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Group-Think is a hybrid sports - and educational programme that seeks to expand the current formal educational programme at schools by implementing training techniques in nonviolent civil protest, first aid, and collective intelligence skills.

Published onOct 25, 2020

1. Group-Think

Group-Think is a hybrid sports/educational programme by Danish artist Stine Marie Jacobsen that seeks to expand the current formal educational programme at schools by implementing training techniques in nonviolent civil protest, first aid, and collective intelligence skills. 

This educational programme, which could be implemented as part of a sports, art, or other class involving physical activity, consists of a series of exercises that stimulate collective intelligence, patience, preparedness, good reflexes, violence prevention, urban resilience, verbal negotiation, responsibility, resistance, coping strategies, first aid, and group safety in protest gatherings.

Group-Think supports young people’s discussions and concerns about social and educational inequality by creating a sports platform that strives to strengthen their individual and collective political consciousness, as well as deepen the public’s understanding of what young people, collectives, and protest stakeholders need. 

As an addition to current sports programmes in schools, Group-Think seeks to introduce a creative sports programme with exercises that connect individual and group minds in order to heighten solidarity, improvisation, and thinking skills. Group-Think aims at preparing young people to take care of themselves and others through collective actions. By training students in collective intelligence, solidarity, resilience, self-care and community-care, they’ll be able to better protect each other in mass gatherings.

Group-Think would like to create a positive image about mass intelligence. In 1895, Gustave Le Bon wrote in The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind that decisions in groups are often made too quickly and are too consensus-oriented and irrational. In his 1972 book Victims of Groupthink, the social psychologist Irving L. Janis coined the term ‘groupthink’, which also had negative connotations. It is actually a very loaded term, describing both an instinctive and rationalized conformity that humans are prone to fall (and fail) into. But when it comes to the right to assemble and to think and express opinions freely and openly in public, this term articulates values, reaction, and politics of the commons and of the people. The idea of thinking and acting together challenges the notion of individuality that is so ingrained in our culture and proposes that we rehearse better and more robust ways of navigating and preserving space for collectives and collectivity.

Group-Think reclaims this word (with a dash) as a potential for civic action against injustice and regards this ‘fast decision-making’, ‘consensus-seeking’ and ‘irrationality’ in a group as a way to achieve safety in protest. By training these group processes, the exercises challenge the idea of the individual (leader-hero) as the focal point and instigator of action. When a huge mass of people decides to take to the street, it is never a sole individual initiating this. In these exercises there are no ‘winners’ or ‘losers’, as in normal sports activities; rather, they introduce the students to the idea of the individual as a colony of microbes. Here, the individual body is regarded as a cell that thinks, moves, and acts much more strongly when connected with others – as part of a larger whole. Singular cells exhibit great adaptive and collaborative behaviour in colonies of like or unlike cells and communicate via chemical signalling that influences colony structures. Especially in uncertain and stressful situations, making fast decisions with many others can be crucial. Similarly to cell colonies, the students learn in Group-Think to tune into each others’ impulses, weaknesses, and senses in order to ultimately reflect, strengthen, and develop their own chemical and physical signals.

This book is aimed at both educators and teenagers. All exercises are open-source, and educators and students are encouraged to use them as inspiration for continuous development. The exercises contain questions to engage students and are meant as guiding proposals that can (and should) be continually developed. It is more important to have a good conversation about the exercise than attempt to reach a final agreement. The aim of the training is to rehearse inhabiting ‘crowd bodies’ and explore their potential.

This book is also meant to activate young people in developing their own collective strategies, so after educators have explained and demonstrated the exercises, they should encourage the groups to do the exercises by themselves without any further guidance. In other words, they should avoid frontal teaching.

Use the exercises as a menu to pick and choose from. You can tailor your own program and start with a simple exercise from INTRO and BREATH and then continue to more complex exercises from BODY. The AID and § chapters are informational, and the book ends with a summary scenario exercise in END.

Seeking to create a more positive image of mass intelligence, the following exercises may be continuously developed and practiced by you, the readers. 

2. Sync

Stand in a circle and count ‘1, 2, 3, 1, 2, …’ alternating between participants. Keep the rhythm. When you have found a good sense of collective rhythm, replace ‘2’ with a clap. Then replace ‘3’ with a stomp. Then replace ‘1’ with a shout. 

Variation I: Before starting this exercise, ask everyone to close their eyes, trust each other, work together, and listen to each other without looking.

Variation II: Form a group and face the same direction while rotating. The idea is to move like a wave: Look in front of you and copy the person/persons you see.

Variation III: Circle around yourselves.

Aim: If you are ever in a big gathering and panic ensues, walking together in sync while counting and retreating can help prevent a stampede. In 2019, protestors in Hong Kong were observed counting while retreating. 

Duration: 30 minutes
Number of participants: 5 to 50 

Context: See Augusto Boal’s 1992 book entitled Games for Actors and Non-Actors, 1992.

Feedback: What do you think about the exercise? Would you change anything?

3. Lift

Stand in a circle holding hands. One person throws an inflated balloon into the middle of the circle. The goal is to keep it airborne for as long as possible using hands, arms, heads, shoulders, chests, or knees, but NOT  feet. All students should continue to hold hands throughout the exercise. 

Variation: Add more balloons and use only participants’ breath to keep the balloons airborne.

Aim: For this to be effective, everyone needs to work cooperatively: Each participant must make sure to not let go of their neighbour’s hands. You will quickly understand that you must all move together as a circle to ensure that you do not allow the balloon to fall to the ground. The same sense of collective movement can also be important in a protest or other mass gathering: to move together and imagine that you have to carry and move something together as a crowd, such as a body or an emergency kit.

