Role play is a training methodology that has its underlying principle, ‘learning by doing’. It was a technique used by training experts in defense, industry, business management and government. Role playing may be defined as a method of human interactions that involves realistic behavior in imaginary situations. It refers to having the group members act out a situation with the help of one another. Thus it entails a realistic enactment of a role in an imagined situation.
When we are young, we learn by mimicking, playing, and experimentation.
In group work situation role play has three primary purposes:
1. Assess the members’ skill when responding to an interpersonal situation.
2. Help the members to improve particular responses by receiving feedback, rehearsing a new response
3. Enable the members to acquire knowledge and awareness about different personal, familial, group and social situations and analyse them.
How to design a role play?
I. Keep in view:
1. The objective to be achieved – the problem, the case
2. Number of role players – define their roles, allot roles, fix up responses of non-acting members
3. Duration – not beyond 30 minutes followed by analysis which can be maximum 75-90 minutes
II. Implementation – actual role play
1. Select the role players – choose suitably – age, experience, skills, background
2. Distribute the background material of the play or discuss the situation with the players a few hours or a day before the play.
3. Ask the audience 1. not to interfere or participate , 2. Note the manner and content of the players, 3. Observe silence during the play
III. Post-play discussion
1. Each role player’s experience – how he expected to do, if they were achieved and other observations
2. Observers speak
3. Trainer explains – if self understanding took place among the role players and audience, if the play was done well – realistic assuming of roles, behavior of the audience

Types of procedure
I. Structured : Use pre-determined scripts and members are called to act out the prescribed roles wherein the role players and observers learn to handle situations found important by the trainer
II. Unstructured : Open-ended and developmental where the participants are given a theme or situation and left free to act out in their own way –
1. Own role (member uses his /her experiences and plays the protagonist(main character), other roles are played by auxiliaries, other members, who may represent persons, feelings, thoughts or objects. This is useful to assess a member’s interpersonal skills, allow worker and others to observe how the member acts in a particular situation, help members to learn new behavior patterns. Supportive techniques such as soliloquy (stop the play and act the actor to disclose feelings, enter into monologue that discloses indepth feelings), on-the-spot interview or doubling(use an auxiliary group member or members to act as the alter-ego(another self) or inner voice of the protagonist wherein one person may speak for different parts of the inner self (divided double) or different actors speak for different aspects(multiple double)
2. Role reversal : Group member acts as a protagonist by taking on the role of another person like the role of a spouse wherein the protagonist is enabled to experience the situation from another’s point of view, learn empathy, clarify situation and gain self awareness. Later reverse the role.
3. Auto drama, mono drama, chairing – a procedure in which the member plays multiple roles.
4. Sculpting and choreography

Role play simulation aims to revive the ease and joy of experiential learning.
Role play simulation models human interactions (allowing the players to role play) in a constructed environment by:
1. creating an artificial social structure (or simulating some known social structure)
2. enforcing the social structure
3. providing plausible scenarios for players to respond, react and enrole to.
Role-play also has applications in forecasting. One forecasting method is to simulate the condition(s) being studied. Some experts in forecasting have found that role-thinking for producing inaccurate forecasts unless groups act as protagonists (an advocate or champion of a particular cause or idea.) in their interactions with one another.
Think back to the last time you prepared for an important meeting. Perhaps you needed to convince a prospective client to do business with your organization. Or maybe you had to present to executive board members, and you knew that they would be peppering you with questions about your proposal. Whatever the situation, chances are that you were nervous about the meeting; and practicing in front of a mirror may not have helped you overcome your anxiety, especially with respect to answering difficult questions.
This is where role-playing can be useful. In this article, we'll look at what role-play is, and we'll see how you and your team can use this technique to prepare for a variety of challenging and difficult situations.
How to Use Role Playing
It is easy to set up and run a role-playing session. It will help to follow the five steps below.
Step 1: Identify the Situation
To start the process, gather people together, introduce the problem, and encourage an open discussion to uncover all of the relevant issues. This will help people to start thinking about the problem before the role-play begins.
If you're in a group and people are unfamiliar with each other, consider doing some icebreaker exercises beforehand.
Step 2: Add Details
Next, set up a role-playing scenario in enough detail for it to feel "real." Make sure that everyone is clear about the problem that you're trying to work through, and that they know what you want to achieve by the end of the session.
Step 3: Assign Roles
Once you've set the scene, identify the various fictional characters involved in the scenario. Some of these may be people who have to deal with the situation when it actually happens (for example, salespeople). Others will represent people who are supportive or hostile, depending on the scenario (for example, an angry client).
Once you've identified these roles, allocate them to the people involved in your role-play exercise; they should use their imagination to put themselves inside the minds of the people that they're representing. This involves trying to understand their perspectives, goals, motivations, and feelings when they enter the situation.
Step 4: Act Out the Scenario
Each person can then assume their role, and act out the situation, trying different approaches where necessary.
It can be useful if the scenarios build up in intensity. For instance, if the aim of your role-play is to practice a sales meeting, the person playing the role of the potential client could start as an ideal client, and, through a series of scenarios, could become increasingly hostile and difficult. You could then test and practice different approaches for handling situations, so that you can give participants experience in handling them.
Step 5: Discuss What You Have Learned
When you finish the role-play, discuss what you've learned, so that you or the people involved can learn from the experience.
For example, if you're using role-play as part of a training exercise, you could lead a discussion on the scenarios you have explored, and ask for written summaries of observations and conclusions from everyone who was involved.

Further Tips
Some people feel threatened or nervous when asked to role-play, because it involves acting. This can make them feel silly, or that they've been put on the spot.
To make role-playing less threatening, start with a demonstration. Hand two "actors" a prepared script, give them a few minutes to prepare, and have them act out the role-play in front of the rest of the group. This approach is more likely to succeed if you choose two outgoing people, or if you're one of the actors in the demonstration.
Another technique for helping people feel more comfortable is to allow them to coach you during the demonstration. For instance, if you're playing the role of a customer service representative who's dealing with an angry customer, people could suggest what you should do to make things right.
1. Provides a protected environment before attempting a new response outside the group (EG: How to ask for donations, salespersons, conflict management, interviews, emotional situations) and thus improve communication and responses
2. Therapeutic : As in sociodrama or psychodrama developed by Moreno, catharsis, ventilation of feelings to ‘let off the steam’ and relieve tensions
3. Interpersonal problems can be handled by indirectly listening to others describe how to behave in a situation, vicariously(imagined participation) by watching what others do or say, directly by repeating and practicing new behaviours.
4. Provides opportunity for individuals to develop insights as they place themselves in another’s shoes and to understand them better as they assume another’s personality
5. Promotes attitudinal change as it enables to examine personal attitudes, feelings and behaviour
6. Easy to plan, but needs skill in application
7. Encourages psychological involvement of the individual and the group
8. Establishes a common experience which can be used as a basis for discussion and to focus dramatically upon a single, concrete facet of any problem
9. Flexible
10. Releases inhibitions and provides greater freedom of expression
11. Enhances participation
12. Informal
13. Permits experimentation
14. Can liven up the audience and stimulate discussion
15. The group can analyse others’ view points, dramatise alternative solutions and reach a consensus
16. To probe more deeply into a subject than other conventional methods permit.
17. A good variation - ‘lot of fun’
1. Some may be too self conscious to act freely
2. Less effective before large audience
3. Role play is a means to an end

• Spontaneity is an important element. Too rigid structuring may spoil the effect
• Where Deep feelings are involved the group maturity and conducive environment is important.

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