Object transformation is becoming increasingly common in student performances today.
Popularised by Polish theatre practitioner Jerzy Grotowski in the 1970s, the transformation of props into other objects can be very effective if the technique is applied well.
Grotowski was concerned both with the transformation of objects and objects being used as items of great significance. Hence, symbolism can play an important role.
Object transformation is closely linked to the study and practice of non-realistic (or non-naturalistic) theatre forms.
Activity: grab a collection of objects/props and place them on a table before students in the Drama classroom. Each student chooses an object without consultation with other classmates. Small groups are then randomly created by the teacher. Each group dicussses commonalities between the objects (for example, how could a broom, a small rubber tyre and a whistle coexist together in a scene?). Students improvise a short scene where each object is first used as what it actually is (eg. a small tyre), then transformed logically into two more objects (eg. the tyre is first used as part of a tricycle for a circus entertainer, who then uses it as a a barbell and then once successfully lifted, it becomes a huge muscle on the arm of the circus performer). Once all objects are transformed twice, view scenes for discussion.
Extension activity: like Grotowski did, get students to make objects items of great significance (beyond the literal – ie. symbols).