Duration: 30 minutes

Number of participants: 5 to 50 

Material: Balloons

Context: This exercise originates perhaps in the Mayan Ballgame, or Tlachtli, where players were not allowed to use their hands. (In Tlachtli, the aim was to shoot a ball through a stone hoop at one end of a court.) Some ballgames were played to arbitrate between enemies, but the Maya also saw this game as a battle between the gods of life and death. 

Feedback: What do you think about the exercise? Would you change anything?

4. Inner Map 

Form smaller groups and draw an ‘inner body map’ together: One person lies down on a large piece of white paper, and another person marks the body’s contour. Now fill out the contour, inside the body, with things that you think are important to protest for or against. Talk as you draw together, although you don’t necessarily have to agree with one another. Don’t use words, just colours and figures, because they better approximate the language of the body itself.

Variation: Either lie down with arms and legs spread out or strike a ‘political floor pose’. 

Aim: This exercise is a playful and creative way to brainstorm or map which emotions and political topics are present within a group. 

Duration: 60 minutes

Number of participants: small groups of 5 and up to however many small groups you can manage

Material: You can buy cheap white paper rolls and black markers in hardware stores. Cut the paper to fit the length of the person.

Context: This exercise may derive from the Alexander Technique (1890s–), which promotes an awareness of the body while in action in order to correct bad movements and move more efficiently. Mapping your body can help you understand it as a source of information. It’s about paying attention to what your body is saying, because it speaks a language that is different from speech.

Feedback: What do you think about the exercise? Would you change anything?

5. Breath

Talk to the students about how important breathing is. Breathing is the key to feeling calm and focused. Breathing is like massaging yourself inside. When you are upset, anxious, or stressed, try this simple breathing exercise and repeat it four times: Breathe in through your nose, hold the breath, and count to 7; then exhale through your mouth while counting to 8. 

Aim: This exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system, helping to reduce tension and allowing the body to relax, so it’s good at times of anxiety and fear.

Duration: 5 to 10 minutes

Number of participants: 1 to as many as you can manage

Context: The 4-7-8 breathing technique is based on pranayama, an ancient Indian practice that means ‘regulation of breath’.

Feedback: What do you think about the exercise? Would you change anything?

6. Breathing Pile

This is a simple collective breathing exercise. Lie down on the floor, so that everyone has their head on someone’s stomach. Close your eyes and register the other person’s breathing, while you yourself breathe naturally. Then shift your focus from your own breathing to that of the other person. Just stay there on the ground and do nothing but breathe in and out together.

Aim: This exercise teaches you to be silent together and to calm yourself down by feeling your own breathing in sync with that of others. We naturally breathe using our abdomen, but when we get stressed and tense, we automatically switch to chest breathing. Practising breathing through our abdomen relaxes your nervous system (as opposed to breathing through the chest) and has a calming effect in moments of stress, panic, or anxiety. 

Duration: 15 to 20 minutes

Number of participants: 2 to as many as you can manage

Context: Yoga and yogic breathing originate from ancient breathing practice in the Vedic Sanskrit of the Rigveda, written around 1500 BCE. Practising being silent at a protest (and just being present) has become a growing tendency amongst protestors due to restrictions on and criminalisation of the right to assemble in many countries. 

Feedback: What do you think about the exercise? Would you change anything?

7. Be Like a Balloon

Let the air out like a balloon and make an S sound as you exhale. 

See who can keep it the longest. 

Aim: This exercise will train your voice to become louder. When you let the air out slowly, you control and train your diaphragm, a thin muscle that separates the abdomen and the chest, contracting and flattening when you breathe in and out.

Variation: Stand in a circle holding hands and launch an imaginary balloon. One after the other, each person points to another student in the circle they want to send the balloon to while uttering the words ‘zip,’ ‘zap’ and ‘bang.’ ‘Zip’ means the balloon can only move right or left within the circle while ‘zap’ means it should cross the circle in the middle. ‘Bang’ makes the balloon go back to the sender. Everyone puts their hands forwards and bounces the balloon back and forth to each other while saying these words. We must try to react quickly, without thinking. 

Duration: 5 to 10 minutes

Number of participants: 1 to as many as you can manage

Context: Yoga and yogic breathing originate from ancient breathing practice in the Vedic Sanskrit of the Rigveda, written around 1500 BCE.

Feedback: What do you think about the exercise? Would you change anything?

8. Diagonals

Walk around the room in diagonals, to whatever tempo you feel like.

When you reach a wall, turn around and walk straight ahead with firm steps.

When you encounter someone else, embrace each other and take a deep breath: Inhale through the nose and exhale through a big open mouth, emptying all the air from the body. Then continue.

Aim: In this exercise, you ‘reward’ yourself with a deep calming breath whenever you are in close contact with another body. It can seem a bit intimidating for people who don’t know each other, but it’s a good way to make the group acknowledge (and breathe with) one another.

Duration: 15 to 20 minutes

Number of participants: 5 to as many as you can manage

Context: A mix of yogic breathing and contemporary dance

Feedback: What do you think about the exercise? Would you change anything?

9. Yes / No

One person asks the other person as many questions as possible and as quickly as possible without any pauses. The person being asked is not allowed to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or to nod or shake their head to signal either word. Ask, for example, the person about their day. ‘Did you have breakfast? Do you like coffee?’ Try to ask yes-no questions to test the other person’s ability to resist the urge to only answer with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’.

Aim: This is a simple warm-up game to train people to use and build arguments and speak in longer sentences instead of just saying ‘yes’ and ‘no,’ especially during stressful situations.

Duration: 15 to 20 minutes

Number of participants: 2 up to as many as you can manage 

(This exercise is an exception to the other big group exercises as it is meant for two people.) 

