Monday, November 4, 2013

Looking for the "play" in the story

When I first began telling Godly Play stories, I would often tell them too "straight". What I mean is that I would be so focused on the text and the deeper meaning in the story that I would accidentally leave the "play" out of Godly Play.

Over the years, I've learned from my German colleagues to always ask myself, "Where are the playful spots in this story?" Sometimes the script helps with this, but not always, so it is a good question to ask.

Take the Exodus story, for instance, that I told on Sunday. Children starving in a famine, slavery, the first-born sons of the Egyptians dying . . . hard to get more intense than that. But there is a point in the story, where the people of God are crossing through the open waters of the Red Sea, that the storyteller can be really playful in how he/she helps the wooden figures cross over to the other side. One figure can be really hesitant and then run like crazy across. Another can dance across. The next figure can look to the right, and then to the left and then behind and then hightail it to the other side. One can do cartwheels across. There are endless ways to get the 9 wooden figures across that will make everyone laugh, and bring a bit of lightness to an otherwise serious story. And most likely this play reflects the reality of the diversity of emotions which the real people in the story probably felt.

In almost every story, there are playful parts, so here are a few to give you some ideas:

  • In the parables, you can ham it up by actually acting out what the people think the felt underlays might be, i.e. pretending to eat the brown felt that looks like a chocolate bar or putting on the "shawl" that the green underlay looks like 
  • In "The Great Family" when Abraham and Sarah laugh at the idea of God giving them a son, you can have a real belly-laugh and use a particularly funny wooden figure for Isaac, whose name means "laughter"
  • You can even have some fun in the liturgical stories, like in "Circle of the Church Year" where the storyteller yells "Ouch, that's hot!" when touching the red block for Pentecost. The kids will either be astonished or crack up, but you can be sure they'll do the same thing every time they see the red block on the church calendar.
So if you are practicing a story and are not sure how to make it more playful, just keep "toying with it" until you find the playful spot.: )

1 comment:

  1. Ah, Sheila, I'm writing just now about Exodus I told last Sunday!)) It was fun to find that playful spot and be creative with how people are crossing to the other side))