In a circle, all participants start by composing their bodies in images or gestures of their choosing. The first player points to a discreet body part on the person to their right (anything from an eyebrow to a leg, a belly to a finger), and asks “is that your [blank]?” In the “blank” the first person chooses a noun other than the actual name of the body part to which they pointed. They can try to identify an object that might correspond with the image/movement the second player is displaying or choose something incongruous, as long as they choose a noun other than the actual name of the body part. Player 2, the person being questioned, then responds in two ways: physically, they try to use that body part to embody/recreate/display the image of whatever word the first person used. Verbally, they respond with “No, that’s my [blank]!” Similarly, in this blank the second person inserts a word other than the actual name of that body part. The second person then turns to a new player on their right and begins the process anew, starting with the word they used for their own body. An example is as follows:
Player 1, pointing to Player 2’s arm:
“Is that your umbrella?”
Player 2, now using their arm as an umbrella:
“No, that’s my blender!”
Player 2, pointing to Player 3’s foot:
“Is that your blender?”
Player 3, now moving their foot as a blender:
“No, that’s my flower!” And so on.
The game continues moving around the circle until it seems the players are moving and posing as many body parts as is possible.
The game then breaks for a short debrief before restarting with a twist. The second part of the game is focused directly on personal names, rather than the idea of naming, but I found in the workshop that without this first part as a primer, the question of names was much too personal and difficult to approach. Since names usually come at the beginning of every applied theatre workshop, beginning with names felt important, but it also felt like we needed to start with a common language about names—a common discourse on how we might approach names in this workshop. While the naming process might suggest a stability of naming, Crawford argues that for trans people it is often felt as an expression of linguistic slippage. While the players in this game are naming themselves as they choose, they are also playing with the dissociation of the signifier from the signified, destabilizing the sign.
I designed the second part of the game to work with or without the above mentioned debrief break. If the group feels like they are already developing some trust, cohesion, and willingness, I would recommend proceeding through both parts before debriefing. If the group feels like they are not quite internalizing the themes and are still resisting, taking a moment to stop, talk, and restart might be necessary. The second part of the game begins just as the first, but now follows people’s names rather than objects:
In a circle, all players begin by posing in an image or gesture of their choosing. Player 1 turns to the player on their right and asks “Are you [Player 1’s name]?” Player 2 responds in two ways: physically, they embody the gesture or image of player 1. Verbally, they respond “No, I’m [their own name]!” The game proceeds around the circle like so:
Player 1 to player 2: “Are you [player 1’s name]?”
Player 2, now copying player 1’s image: “No, I’m [player 2’s name]!”
Player 2 to player 3: “Are you [player 2’s name]?”
Player 3, now copying player 2’s original image: “No, I’m [player 3’s name]!”
This cycle of taking on the body of the previous person and asking the next if they are your name continues until it returns to the original player 1, who then can choose any player in the circle at random, moving across the circle popcorn-style. An example is as follows:
Player 1 to player 4: “Are you [player 6’s name]?”
Player 4, now copying player 6’s body: “No, I’m [their own name]!”
Player 4 to player 3: “Are you [player 7’s name]?”
Player 3, now copying player 7’s body: “No, I’m [their own name]!”
This continues around the circle as many times as feels reasonable.