Context: At a speedy interrogation in the street (stop and frisk) or at a border control, you may need to be good at answering with clear sentences.

Feedback: What do you think about the exercise? Would you change anything? What did the other person tell you? Make a short cartoon with speech bubbles.

10. Suspense

First, fill up a third of a plastic bottle with water and put it on your head and briefly practice balancing the bottle while talking. Then form a line. The first person in line comes up with a message and whispers it into the ear of the second person in line. That person then whispers it to the next and so on. When the sentence reaches the end of the line or the first person again, say it aloud to see if it has changed from the original sentence.

Variation: You can also try to send two sentences from each end of the line or from each side of a circle.

Aim: This exercises shows how easily information can become corrupted by indirect communication. The dissemination of messages among many people can be a good active listening exercise for crowd situations, where you might have to give clear messages to a lot of other people. Errors typically accumulate when one retells stories, so the statement announced by the last person in line usually differs a great deal from the original. 

Duration: 30 to 60 minutes

Number of participants: Groups of 8 to 50

Context: Telephone game (it has many different names depending on the locale; in Marseille it is usually called Arabic telephone). The first print reference to the game appeared in the English newspaper The Guardian in 1964, but perhaps it is a variation of exquisite corpse: a practice invented by the Surrealists in 1925 where participants create a collective drawing or text on a paper that is folded to hide previous fragments.

Material: Please recycle plastic bottles! Use old ones!

Feedback: What do you think about the exercise? Would you change anything?

11. Pin The Tail

Do you know the game Pin the Tail on the Donkey, where a blindfolded person has to pin the tale onto a drawing of a donkey? Well, this exercise is similar, just done collectively: Tell group members to cluster together: The person in the middle plays the key part, while the rest of the group act as hands. The key has to lead the hands to unlock an imaginary door located somewhere in the room. But except for the key, everyone in the group is blindfolded and not allowed to talk to each other. They also do not know who the key is, so they have to wait and follow the movement of this person.

Variation: Spin the blindfolded group around before the key starts moving the hands.

Aim: To move safely together in groups when visibility is poor (due to smoke or teargas, for example) 

Duration: 30 minutes

Number of participants: 5 or more

Context: Inspired by the popular children’s game Pin the Tail on the Donkey, created by Charles Zimmerling in 1899.

Material: Blindfolds (Buy cheap, opaque fabric strips.)

Feedback: What do you think about the exercise? Would you change anything? 

12. Banner

Decide where to hang an imaginary banner. You cannot speak or make signs to each other to decide where to hang it or what it will say. Just imagine for yourself what it says. You do not have to make the banner, just mimic hanging it. Take your time and really move as far away as possible from your starting point and walk as slowly as possible. Don’t rush. After you have hung the imaginary poster, reveal to the group what your personal banner would say. And then you can decide if you want to draw a banner together or not. It can be an odd, but very valuable, group experience to rely solely on your physical energies to communicate with each other – and surprisingly, that will actually eventually lead you towards collective action.

Aim: Reversing the process of banner-making so that each person can better imagine their individual banners. This exercise is not meant to create similar banners – on the contrary. It is most likely that people will have very different ideas of what the banner should say, and this exercise is not about agreeing on one banner slogan but, instead, understanding that you can protest together without agreeing 100 per cent. Your body energies will lead you to the action that you all (unconsciously) want to do. Older protestors feel that contemporary political gatherings have become streamlined and say that in past protests one would see many more diverse slogans.

Duration: 30 to 60 minutes

Number of participants: 5 or more

Context: Inspired by ritual burying (read, for example, about the mystic Gurdjieff’s ideas) and/or somatic exercising, which builds a person’s awareness of their external environments versus their internal sensations. 

Material: White paper roll

Feedback: What do you think about the exercise? Would you change anything? Discuss as a group how you think your bodies communicated with each other. Did someone push more than others? Did people start ‘cheating’ and use facial expressions? If so, what were the gestures like?

13. Swarm

Warm up: Strike a pose! Without talking, players pretend to walk or play in a city. You can do anything, like playing ball, walking, lying down, group hugging, climbing a tree, exploring, and so on. After a few minutes, decide to copy somebody else’s actions. Always make sure you can see at least one of the others.

Variation: Decide whom you want to copy. When you have tried this exercise a few times and become acquainted with copying, then expand it and practise dispersion: Form within your copying group a composition that moves forwards and backwards: a circle, a triangle, a square, a star, and so on. At a given signal (handclap, etc.) the composition must be deconstructed very quickly and you return to your ‘normal’ city actions and disperse around the space. No one should be left alone; a minimum of two participants should be doing the same city act and formation.

Aim: This exercise is good for practising and developing different dispersion techniques in crowds.

Duration: 30 to 60 minutes

Number of participants: This is most fun with a class, or with 12 or more people.

Context: Swarm intelligence, collective behaviour of decentralized, self-organized systems, natural or artificial. 

Feedback: Who decides? How do you decide? What are the final actions? If we play it again, were there repetitions in what the majority liked? Did groups form? What did you think about the exercise? Would you change anything?

14. The Movement Strikes Back

Stand in a circle or line. One person begins a repetitive action (a rhythmic tap or squeeze or whatever) on the shoulder of the person ahead of them, who must then repeat exactly the same thing on the next person, and so on, until the motion returns to its originator. At this point, it becomes clear how the original action has mutated. 

Variation: When the group has gotten used to the exercise, the originator can begin to change the rhythm by adding more gestures and sending them around the circle in both directions.

Aim: This exercise shows how easily information can become corrupted by indirect communication. 

Duration: 20 to 30 minutes

Number of participants: 8 or more

Context: Telephone game and exquisite corpse as described in exercise 10; suspense and Games for Actors and Non- Actors (1992) by Augusto Boal

Feedback: What do you think about the exercise? Would you change anything?

