Come, My Neighbor, If…

This popular theatre game is intended to build community, but it also serves as an exercise that demonstrates inclusion and exclusion criteriain other words, categorization.

All participants stand in an open area that permits simple walking movement. One person at a time moves to an unoccupied area of the room calls —out, “Come, my neighbour, if,” followed by a prompt intended to learn who shares a similar quality. For example, if the prompt is, “Come, my neighbour, if you’ve ever taken a statistics course,” all those who meet that criterion walk to and join the person, while those who have not move away from the person. Prompts can be descriptive or values-laden but should not be too personal. Examples include:

  • “Come, my neighbour, if you’ve attended a college in a different state or country.”
  • “Come, my neighbour, if you love science fiction.”
  • “Come, my neighbour, if you’re scared of the dark.”
  • “Come, my neighbour, if you’ve ever stayed overnight in a hospital.”
  • “Come, my neighbour, if you believe in the death penalty.”
  • “Come, my neighbour, if you feel you trust others too much.”

After playing 15–20 prompts, group members discuss what they learnt about each through the exercise, and how binary or dichotomous categorization can sometimes be problematic.