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ACTION REPLAY & VARIATIONS

CHOICES WITHIN THE 'STORY' SECTION OF THIS GUIDE TO ACTIVE REVIEWING
'DOERS' Hungry for methods? Follow these links:
WARM-UPS   STARTERS   HANDRAILS   REPLAYS  
'THINKERS' Why stories can play such a key role in learning from experience.
See STORY MAKING AND TELLING and STORIES IN LEARNING.
'FEELERS'
&
'SEERS'
For two powerful learning stories, find
Martina's Story and A Manager's Story.
(These are part of the 'Stories in Learning' page.)
REPLAY METHODS DESCRIBED ON THIS PAGE
INTRODUCTION   BENEFITS   PLAYING WITH THE CONTROLS   VARIATIONS   AUDIENCE   EXAGGERATION   RECONSTRUCTION   THEATRE OF THE ABSURD  

See Visible Reflection Techniques and Reviewing Ropes Course Experiences for further examples of action replay.

 

ACTION REPLAY

'ACTION REPLAY' involves re-enacting an activity as if a video film of the activity is being replayed. Just as on television, the action is 'played back' either to examine an incident more closely or to replay an event worth celebrating.

In the age of TV and video, action replay needs little explanation (i.e. you don't need to be a drama therapist, and the learners don't need a complicated briefing). But you might appreciate some ideas (see below) about how the basic technique can be developed and applied as a reviewing tool.

Replaying the future?? Action replay (the 'no-tech' version) is such a versatile tool that story-telling is just the starting point. It may be all you wish to do with an action replay. But having managed a successful replay, there are many ways and purposes in which this tool can be used. It can be a source of fun and entertainment, and/or a means of analysing critical events, and/or exploring future possibilities. This stretches the dictionary meaning of the word 'replay', so the word 'rehearsal' is a useful replacement if this technique is used for looking into the future. So 'replay' and 'rehearsal' are essentially the same 'technique' but are applied at different stages of the learning cycle.

More ideas and information: For a more in-depth explanation of the value of action replay and other active reviewing techniques, refer to my article ACTIVE REVIEWING. The article also includes descriptions of several active reviewing methods. This page is based on work with young people, and the article ACTIVE REVIEWING is based on training with adult groups. There is, of course, always plenty of scope for adapting and adjusting ideas and methods to suit the characteristics of the people you work with and the purposes that you and they are trying to achieve. Anyway, most learning groups benefit from a balance of 'junior-jolly' and 'senior-serious' activities!

THE BENEFITS OF ACTION REPLAY

ACTION REPLAY has many advantages over video work:
  • it is more fun
  • it is cheaper
  • it keeps involvement and energy high
  • it is more convenient and saves time
  • you can do it almost anywhere
  • you need no equipment (although some 'props' might be useful)
  • it is an exercise in memory, creativity, and teamwork
  • it can provide everyone with a chance of leadership (as director)
  • it can be used as a search technique to find incidents or issues to review more thoroughly

HAND OVER THE CONTROLS, AND PLAY!

Once the reviewer has demonstrated the possibilities, group members can take it in turns to direct the action. The director has some or all of these 'controls' to play with:

REWIND, REPLAY, SELECTED HIGHLIGHTS, FAST FORWARD, PAUSE/FREEZE, CUT TO A DIFFERENT SCENE, CUT AND RE-TAKE A SCENE, PROVIDE COMMENTARY/VOICE OVER, SLOW MOTION, WITH/WITHOUT SOUND, SOUND EFFECTS, ADVERTISEMENT BREAK, etc.

Note:Directors may find their task difficult - with the result that the 'players' start to rebel or drop out. So encourage directors to experiment but not to be too ambitious at first, and encourage 'players' to co-operate with the director - especially as all will want a cooperative group when it is their turn to be a director.

ACTION REPLAY: VARIATIONS

  • FANTASY REPLAY: If only it had been like this!
  • IN THE STYLE OF: Capable groups and directors imitate a particular film or TV style, and replay the same incident from a range of perspectives - each bringing out a different 'side' of the story.
  • INVESTIGATIVE: Bringing out issues which participants have found difficult to recognise or confront during the activity.
  • CUTS: If reviewing sub-groups activities, keep cutting from one scene to another (as in TV soaps).

DO YOU NEED AN AUDIENCE FOR ACTION REPLAY?