15. The Image Strikes Back

Stand in a line with your back to one another. The first person in line makes a simple drawing (e.g. a heart, smiley, or boat) on paper (or a similar medium) and folds it so that nobody sees it. Then, using only one finger, this person repeats the drawing on the back of the person in front of them. The last person makes the drawing with a marker on a paper so that at the end, the two drawings can be compared. Take turns so that many participants can try making the drawings. 

Variation: When everyone has gotten used to this exercise, you can expand by having one person draw something into the air in front of the rest of the group. This must be done with very slow movements to make it possible for people to follow and guess what it is and then make their own drawings. 

Aim: This exercises shows how easily information can become corrupted by indirect communication. Tip: It makes it easier to track the finger drawing if you don’t lift your finger. 

Duration: 20 to 30 minutes

Number of participants: 8 or more 

Context: Telephone game and exquisite corpse as described in exercise 10; suspense and Games for Actors and Non- Actors (1992) by Augusto Boal

Feedback: What do you think about the exercise? Would you change anything? What movements were being sent around? Which gesture did you prefer and why? What did you think about the exercise when it was a drawing and not a gesture? Would you change anything?

16. Wall 

Everyone stands in a long line with their backs against the wall and then begin walking in a line. With each step, inhale and exhale slowly. Move forwards very slowly, following the micro-movements of the others. Set the pace according to the slowest participant. As soon as someone moves out of sync with the others, everyone must return to the wall and start all over again. Do this exercise as slowly as possible. 

Variation I: Try moving forwards and backwards and, most importantly, moving very slowly while counting ‘1, 2, 3, …’ together, breathing out loudly together or developing other ways to move slowly as a collective.

Variation II: Tie your shoelaces together and try moving around, first in groups of three and then in larger groups.

Aim: One of the greatest risks of injury or death in a crowd arises from the dangers of a stampede. The possibility of the crowd panicking and stampeding is high. This exercise is about moving forwards, but also backwards, in an orderly retreat to avoid danger and collision.

Duration: 30 minutes

Number of participants: 5 or more 

Context: Buddhist walking meditation

Feedback: What did you think about the exercise? Would you change anything? 

Draw the wall to look like a person, animal, or another living being. Did you feel like you belonged to the wall? How did it feel to move so slowly with many others? How do you think the wall would look were it a person, animal, or other living being?

17. Hand Signals

Create signals that you can use to communicate with others in a mass gathering from a distance. What do you think is needed and important to be communicated besides the regular ‘stop’ (flat hand forward), ‘peace’ (fingers in a V-shape), ‘ok’ (thumbs-up), and so on? Perhaps try making a signal for ‘I’m hurt’, ‘I can’t move’, ‘I need help’ or whatever else you can think of. After you’ve created your signals, divide into two lines far apart from one another. One line makes signals while the other guesses them (recording them on paper). Then change so that everyone has the opportunity to both invent new signals and guess those of others.

Variation I: Resume exercise 14 or 15. A student makes a hand signal, and the others must quickly repeat it so that the original gesture becomes a collective gesture, visible and understandable to the rest of the group.

Variation 2: Perform your hand signal as a body gesture so that your signalisation is more visible in a crowd and from far away.

Aim: To develop signals to communicate with when others cannot hear you

Duration: 60 minutes (for 25 students or less, depending on the size of the group)

Number of participants: 5 or more

Context: In 2019, protestors in Hong Kong were seen signalling for needs in waves across huge crowds. Hand signals were common in pre-modern wars and they often change meaning over time. For example, the V-signal was used in the Hundred Years’ War (1337–1453): English archers would signal a V to French enemies to show that they could still shoot, but if they were caught by the French they often got the index and middle fingers of their right hands chopped off.

Material: Pen and paper

Feedback: What do you think about of the exercise? Would you change anything? Prepare a graphic where you draw all the signals you made.

18. Debate

Write down several different topics you wish to discuss with the group (such as coal, guns, CO2, gender equality, teachers, homework, etc.) on pieces of paper spread on the floor. Now jump from one paper to the next and show the others if you are FOR or AGAINST the topic by making a hand signal. This exercise is actively using exercise 17: Hand Signals. This is a battle with hands, not words. Make up as many hand signals as you wish. The only rule is that two people can’t stand on one paper at the same time, so the hand debate must be paced according to the number of participants.

Aim: To learn to communicate with hand gestures

Duration: 30 to 60 minutes

Number of participants: 8 or more

Context: Communication through signals

Material: Paper and markers

Feedback: What do you think about the exercise? Would you change anything?

19. Slow Run

Try to become the slowest runner. Once the race has begun, the group must never stop moving, and every movement should be executed as slowly as possible. Each runner should take the largest possible step forward on every stride. As one foot moves in front of the other, it must pass above knee-level. Another rule is that both feet should never be on the ground at the same time: The moment the right foot lands, the left foot must rise and vice versa. One foot should remain on the ground at all times. 

Variation: In smaller groups, tie your shoes together and start walking around together in sync. You can use tape instead of shoelaces.

Aim: This exercise, which requires considerable equilibrium, stimulates all the muscles of the body and promotes a greater understanding of slowness as strength.

Duration: 20 to 30 minutes (depending on the distance)

Number of participants: This is most fun with an entire class or with 8 or more participants.

Context: Read the ‘Slow Motion’ exercise in Augusto Boal’s Games for Actors and Non-Actors (1992).

Feedback: What do you think about the exercise? Would you change anything? 

Make a drawing (without words) that explains the exercise.

