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Ten of the best drama stimuli for devised theatre

Looking for inspirational devising stimuli for this term? We asked a range of drama teachers to share their tried and tested stimuli which they use for GCSE level and above. Here's what they shared...

1) Windrush Images & Props

In Verbatim theatre style - Personal accounts related to Windrush and images of contents of suitcases from that context including personal items. It was successful as it was tailored towards a cohort with personal stories to tell of their own family's migration and also the images led to quick character creation to get them working practically quickly.”

- Katie, Head of Drama

2) #MeToo Movement

At A Level, students produced some sensitive and insightful work using a statement made by Kara Delavigne about Harvey Weinstein during the #MeToo movement. At GCSE, the Nike videos about women in sport prompted an awful lot of discussion.”

- Carly, Head of Drama

3) Martin Stranka Photographs

Martin Stranka's photographs are a fantastic stimulus to use, especailly his 'I Found Silence' collection. Take a look:

4) Sweat Shops

An image of a sweat shop. This leads to discussion around workers rights, slavery, working conditions, fast fashion, the environment etc and can spark some really interesting debate. I have also used this to devise physical theatre as it links well to the machine; they can each make a movement or sound and become part of the machine in an industrial way and metaphorically. This works well because they all have an opinion on clothes, whether they love fashion and experimenting with fashion to 'I don't see why people make such a big deal out of clothes' they each have some kind of opinion which they can bring to the table.”

- Rosie, Drama ECT

5) Political Speeches

I've found using political speeches generates a lot of passionate responses - Donald Trump was a gift! But also the remarks made recently about the poor needing to be taught how to cook instead of relying on foodbanks, inflammatory speeches like that one can be great.

Song lyrics, especially if they tell a story - Eduqas recently used 'Seven Years' which literally tells the story of a life, so for lower ability students they already have an inbuilt structure which they can follow and then expand on.”

- Kerry, Head of Drama

6) Props & Costumes

“Each week I would place a different item in the centre of the space e.g mens brogues, a locket necklace, newspaper with headlines showing, a mirror. On the ppt would be a set of questions e.g who does this item belong to, why, when, where, Each student would silently answer each question, recording their answers on paper. This may lead onto monologues, improvisations, forum theatre.”

- Amanda, Head of Drama

7) Artist Imranovi

“Images by artist Imranovi such as Mannequinn because he uses objects to create them- so good for designers as well as performers and can be interpreted in different ways.”

- Rebekah, Head of Drama

8) The Poem 'Hollow' by Elissa Soave.

“I have used this with an A Level Performing Arts class. I know that the topic is quite ‘stereotypical’ but the class responded very well and came up with an outstanding piece of theatre.”

- Tanya, Head of Performing Arts

9) The Song 'I Will I Swear' by Sleep

Prompted some beautiful physical theatre around sleep, insomnia, mental health. Also worked well with pillows!”

- Tiff, Teacher of Drama

10) The Seven Deadly Sins

“So far, Seven Deadly Sins - so much scope for a range of stimuli under the heading, also encouraged students to think outside of the box, as well as lending itself to a helpful possible structure of their piece. The work created really ranged so it didn't feel like we were watching the same piece over and over.”

- Rachel, Head of Drama


Thank you for all the drama teachers who shared these ideas in Rob Otton's Devising Webinar in 2022. They are a rich source of inspiration for other drama teachers.

Please visit our free Resource Library for more inspiration and resources on devised theatre and nearly 150 free resources for drama teachers:

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