Let’s talk about the huddle

Laurie Graham – Milton Ontario

When the team starts practising the events, it’s a good idea to rehearse the huddle separately. Since they have only about 5 seconds to confer after being told their suggestion from the audience, it helps to have some shortcuts. I like to give each player (or have them choose) an appointed role in the huddle depending on the event. They could be central to the brainstorming in the Story Event huddle, but more of an active listener during the Life Event. This avoids having everyone talking at once, trying to be heard.

Another trick, is to decide ahead of time which specific aspect of the scene to focus on in those few seconds. (Ex: character and/or setting as drawn from the suggestion). But I try not to let them plan beyond the platform, (the setting and character relationships), so the scene can progress organically. Knowing how it’s supposed to end can handcuff the team to a single approach.

I like to practise the huddle for each event with the team, since every event will start differently. Give them their suggestion as though they were at a performance. Call out the ref’s line:

“This is ______ District High School, with their story event; they asked for an object and they got a mousetrap. And we’ll see this scene in 5,4,3,2,…1!”

When time is called, the team should explode out of the huddle with confidence, each player finding a place for themselves on stage, beginning their scene immediately. Don’t rehearse the whole scene. Stop and discuss how the huddle went, and what they want to work on. The huddle may seem like something you shouldn’t need to practice, but it is actually a very helpful way to prepare the team for being on stage in front of an audience.

Laurie Graham is a recently retired drama teacher from Milton, Ontario. She coached Improv for fifteen years, taking her team to C.I.G. nationals a number of times.