20. (Un)wrestle

Everyone stands in a circle holding hands. One person is appointed ‘wrestler’ and moves outside of the circle so that they can’t see what’s happening inside the circle. Everyone in the circle should now weave their bodies together, stepping over or under each other while still holding hands. When the circle is tightly woven and nobody can move, everyone shouts, ‘Wrestler, wrestler, come help un-wrestle us’. The wrestler’s task is to bring the group back to its original circular form. Sometimes this succeeds; sometimes it’s impossible. Everyone must keep holding hands during the exercise.

Variation: Instead of holding the hand of the person next to you, everyone in the circle reaches their hand into the centre of the circle and grabs a few random hands – but never both hands of the same person.

Aim: To experience the feeling of imbalance but also support
Duration: 30 to 60 minutes

Number of participants: It’s most fun with 8 to 30 participants.

Context: This exercise is similar to a sit-in, where one or more individuals occupy an area to promote political, social, or economic change, refusing to move until their demands are met. Being able to tightly hold onto one another is a useful act of resistance.

Feedback: What do you think about the exercise? Would you change anything? 

21. Falling

Find a partner and stand close to each other on a soft floor. Face each other with closed eyes, but don’t touch. Stand silently together for a while and then start melting down to the floor by sharing your weight and leaning on each other. You may manage to get down to a sitting position by leaning on each other and then end up lying prostrate on the floor while maintaining physical contact. You must both share your weight during the slow fall by gently pushing and leaning onto the other person. Trust each other. 

Variations: Someone shouts ‘falling!’ and the other participants should help catch them and be really attentive. You can do this exercise with either open or closed eyes. Take a photograph of each other while you are falling. Try to catch the other person while they are still in the air, between standing and lying on the ground. 

Aim: This exercise is simply about practising and experiencing how to fall safely.

Duration: 30 minutes

Number of participants: 2

Context: The most important body part that you need to protect in a fall is your head, so turn as you fall. Keep arms and legs bent. Stay loose. Roll out of the impact. Spread out the force of the fall.

Feedback: What do you think about this falling exercise? Would you change anything? 

22. Divided

Divide the space you are in with chalk. Before you divide the space, discuss how you will divide it. Will you form groups or do it individually?

Variation: Use classrooms chairs and tables as well if available.

Aim: Experimenting with and negotiating different interests, needs, and intentions

Duration: 30 minutes

Number of participants: 8 or more 

Context: Betzavta method: ‘The art of dividing a pumpkin’. Betzavta is a training method taught by the Adam Institute for Democracy and Peace, founded in Jerusalem in 1986 to promote the language of democracy.

Feedback: What do you think about the exercise? Would you change anything?

23. Arrested

Decide who gets arrested and who is the arrestor. The arrestor leads the arrested person around with closed eyes and tells them when they can open their eyes and what they can see. The arrestor can also ask them to bend their knees, turn around, and use their voice to make sounds. Try not to practice this as an aggressive exercise or an exercise about submission. And try to not create a linguistic narrative from the beginning. Just choose to show them normal things that you also react to. Don’t overthink it. It’s important to be close to the centre of the other person – ask them if you may touch their waist, shoulder, and head. 

Aim: This indoor and outdoor exercise creates empathy and trust between two people. And it offers the possibility to experience a simulation of an arrest – a controlled and restricted space of moving.

Duration: 30 minutes

Number of participants: 2

Context: Imagine that someone is kidnapping you or leading you somewhere blindfolded and you can only see sporadically.

Feedback: What do you think about the exercise? Would you change anything? For example, is it good or bad that only one person leads at a time? Could you do this exercise in a big group? Make a video with your phone, re-enacting all the movements. 

24. Think-Body

Everybody is designated a body part – head, finger, foot, leg, or knee group. One person acts as the brain. The brain brings the body together by shouting out the body parts: The groups must position themselves in their right place. Once connected to each other as a full body, the groups must stick together. Now that the body is formed, the brain can make the body move by shouting, for example, ‘Finger touch foot!’ Remember, you are now part of a body, so you should stay alert and move in relation to the rest of the body as the part you’ve been designated.

Variation: A person proposes a simple movement: to jump, to lie down, or to walk. The body must follow these instructions by moving organically.

Aim: Coordination within groups

Duration: 30 to 60 minutes

Number of participants: 8 or more 

Context: Similar to the machine of rhythms exercise from Augusto Boal’s Games for Actors and Non-Actors (1992) or the five finger dispersion technique by the German protest group Ende Gelände (2017)

Feedback: What do you think about the exercise? Would you change anything? Make a group photograph where you pose as the body part appointed to you. Get your trainer to take the picture.

25. Push

Try to push and pull each other without touching. After a while, you can try to touch each other while pushing, but do it in very slow motion to understand the movement better. Don’t react, just experience it, and notice what happens inside of you. How do you feel when the other person is pushing and pulling you and you can’t react? And how does it feel to push and pull someone else? Be kind to each other and try to make this exercise as collaborative as possible.

Aim: To train radical patience when someone is trying to provoke you and get you to fight back

Duration: 30 minutes.

Number of participants: 8 or more

Context: Police officers have been observed pushing protestors in order to upset and anger them so that they become belligerent, which provides a pretext for their arrest.

Material: Make sure to do this exercise on soft mattresses.

Feedback: What do you think about the exercise? Would you change anything? Make it into a dance? What physical scenarios can you come up with? Try to eventually turn it into a dance choreography.

26. Louder Voice 

Here are some basic essential vocal training exercises that might make your voices louder:

  1. Stick your chest out and lengthen your torso so that your voice is stronger. 

  2. Keep your knees slightly bent. Inhale deeply into your diaphragm and while breathing out say ‘haaa’ together. 

  3. Vibrate your lips like a trumpet three times, on and off. Then do it for a longer time at a higher pitch. 

  4. Count from 1 to 5, starting out quietly and then getting louder without shouting. Count backwards from 5 to 1, decreasing your volume again. 

