From ‘101 Drama Games and Activities’

Age: 7 to adult
Players: Pairs, Whole Class
Time: 10-20 minutes
Skills: Mime and Movement, Speaking and Listening, Cooperation

Quickly generate repeating actions and sounds or words

We’ve all seen GIFs before – they’re all over social media. So I’m renaming a drama game I’ve been playing for donkey’s years (‘Essence Machines’). From henceforth it shall be called ‘Groovy Image Factory’. I think I prefer this to the usual, rather boring meaning of GIF (‘Graphics Interchange Format’).

It’s halfway between a still image (freeze-frame) and an improvisation, but like a GIF, it loops again and again. There are many ways to play the game (online or face to face).

  • There’s a seven minute video at the bottom of the page which shows you in detail how to play the game online, and it will also help you if you are playing face-to-face


Announce a phrase, such as The dog ate my homework, Here we go again, I want to be alone! or Get your act together! Give the pairs 60 seconds to work out repeating actions and words. One of them speaks the phrase and the other reacts (very) dramatically. They should both move and react to each other, and the action should loop over and over, just like a GIF. It should be short, like a tiny film clip. Ask some students to share their work – then sit back and enjoy how many different ideas have been generated.

Instead of phrases, pairs can come up with a Groovy Image Machine (actions/words/sounds) to illustrate a well-known proverb, such as ‘The early bird catches the worm’, ‘Never look a gift horse in the mouth’ or ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’.

Another idea is song titles or lyrics. You can leave the students to come up with their own ideas for this!

You could even turn it into a real GIF!

Whole Class

Now, you can move onto the group GIF. This is really fun! Stand in a circle and explain that we are going to create one big Groovy Image Factory out of the whole group. Announce a theme (see ideas below) then one person at a time steps into the space to begin a repeating movement plus words/sounds. As other people step forward, they should try to relate to players already in the space, so that a linked GIF with repetitive actions is built up. They can be people or objects which move.

For example, if the theme is shopping, the first participant could mime taking money out of a purse to give to an imaginary shopkeeper, whilst saying ‘I’ll have two of those, please.’ The next person could join the action by becoming the shopkeeper and saying ‘Shall I wrap them for you?’ Not everybody needs to be directly related; other players could be a cleaner in the shopping mall, a shoplifter, a lost child, an escalator and so on.

Director’s Tips

  • Facial expressions and body language are really important in the pairs game
  • Once the GIF is set up, FREEZE the action with a clap of the hands. Next, press an invisible button (and make a ‘BEEP’ noise) to start the machine again in slo-o-o-w motion (movement and sound). Stop it again and press the beep button TWICE which will make the machine move twice as fast
  • Be careful not to let it go on for too long or get too busy and noisy. People who start off the game will soon get tired making their movements


This can definitely be played online. Ask people to show you their ideas then add them in one at a time. We played this in a meeting of The Inspiring Drama Teacher and I was able to call out people’s names in a different order each time, which worked well (see video below).


  • Book
  • Emotion
  • Film
  • Folk tale
  • Football match
  • Halloween
  • Historic event
  • Hospital
  • Job Centre
  • Medieval Castle
  • Poem
  • Pirate ship
  • Proverbs
  • Restaurant
  • Save the Earth
  • School
  • Song titles/lyrics
  • A machine that actually makes something, like chocolate biscuits, school dinners or weather conditions

  • Want to try this game out? We play lots of games in our monthly Zoom Meetings which come as part of The Inspiring Drama Teacher course. We often come up with new ideas between us!

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