Friday, November 28, 2014

What is it?

In a tableau, participants make still images with their bodies to represent a scene. A tableau can be used to quickly establish a scene that involves a large number of characters. Because there is no movement, a tableau is easier to manage than a whole-group improvisation – yet can easily lead into extended drama activities. It can be used to explore a particular moment in a story or drama, or to replicate a photograph or artwork for deeper analysis.

How do you do it?

Students stand in a circle, or around the performance area and a theme is given.  One by one, they step into the space and establish still images in relation to one another until the tableau is complete. At this point, thought tracking can be used to find out more about each of the characters.  The scene can also be brought to life through improvisation, with the teacher clapping her hands to signal the beginning and end of the action.

Once students are familiar with the technique, they can also work in small groups on different aspects of a theme.  The class can discuss each group’s tableau in turn, mentioning what they can see happening, what they would like to know more about and what they think could happen next. Afterwards, each group can comment on how these viewpoints compared with their initial intentions.

  • Click below to watch a 14 minute TeachersTV video on tableaux, thought tracking and soundscapes for key stages 1 and 2.
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    • Pupils look at a painting or illustration of a historical scene that shows a selection of different characters.  They bring it to life by representing the characters with their bodies. 
    • Current Affairs/History: Small groups are given different newspaper reports of the same incident (or differing accounts of an historical event) and asked to produce as accurate a tableau as possible.  This can be used to examine how events may be communicated differently according to the observer’s point of view.
    • For a more light-hearted activity, groups can devise a tableau on a specific theme, such as epic books or movies, famous locations or well-known historical events.  The other students then try and guess what the tableau represents.

Directing Plays with Children and Young People

Saturday 7th February 2015 
10:30am - 4:30pm at Toynbee Studios, 28 Commercial Street, London E1


A stimulating one-day workshop with author and director David Farmer exploring a playful approach to directing with children and young people, using drama games to develop characters, extend acting skills and create imaginative stagings of scenes. Read More >

Primary Drama Across The Curriculum - Spring 2015

Wednesday 28th January 2015 >> Details
10:30am - 4:30pm at Toynbee Studios, 28 Commercial Street, London E1

Wednesday 25th February 2015 >> Details
10:00am - 4:00pm at Contact Theatre, Oxford Road, Manchester M15 6JA


This one-day drama INSET course immerses you in activities and ideas which you can take back and use immediately in the primary school classroom or drama club. The drama strategies can be used across the curriculum and are designed to meet statutory drama and literacy objectives.

Drama Books


"One of the handiest things to have around" - Teaching Drama magazine

Buy 101 Drama Games and Activities by David Farmer now from or


"...bubbles over with imaginative ideas which could be used to good effect by non-specialist as well as seasoned drama teachers." - Teaching Drama Magazine.

Buy 101 More Drama Games and Activities now from or


"A must-have for those serious about the teaching of drama in primary school settings" - Teaching Drama magazine

Buy Learning Through Drama in the Primary Years by David Farmer now from or


This brand new collection of eight short plays for children and young people is supported by inspirational drama games designed to bring creativity and fun to the rehearsal room.

Buy Playful Plays Vol 1 by David Farmer now from or