be a very different kind of king from Herod.
Continue the story:
Finally, after a long journey and exciting day, the Wise Ones go to sleep (all lie down on the floor). As they sleep, they have a dream. In the dream God tells them not to go back to Herod, but to go home a different way.
So the next morning, they quickly get up, pack their bags and set off for home (all mime packing and starting journey) but by a different route (guide them on a different route around the hall back to their starting point).
Herod is very cross indeed when he realizes that he’s been tricked (teacher playing Herod stands up and walks out angrily).
Ask the children miming to sit down, and explain that the Wise Ones found something very special at the end of their long journey, and that you’re all going to think about that now.
The wise ones went on a long journey to find a special person.
Think about the special people in your life. Who is really special to you?