Hydra Hot Seating

 Age: 7 to adult
Players: Whole Group, Small Groups
Time: 10-15 minutes
Skills: Improvisation

Create a character by hot-seating the whole class 

This is a variation of the well-known technique hot seating to play online or in a socially distanced setting. Normally one person takes on a character and is questioned by the group. In this version the group all become exactly the same character and take it in turns to give answers.

Begin by naming a character (for example the Wicked Witch of the West) and ask your first question, for example “Where do you live?” Now choose a student to answer the question. If online, unmute them and listen to the answer, then move onto your second question, choosing a different student to answer. In this way, the class will slowly build the character. As well as finding out about the background of a character, you can also find out about actions that the character has taken and why they took those actions.

Try this with a few different characters. It should be fun for the class to build up the character and it is essential for them to listen to each other. Below is a list of characters you could try – they can be fictional or real. You can also use this as a method for developing characters from scratch for a play or story.


As a development, if online you can send small groups into breakout rooms  with one person asking questions and the others answering collectively as the character. You can do the same thing in socially-distanced groups. Once they have tried it out in groups you can bring them back to the main room and they can demonstrate. You can use this as a way for the class to guess characters if the groups begin by keeping the character secret.

Director’s Tip

  • Encourage students to build on what others say. If they contradict someone before, they should be able to explain why. In other words, they should “accept and build” on previous suggestions as in all improvisation
  • Make a list of questions to ask characters – this can be done in advance or with the help of students
  • Ask students for ideas of questions to ask specific characters before you start questioning
  • Encourage different students to take on the role of the questioner
  • Choose a theme, for example use a group of characters from a book or a historical period
  • Repeat the questions with different students to get other perspectives
  • Encourage students to “get into character” rather than just answer as themselves!
  • You can also play this as a guessing game, where one person has to try and find out who the character is 

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Characters for any age-group
Arya Stark
Big Bad Wolf
Bilbo Baggins
Chimney Sweep
Ed Sheeran
Greta Thunberg
Harry Potter
Homer Simpson
Michelle Obama
Peter Pan
Princess Leia
Queen Victoria
Sherlock Holmes
Snow White
Tiny Tim
Winnie the Pooh
Questions to Ask
Below are some general questions to ask characters, however the best questions are those which are tied to the character’s own story and actions – which will obviously vary from character to character.
How old are you?
Where do you live?
What’s your favourite food?
Do you have any brothers or sisters?
Do you have any hobbies?
What’s your favourite place to visit?
Who is your best friend?
Do you have any enemies?
What are you most proud of in your life?
If there is one thing you could change about yourself what would it be?
Which animal do you identify yourself with the most?
What’s your favourite possession?
Why did you…?
Did you go to school?