  5. Make a vroom sound (like a motorcycle).
    Sing the letters of a word through the line of people, so that the individual consonants sung together form the entire word – like a wave of hands (see example below).

  6. Shout a person’s name from afar in as relaxed a manner as possible, in order to learn not to strain your voice.

  7. Throw the balls while saying in a loud, low voice, ‘tic’, ‘tac’, ‘toc’. 

Aim: To make your voice louder

Exercise example: To sing the word ‘ball’ the first people in line sing ‘bbbbbb’ very slowly; the next ‘aaaaa’; and the last ones ‘llllll’, so that it sounds like they are all singing the word ‘ball’ together. When you get really good at this, you can practice doing it faster, and perhaps eventually everyone can sing the full word while remaining in sync.

Duration: 10 minutes per exercise

Number of participants: 5 or more 

Context: When you’re at a protest or mass gathering, it is sometimes important to use a loud voice so that people can hear you.

Feedback: What do you think about these voice exercises? Would you change anything? Try to invent a collective breathing exercise. Make a thirty-second to one-minute video breathing exercise about something you want to change or protest. You can inhale, exhale, hold your breath, hyperventilate, and so on.

27.  First Aid / Self-Care

Before participating in a protest, measure the risk of confrontation and check to see if the protest is legal or not. If the protest is illegal (see § and 29. Know your Rights), clashes are more likely. 

If you do find yourself in a confrontation, move away from it in a systematic manner. For example, if tear gas grenades are fired, quickly withdraw by taking streets or directions perpendicular to the direction of the tear gas grenade.

General Recommendations:

Bring water and drink plenty of water before going to a protest.

Document if you see anything bad happen.

Keep yourself and others calm and coherent.

Know what to do if you get separated from your friends.

Dealing with teargas: Wear a gas mask, goggles, a hat, sunglasses or a wet bandana (soaked in lemon juice or vinegar) over the nose and mouth (you can bring this in a plastic bag). Do not rub your eyes. Blow your nose, rinse your mouth, cough and spit. Try not to swallow. Do not wear contact lenses, but if you must, remove them with clean hands after exposure to the gas. Don’t use vaseline or oil-based lotion because they can trap chemicals. Don’t wear jewellery or other loose, hanging objects that can be easily grabbed.

Wear shoes you can run in and bring fresh clothes in case yours get contaminated.

(*Source: Safety During Protest by Amnesty International)

ABC, A=Airways, B=Breathing, and C=Circulation:


If a person is on the ground and is conscious: Ask the person where they are hurt and what happened. Do not, under any circumstances, move the person, but call the emergency services (fire brigade). 

Make sure the injured person’s airways are open. If something is stuck in their throats, try first to make them cough it out; if that doesn’t work, try to remove it with your finger (but be careful not to push the object deeper). Make sure that their chin is up so that their airways are straight and as much air as possible can enter. You can also learn how to administer the Heimlich manoeuvre: Make a fist and place it just above the navel, thumb-side in. Grab the fist with your other hand and push it inward and upward at the same time. Perform five of these abdominal thrusts. Repeat until the object is expelled and the person can breathe or cough on their own.


Is the person breathing? Can you communicate with them, or are they unconscious? It is crucial to never shake an injured person due to the risk of head/spinal injury and permanent paralysation. If the person seems unconscious, pinch them and then put them in a lateral safety position. To check if they’re breathing, press your lips to their cheek, see if their chest is moving up and down, or place two fingers on their wrists or neck to feel for a pulse. Call for help. If you think they’re not breathing, begin CPR right away.


CPR: Press 100 times per minute. Again, make sure their chin is up so that their airways are as open as possible. Fold your hands like this (image) or this (image) and start pushing: thirty pushes and then breathe into their mouth twice; repeat with thirty pushes and two rescue breaths, and so on. The pace is quick. Remember to close their nostrils with your fingers while administering rescue breaths.

If the person is bleeding, you must apply pressure to the wound. Use your hands, fingers, belts, or strips of clothing to stop the bleeding. If an arm or leg is bleeding heavily, you can tie a scarf or belt around it to stop the bleeding. If a main artery is bleeding and gushing out blood, you should not leave the person even for a few seconds, so ask someone else to call for help. Use clothing or blankets to support the injured area. Cover the injured person with a blanket, because they can quickly become cold. If someone is panicking, calmly ask them to sit down and slowly breathe in and out. You can also tell them to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth, which naturally slows down their breathing.

NATO position*: Bend the left arm and left leg and turn the person onto their side. This prevents the person from choking on blood, vomit, or other bodily fluids. Remember, if they hit their head or neck, you cannot move them under any circumstance!

Always make sure that someone calls for help. Even the assistance of a person without any training can be crucial to the final rescue outcome.

28. 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action

Nonviolent action shows law enforcement, the media, and the public that we are just claiming the right to exercise our opinion or show solidarity without weapons or objects that could harm others. Showing this, especially to the police and military, is important. 

It may be assumed that this peaceful attitude will solicit an equally peaceful response from police forces. This is not always the case, and we must be prepared for it: Protesters sitting or lying on the ground have experienced unrestrained police violence. Remember that on December 8, 2018, on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, a young yellow-vest protestor with bare hands and arms stretched out in surrender, facing the police, was still shot in the abdomen with a hard rubber bullet. In short, nonviolence is not a guarantee against police violence.

Never argue with or insult police officers in case of arrest. If the officers are aggressive or rude, the best defence against the police is silence. Just ask to exercise your rights.



