Status and Playing Cards

One of my favourite drama lessons is to explain status to kids. Ie the  King has the highest status and the peasant has the lowest. I often explain it using the metaphor of the hotel. the hotel owner is at the top of the tree, there’s the general manager under the owner theres the head of staff, right down to the apprentice washing dishes in the kitchen. As Im taking about this i give out playing cards and blutack. I ask the kids not to look at the card and stick the bullock on the back of the card and stick the card to their head so only everyone else can see the card you have. Then I tell the group that if you have a King, you are the highest status person in the room and if you have an ace you are the lowest (this isn't my invention by the way I have adapted it from somewhere else)

I ask the students to stand up and walk around the room with the playing cards stuck to their heads and watch how people treat you and treat others according the the status emblazoned on their foreheads.  Then after a couple of minutes of mirth I ask the participants to form a line- the King at one end and the ace at the other and everyone else chronologically inbetween. Then ill ask various kids what number they think they might be and why. There’s always much gold in the responses. “He would even talk to me” “ she bowed when she met me” “She asked me to clean her shoes.”


The group learn pretty quickly where they stand and the line is usually pretty accurate. When i say look at your card there is a collective “Ohhhhhhhh!”. Its fun to choose one person usually  wearing one of the extreme cards say a king and have that person walk into the room as if for the first time. You can teach so much from this.  You would never touch someone of that status, never woo and yell. You would be reverent, careful, you wouldn't make too much noise. Status is an important part of teaching drama and really hard to teach. But that exercise is really powerful.