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Group Practice: Out of Character

Illustration by Ronja Polzin —
Illustration by Ronja Polzin — roevardotter.de/

Each player finds ways they are afraid of being seen. The group then agrees to support each other in trying on those "out of character" selves and reflecting on the experience.

Step 1 — A brainstorm
Step 2 — Find the »scary opposites« of the list above
Step 3 — Play the game
Step 4 — Journal and Share

Watch out for these common mistakes

  • Try to be as specific about your »scary opposite« as you can. The most illuminating phrases will make your heart beat faster and your stomach turn.
  • It's best to act from actual impulses. Play-acting is okay if nothing genuine comes up... e.g., if your word is sexist and no sexist thoughts or impulses emerge. Longer formats allow people to be more naturally out of character.
  • Don't criticize people for their Out of Character behavior. They already know what is bad about it. Focus on what they might not see: What is good about it?
  • Remind people to use common sense: don't touch people, break laws, or damage property unless the group consents to those boundaries beforehand.
  • Be gentle with yourself; it's not a competition.

Examples of Good and Bad Use

BAD EXAMPLES

  • I try to be seen as wild because I don't want anyone to think I'm normal. This doesn't define the scary opposite well. Try something more specific like boring or stupid—an image of yourself that would make you anxious to hear or believe.
  • I try to be seen as wild because I don't want anyone to think I'm stupid. (The player makes jokes about how stupid they are during the out of character round). This also isn't very specific, and what's worse, the player doesn't lean into the fear... try to actually be seen as stupid.

GOOD EXAMPLES

  • I try to be seen as caring because I don't want anyone to think I'm shallow, like someone who judges people based on appearances 😱 This is a good formulation of a because it names a specific »scary opposite« (internalized social fear).
  • I try to be seen as interesting because I can't stand to think I'm a person who really just doesn't get what is going on in their surroundings 😱 (During the out of character round, the player makes slow moaning sounds, and looks around with blank confusion in his eyes). This player will definitely discover what he might be missing by avoiding his social fears. In this case, one thing he found was a kind of relaxed embodiment.

A Variation

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Game: 👺 Out of Character w. Ideological Commitments