If people are not used to the idea of drama without an audience (and would see more sense if there was one) then try to create an 'audience' when first using the technique. If the group has been working in two sub-groups, then an action replay might be a good way for each sub-group to inform the other. If the reviewer has not witnessed the activity to be reviewed, then the group can perform an action replay with the reviewer as the audience. If there seems to be a 'cover up' of some kind that the reviewer wants to 'uncover', improvised action replays tend to reveal what really happened.
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EXAGGERATION
OVER-STATEMENT, UNDER-STATEMENT AND A STATEMENT ABOUT WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

  1. The first stage is a replay that over-dramatises the events being reviewed. You may wish to ensure that only the positive features and achievements are exaggerated. But some groups may also benefit from reliving their conflicts or difficulties in a deliberately over-dramatised way - as this can provide a suitable opportunity for admitting them and owning up to them. This exaggerated version of events can be presented as an exclusive scoop or as headline news.
  2. The second stage is for the group to replay the event (or parts of it) again, this time playing down the more dramatic events and minimising their importance. The group play it cool - picking on the most dramatic events and presenting them as everyday ones, and as something that was well within their stride. This understated version can be entitled 'No sweat', 'Easy does it', 'What's all the fuss about?' 'What did you do today?' 'A day in the life' 'Cool-headed'.
  3. The third version is a more realistic version of events. If three replays seems like over doing it, then just focus on the controversial bits or the best bits - depending on the mood and purpose.

Time-saver: If it is possible to carry out a replay of the event with only half a group, then you can save time and increase involvement levels by splitting the group in half, and asking one half to prepare an overstatement while the other half prepares an understatement. Each perform to the other half of the group and then come together for the final realistic version.

Transfer of Learning: In place of stage 3, invite the group to step into the future and demonstrate how they would 'do better next time' - with the same or a similar activity.

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RECONSTRUCTION

I came across this originally as reconstruction of the scene of the crime for work with people who had committed a criminal offence - but it is equally useful for sharing individual experiences such as work experience with the group. It involves methodical reconstruction of an important event (preferably not a criminal one!) using strip cartoons to tell the story, and then acting out the story using other members of the group. The acting of the story can be recorded on video. This is described in Playback.

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THEATRE OF THE ABSURD (ACTIVE AUDIENCE)

While you are telling your story (based on your own experience) all of the audience must take part in the story to 'bring it to life' - as scenery, props (rucksacks, cars, goal posts), animals, people etc. I used to use this method for reviewing overnight solo bivouacs because this energetic, exhausting and entertaining re-enactment would meet the needs of mutual curiosity ('How did you get on?), and for a fun way of re-uniting as a group. Everybody listens, and because everyone is taking an active part in the story they are far more likely to appreciate it and remember it - even if the acted out version is rather bizarre (The narrator can correct it later if they wish to).

One big difference to 'Reconstruction' is that the story-teller simply tells the story and is not responsible for assigning roles or directing the action. But the narrator may well choose to vary the pace either to bring out a significant point of their story or simply for fun to see how the active audience copes.

A similarity (with 'Reconstruction') is that the narrator stays apart from the action and one of the actors takes their role. This technique can get frivolous, so a reminder that they are helping the story-teller to bring their personal story to life may be appropriate. The story-teller has ultimate control and may at any time ask for the action to be halted or resumed (e.g. if the action is becoming insensitive or unhelpful).

It's a fun and reasonably time-efficient way for a whole group (10 maximum) to tell their individual stories.


Internal Links

More benefits, uses and variations of Action Replay are described in Reviewing Ropes Course Experiences which includes:
  • Seven Benefits of Action Replay
  • Eight Ways of Staging Action Replay
  • Miniature Replays
  • Walk-Through Commentary

Also see Visible Reflection Techniques for further examples of action replay.

For a more in-depth explanation of the value of action replay and other active reviewing techniques, visit ACTIVE REVIEWING where you will also find descriptions of several more active reviewing methods.

External Links

Drama Resource now has its very own app suitable for iPhone, iPad, Android and most smart phones. The app is free and gives you instant access to all the latest drama games, techniques, reviews and lesson plans. To download simply go to www.dramaresource.com/app on your smartphone.

Popular Theatre from the participation field tools section of the FAO website

For more pages about story-based reviewing methods see the CHOICES above.

New experiences are most valuable when they are accompanied by opportunities to create new stories.


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