A nice beginning warm up to concepts of word association and narration. It’s impulse response, not cleverness that governs here.


Students stand in a circle.

The director may offer a word or suggestion to get going, but they don’t have to.

A student initiates by speaking a headline-style phrase. For example, “Bear bites forest ranger in National Park.”

The player to that student’s left will say another headline, using the last word of the previous headline as inspiration. This should happen very quickly, and without stumbling. “Park gets new swing set; children happy.” “Happy babies 10% more productive, study says,” and so on.

Continue around the circle, aiming for speed and impulse connection, rather than cleverness or witty headlines (though they will definitely happen on their own).


To connect to word association-based impulse and find the benefit in connecting to simple words and phrases, as this is often the basis for good scenework. To free students from their own minds and the idea that it’s wit/cleverness that governs good narrative work.


While we are emphasizing simple wordplay here, interesting, strange, dark, twisted and weird (as well as funny) headlines will likely come out of this exercise. The important thing is to encourage a lack of judgment and to celebrate the brain’s wild and wonderful creations.


Headlines can also make a great exercise, if you want to dig deeper into it. One adaptation involves snapping or verbally approving (“Ooh!” “Aaah!”) when a particularly juicy headline is produced; the student who said it will then step into the middle of the circle. Joined by another player, the two will initiate a scene start based on the headline, which will run for a minute or so before the player next in the circle will offer a new headline (it need not be connected to the previous one).

A more challenging version would be to have students name their “publication,” for example, “The Grumpy Old Man Times.” Their headlines must then come from that point of view. A good character adaptation.