A Play in a Bag

Teams are given a bag of props, a few challenging words, and 10 minutes to create a short skit.
Supplies
Bag (one per team)
Pieces of costumes: hats, scarves, dresses, shoes, sunglasses, etc.
Props: sporting equipment, household items, toys, etc.
Slips of paper (at least 3 per person)
Pens, pencils, markers (1 per person)
3 bowls or containers
Tape
Timer
Setup

1. Set up your activity in a space where there's enough room for an audience, and a stage area. You don't need an actual stage, but at least have a cleared area where everyone can see you!
2. Prepare one bag of props and costumes for each team – the sillier the better. Try to use things that don’t naturally go together (ie. A football helmet, a feather duster, a calculator, a backpack, and a banana). Use six to ten props and costume pieces per bag.
3. Prepare three bowls or containers. Place a piece of tape on each one. Mark the first one “Location," the second one “Time," and the third one “Words." Place the bowls in an easily accessible place.
4. Assign one person to be the Leader or MC. (They will be in charge of sharing the directions, gathering the slips of paper, and announcing each act for the show)
5. Hand out pencils and three slips of paper to each person. Have the leader instruct the players in the following manner.
A) On your first slip of paper, write the name of a location or place. For example: the Nile River in Egypt, the top of the Empire State Building, a principal’s office, a donut shop… Now fold those slips of paper in half and hand them to me. (At this point, the leader will place all the slips in the bowl marked “Location.”)
B) On your second slip of paper, write a time. For example: the Middle Ages, 12:00 noon, sunrise, the future. Again, fold the slips in half and hand them to the leader. (At this point the leader will place all the slips in the bowl marked “Time.”)
C) Finally, on the last slip of paper, write a word… any word at all! It can be a thing, an exclamation, a name… anything you want, but just one word. For example: ocean, cloud, sunshine, bottle, car, Harold. Fold that over and hand it to to the leader. (At this point, the leader will place all the slips in the bowl marked “Words.”)
6. Break your group into teams, 3 to 5 people per team. Your teams may be larger if you like – but then you’ll need more props and costume pieces in your bags.

How to Play

1. Have one person from each team come up to the bowls and select the following:
1 location, 1 time, and 1 word for each player on their team (i.e., if a team has 5 players, then they select 5 words). Instruct them not to look at the words until they are told to do so.
2. Hand each team a bag. Don’t let them look in the bag until they are told to do so.
3. Have the leader explain the following rules:
A) Each team will have 10 minutes to create a short skit that has a solid beginning, middle, and end.
B) Everyone in the team must have a role, even if it’s to play a tree or piece of furniture.
C) Everything in the bag must be used in the play – however, it does not need to be used the way it is normally used.
D) Each play must contain the location, time, and words chosen.
E) Each team has 10 minutes to rehearse.
F) Plays should not be more than 1 or 2 minutes in length.
4. Start the timer, and tell the teams they may begin. They can now look at their words and their bag contents.
5. Teams can now disperse to practice.
6. When the timer sounds, have all the teams come back and sit in the audience.
7. Have the MC call up the teams one by one to present their skits.
8. Once a skit has finished, and before you call up the next team, have the audience see if they can guess the location, time, and words that were used.
9. Enjoy the show!

Variations

1. Assign topics to each group to base their plays on. Their plays could be about historical figures, superheroes, natural disasters, celebrities -- whatever you prefer, or whatever fits your event's theme!
2. Tell actors that they are forbidden to use their props as the items they really are, and they must pretend that they're something else. A tennis racket cannot be used as a tennis racket – and so it becomes a guitar, or a frying pan, or a fly swatter...
3. Make each skit a musical. Have players perform at least one song during their sketch.
4. If you are short on people, give each person their own bag and have them create a character using the items they find inside. (In this case you can dispense with the slips of paper if you want.)

Tips

1. This is a great exercise for teaching children good audience behavior. Remind them to sit quietly during the performance, and to show their appreciation with applause and laughter!
2. Encourage players to think outside the box, using people and props as things other than what they are. Make a person a shadow, or a conscience. Turn a bowl into a swimming pool, or a banana into a hat…
3. Have adults circulating around the room during the rehearsal period to make sure teams are working together, and aren’t getting bogged down with a word or prop.
4. Encourage humor! The more fun the players have, the more fun the audience will have.

Stats
Activity Length
Indefinite (as long as you want!)
Age
School-age
Tween
Teen
Difficulty
Easy peasy (fun and simple)
Indoor/Outdoor
Indoors
Mess Factor
Clean and tidy
Noise Level
Rowdy
Number of Players
3 to 4
5 to 10
10 to 20
Prep Time
10 - 20 minutes
Space Needed
Medium (a clearable open space the size of a 2-car garage)
Team Division
Teamwork! (divide into teams)