Formal Statements 

1. Public speeches
2. Letters of opposition or support
3. Declarations by organizations and institutions 

4. Signed public statements
5. Declarations of indictment and intention
6. Group or mass petitions 

Communications with a Wider Audience 

7. Slogans, caricatures, and symbols
8. Banners, posters, and displayed communications 

9. Leaflets, pamphlets, and books
10. Newspapers and journals
11. Records, radio, and television
12. Skywriting and earthwriting 

Group Representations 

13. Deputations 

14. Mock awards 

15. Group lobbying 

16. Picketing
17. Mock elections 

Symbolic Public Acts 

18. Displays of flags and symbolic colours 

19. Wearing of symbols
20. Prayer and worship
21. Delivering symbolic objects 

22. Protest disrobings
23. Destruction of own property 

24. Symbolic lights
25. Displays of portraits
26. Paint as protest
27. New signs and names
28. Symbolic sounds
29. Symbolic reclamations
30. Rude gestures 

Pressures on Individuals 

31. ‘Haunting’ officials 

32. Taunting officials 

33. Fraternization
34. Vigils 

Drama and Music 

35. Humorous skits and pranks
36. Performances of plays and music 

37. Singing 


38. Marches
39. Parades
40. Religious processions 

41. Pilgrimages
42. Motorcades 

Honouring the Dead 

43. Political mourning
44. Mock funerals
45. Demonstrative funerals 

46. Homage at burial places 

Public Assemblies 

47. Assemblies of protest or support 

48. Protest meetings
49. Camouflaged meetings of protest 

50. Teach-ins 

Withdrawal and Renunciation 

51. Walk-outs
52. Silence
53. Renouncing honours 

54. Turning one’s back 


Ostracism of Persons 

55. Social boycott
56. Selective social boycott 

57. Lysistratic nonaction 

58. Excommunication
59. Interdict 

Noncooperation with Social Events, Customs, and Institutions 

60. Suspension of social and sports activities 

61. Boycott of social affairs
62. Student strike
63. Social disobedience 

64. Withdrawal from social institutions 

Withdrawal from the Social System 

65. Stay-at-home
66. Total personal noncooperation 

67. ‘Flight’ of workers
68. Sanctuary
69. Collective disappearance
70. Protest emigration (hijrat) 


Actions by Consumers 

71. Consumers’ boycott
72. Nonconsumption of boycotted goods 

73. Policy of austerity
74. Rent withholding
75. Refusal to rent
76. National consumers’ boycott
77. International consumers’ boycott 

Action by Workers and Producers 

78. Workmen’s boycott 

79. Producers’ boycott 

Action by Middlemen 

80. Suppliers’ and handlers’ boycott 

Action by Owners and Management 

81. Traders’ boycott
82. Refusal to let or sell property 

83. Lockout
84. Refusal of industrial assistance 

85. Merchants’ ‘general strike’ 

Action by Holders of Financial Resources 

86. Withdrawal of bank deposits
87. Refusal to pay fees, dues, and assessments 

88. Refusal to pay debts or interest
89. Severance of funds and credit
90. Revenue refusal
91. Refusal of a government’s money 

Action by Governments 

92. Domestic embargo
93. Blacklisting of traders
94. International sellers’ embargo 

95. International buyers’ embargo 

96. International trade embargo 


Symbolic Strikes 

97. Protest strike
98. Quickie walkout (lightning strike) 

Agricultural Strikes 

99. Peasant strike
100. Farm Workers’ strike 

Strikes by Special Groups 

101. Refusal of impressed labor 

102. Prisoners’ strike
103. Craft strike
104. Professional strike 

Ordinary Industrial Strikes 

105. Establishment strike 

106. Industry strike
107. Sympathetic strike 

Restricted Strikes 

108. Detailed Strike
109. Bumper strike
110. Slowdown strike
111. Working-to-rule strike 

112. Reporting ‘sick’ (sick-in) 

113. Strike by resignation 

114. Limited strike 

115. Selective strike 

Multi-Industry Strikes 

116. Generalized strike 

117. General strike 

Combination of Strikes and Economic Closures 

118. Hartal
119. Economic shutdown 


Rejection of Authority 

120. Withholding or withdrawal of allegiance
121. Refusal of public support
122. Literature and speeches advocating resistance 

Citizens’ Noncooperation with Government 

123. Boycott of legislative bodies
124. Boycott of elections
125. Boycott of government employment and positions
126. Boycott of government depts., agencies, and other bodies 

127. Withdrawal from government educational institutions 

128. Boycott of government-supported organizations
129. Refusal of assistance to enforcement agents
130. Removal of own signs and placemarks
131. Refusal to accept appointed officials
132. Refusal to dissolve existing institutions 

Citizens’ Alternatives to Obedience 

133. Reluctant and slow compliance
134. Nonobedience in absence of direct supervision 

135. Popular nonobedience
136. Disguised disobedience
137. Refusal of an assemblage or meeting to disperse 

138. Sit-down
139. Noncooperation with conscription and deportation 

140. Hiding, escape, and false identities
141. Civil disobedience of ‘illegitimate’ laws 

Action by Government Personnel 

142. Selective refusal of assistance by government aides 

143. Blocking of lines of command and information
144. Stalling and obstruction
145. General administrative noncooperation 

146. Judicial noncooperation
147. Deliberate inefficiency and selective noncooperation by enforcement agents
148. Mutiny 

Domestic Governmental Action 

149. Quasi-legal evasions and delays
150. Noncooperation by constituent governmental units 

International Governmental Action 

151. Changes in diplomatic and other representations 

152. Delay and cancellation of diplomatic events
153. Withholding of diplomatic recognition
154. Severance of diplomatic relations 

