Theatre of Alienation

From Ludocity
Theatre of Alienation
Designer: Ben Henley; writing by Holly Gramazio
Year: unknown
Players: 4-6
Stuff required: Script pages, chairs, video camera
Crew required: Two
Preparation: Ten minutes (plus the time to write the script)
Time required: 30 to 45 minutes
Place required: Anywhere fairly quiet
Activities: Acting, deduction
This is a playable game - it's finished, tested and ready to play.
This game is made available under an Attribution-Noncommercial Creative Commons licence. (What does this mean?)

Players attempt to recreate the fragmentary last work of the genius playwright Gilbert Bright. The problem is that the only copy is a set of shuffled, unnumbered photocopied pages. They must work out how to order the script, and then stage the play.


Write an 8-10 page pastiche of a Brecht/Chekhov type play. It need not make any sense.

Put in stage directions which will present the players logistical problems - like characters passing around a letter or sound effects - and clues to sequence (gun on mantelpiece, people leaving/entering, etc).

Each player should get the full set of pages, but in a different order. Photocopy the play with a couple of sections "accidentally" illegible so the players need to fill in gaps.

Provide a props box with the items mentioned in the play and sound effect equipment (coconut shells etc.)

Notes on the script

Put in a couple of slightly longer speeches to let players ham it up a bit.

Make them pass a prop around.

Put in names/words which are hard to pronounce, and for added confusion, name characters by their job or role in the script (e.g. "THE SOLDIER"), but have other characters address them by their given names.


The players take the part of a hand-picked team of experts on Gilbert Bright. They have 15-30 minutes to reconstruct the sequence of the pages and write in the missing words.

Then they must read through the play, using appropriate props if possible, and be judged by an "eminent critic". Add to the pressure by videoing their performance and encouraging bystanders to watch.

Have them make up a title for the piece on the spot when the critic arrives.

Stress to the players that the critic must never know about the shuffled pages debacle - the read-through must keep flowing at all costs.


The critic/moderator 'reviews' the performance based on how convincing it is as a piece of theatre, or how amusing the results were, depending on personal taste.

If playing the game more than once in the event, write up the star ratings and play titles with brief capsule reviews.

Example script

Note that the nonsense passage in this script was covered with a train ticket in the photocopies handed out to the players.


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Download ToA script final.pdf
Written by Holly Gramazio, based on a vague notion by Ben Henley


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Theatre of Alienation highlights - Sandpit #12
ToA group 1 - "A Doctor Calls" - Sandpit #12
ToA group 2 - "The Letter About The Button" - Sandpit #12

Play history

Theatre of Alienation premiered at Sandpit #12 at the Soho Theatre, in June 2009.