Thiagi Group

Playing with Status

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15 - 30 Low
Participants are given a short script of 8-10 lines of neutral dialogue. The scene may depict a job interview (see the sample below) or a coaching session. Pairs take turns enacting the scene, playing with the status relationships through non-verbal behaviours.


communication enhancement through team building




    Game Flow

    1. Distribute the handout with the script for the scene.
    2. Recruit two volunteers to act out the scene.
    3. Allow the pair to play the scene once without any outside direction.
    4. Discuss the perceived status of each character.
    5. Assign status roles to each of the two players and have them play the scene again. The status assignments may include any of the following:
      • Person A has high status; Person B has low status.
      • Person A has low status; Person B has high status.
      • Both have high status.
      • Both have low status.
      • Status of both persons remains equal but shifts from low to high.
      • Status of one person starts high and ends low; status of the other person starts low and ends high.
    6. Replace the two players with a new pair and continue with different status combinations.
    7. Debrief at the end of each round.
    8. Conduct a final debriefing discussion.

    Suggested Debrief Questions:

    • How much do you think the words mattered in this interaction?
    • What were the most effective ways to raise your status?
    • What lowered your status?
    • What status choices would you like to make in a real-life interview? A sales call? A coaching session?
    • What is the value of being aware of status during a conversation?


    • Allow each team to try a couple of different status interactions before moving on to the next team.
    • Feel free to freeze the action of the scene in the middle to point out a clear status moment.
    • Point out that attempts to claim status can backfire: High status people can fall quickly if the other person fails to be intimidated. Low status people can gain status by being self-focused.


    Use one pair for the initial demonstration. Then divide participants into triads (two actors and one observer) for subsequent enactments.

    Have the group write their own neutral scene. Make sure that the script is really neutral.

    Set up status battles with the observers voting to decide who is the lowest or the highest.

    Incorporate 30 seconds of silence somewhere in the scene.

    Allow actors to improvise the scenes in their own words.


    Adapted from Keith Johnstone's Impro, and Freestyle Repertory Theatre


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