155. Withdrawal from international organizations 

156. Refusal of membership in international bodies 

157. Expulsion from international organizations 


Psychological Intervention 

158. Self-exposure to the elements 

159. The fast 

  1. Fast of moral pressure 

  2. Hunger strike

  3. Satyagrahic fast 

160. Reverse trial
161. Nonviolent harassment 

Physical Intervention 

162. Sit-in
163. Stand-in
164. Ride-in
165. Wade-in
166. Mill-in
167. Pray-in
168. Nonviolent raids
169. Nonviolent air raids 

170. Nonviolent invasion 

171. Nonviolent interjection 

172. Nonviolent obstruction 

173. Nonviolent occupation 

Social Intervention 

174. Establishing new social patterns 

175. Overloading of facilities
176. Stall-in
177. Speak-in 

178. Guerrilla theatre
179. Alternative social institutions
180. Alternative communication system 

Economic Interventio

181. Reverse Strike
182. Stay-in Strike
183. Nonviolent land seizure
184. Defiance of Blockades
185. Politically Motivated Counterfeiting 

186. Preclusive Purchasing
187. Seizure of assets
188. Dumping
189. Selective patronage
190. Alternative markets
191. Alternative transportation systems 

192. Alternative economic institutions 

Political Intervention 

193. Overloading of administrative systems 

194. Disclosing identities of secret agents 

195. Seeking imprisonment
196. Civil disobedience of ‘neutral’ laws 

197. Work-on without collaboration 

198. Dual sovereignty and parallel government 

29. Know Your Rights 

Freedom of Assembly

In French law, the right to protest and assemble in public is not addressed by the constitution. However, it is present in both the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen and the European Convention on Human Rights. This means that a real protection of the right to protest is not authorized, but has to be declared in advance. 

Announce Your Public Event

Everyone has the right to take their opinion to the streets. Police cannot restrict a peaceful public assembly, but you must inform the local police about your public event up to fifteen days in advance and at least seventy-two hours before it. You must also explain the purpose, time, place, and route of the protest and name three organizers for the event, who must all live in the area. 

Right to Contact your Family, a Lawyer, and a Doctor

The public authorities (police, mayors, prefects) reserve the right to prohibit any protest if it threatens to cause serious disturbances to the public. The police have the right to end your protest and arrest you for forty-eight hours if they consider the protest or you a disturbance to public order. If you are arrested, you have the right to know the reason for your arrest and to contact your family, and see a lawyer and doctor.

Article 431-3 Defines Crowd or Group as Illegal

A ‘wild or spontaneous’ protest is not clearly defined in the legislation. Article 431-3 of the French Penal Code refers to ‘criminal participation’ as a ‘crowd’ or ‘group of people’. A crowd is not illegal in and of itself, but crowds do not possess the same fundamental rights as those of an individual and can therefore be considered ‘likely to disturb public order’.

Two Warnings

Police officers are supposed to give two warnings—two requests that the crowd disperses—before using force. Only if the two warnings have no effect, or the police are themselves attacked, is force justified. However, often these warnings are never given.

Protection Gear Can Get You Arrested

Protestors have recently been charged for carrying normal protection glasses, eye-cleaning liquid, and mouth or face covers. So if you carry these items to a protest, you might get arrested and charged with the intent to collectively commit violence against individuals or destroy property. 

Arrest Is Always a Risk

It’s good to know how you can protect yourselves while protesting, but there is always a risk of being arrested. The decision to criminalize participation in a protest is a very political one.

30. The End 

Invent a narrative scenario that involves two or three exercises: It can be a street demonstration, a sit-in, a silent protest, and so on. It should include a fall, a withdrawal, dispersion, animated communication with the police, self- protection, or a fight, among other possibilities. Then do the choreography for one another.

Feedback: What do you think about this final end exercise? Would you change anything? 

The Group-Think project is co-authored by teenagers and contemporary circus artists from Archaos, Pôle National Cirque in Marseille, France and was commissioned by Manifesta, the European Nomadic Biennial for its thirteenth edition in Marseille.  

From March to October 2019, the artist facilitated brainstorming sessions with teenagers in Marseille; from these conversations, the theme of protest was defined and exercises were prepared, tested, and co-written with students from four different schools around the city. The students first tried out the exercises; they then provided feedback and suggested changes, which the group then tested again. 

The first session was difficult and did not elicit much feedback from the students; but the more time they spent together, the more the group began to critique the exercises and become involved – disagreeing and coming up with several variations and edits. For example, the breathing and hand signal exercises are based on requests from the young people: One student wanted to better deal with anxiety and stress and also felt that the group needed breathing exercises to be more attentive to each other and to the moment. 

Another student argued that the police do not know how to distinguish between young people getting ‘merely’ upset and when they actually intend violence, so they suggested a hand signal system with which to communicate with the police. However, the implementation of such a hand signal system to keep very young and minor protestors safe(r) would require collaboration with the police. In this handbook, hand signalling is introduced as a mass communication tool.


Concept: Stine Marie Jacobsen

Production: Manifesta 13 Education Department (Yana Klichuk and Joana Monbaron)

Trainers: Sophie de Castalbajac of Archaos, Pamela Pantoja, and Andrew Graham

Advisor: Jacques Soncin

Project Assistant: Primavera Gomes Caldas

Editor: Ida Bencke

Translator (English to French): Aïtallah Mohamed Riahi

Copy Editor (English): Michele Faguet

Book Design: Modem Studio

A special thanks to Perla Montelongo for advising me on the writing of the exercises; Ronel Doual for her help with the vocal exercises; students Alexandre Vievard and Hanni dex Heimer for making sure the exercise descriptions are understandable; and Aleks Berditchevskaia for advising me on the introduction.

Project Supporters: The Danish Arts Foundation and Maison du Danemark.

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