Workshop Generator

Use this page as a quick and dirty workshop creator. Every time you reload this page, you’ll get:

  • 2 random Warm-ups
  • 2 random Exercises
  • 2 random Practice Games

This should give you a template for a fun workshop of 45 minutes to an hour.  This randomly generated template is a fun way to try out games and exercises you might not be used to.  This is, of course, no substitute for a well designed workshop put together to address the specific needs of your team, however this randomized template may open you up to skills or ideas you might not often address!

HAVE FUN!

Also, for portability, bookmark this page on your mobile device so that you can generate workshops on the go!

Warm Ups

Horseshoe

Horseshoe is a great Brain Fry exercise. Brain Fry games are impossible to win. The joy of the game is in challenging and expanding your ability to focus and concentrate. If you play to win you will only frustrate yourself.

Rules:

Players form groups of 5 – 15 and stand in a horseshoe shaped line facing center. The group numbers off consecutively from one end of the line to the other. The player in position one always starts by calling out another player’s number. The player whose number is called must immediately call out another player’s number (other than the player’s that called theirs… no call backs.) If a player hesitates by laughing, saying “um” or just taking too much time they must move to the end of the line. When a player moves to the end of the line all the players after their number rotate down one number. Position one then quickly calls out another player’s number.

Objectives:

To stimulate connection to impulses within the framework of rules. To get players to a higher state of awareness and presence in the room.

Comments:

Horseshoe can be frustration at best if all you want to do is be good enough at it that you’ll get to the number one position. The fact is that this game is a great exercise to train people that only through relaxation will you FIND (not create) awareness. It is a good rule to keep players eyes up in the game as it is a tendency for players to try and block out visual stimuli by staring at the floor… but the game isn’t happening on the floor. Make sure that they are aware of each other and try to follow (or sense) the flow and become part of it. This may sound very artsy but improvisation is based on communicating impulses and therefore these “Jedi like” senses are necessary. It is also a good idea to have no talking except for the calling out of designations. This will allow for the first position to start the next round immediately when the player leaves to move to the end of the line.

Adaptations:

Once you’ve mastered numbers use other categories such as the alphabet or colours to designate the positions. For an intense Brain Fry combine all three methods.

Presents

A simple offers game that can helps prove the “there are no bad choices, just bad follow-ups” adage.

Rules:

Students pair off and find a place in the room where other pairs won’t distract them.

Taking turns, one student presents the other with a mimed gift. This happens silently. The gift can be any shape, weight, or physical dimensions that the giver would like.

The receiver takes the gift and mimes exactly what it is (he or she may unwrap or accept the gift in any manner they wish). Once the gift is established, the students trade places and give and receive again.

This continues until players have had a chance to give and accept several gifts.

Objectives:

To make clear and specific offers; to make clear and specific followups to offers; to make offers that are physical instead of verbal.

Comments:

Again, the focus is not on creativity or cleverness but rather on giving and receiving offers that are accepted and added to by fellow players.

Adaptations:

Advanced groups can perform an entire mime devoted to a gift, one that indicates the giver and receiver’s relationship, the environment and circumstance of the giving. Gibberish can be added to help move scenes along.

Presents can also be played in a blind line, to test the offer-making skills of your students by passing the same present between students who have their backs turned until it is handed to them. Once you moved down the line, ask each student what present they thought they received vs. what the present actually was. A good lesson in offers

Exercises

5 Element Game

The Five Element game trains and creates natural impulses for story telling.

Rules:

The players get in groups of 3. Two players create a one minute scene while the third player calls out the elements of the Basic Scene Structure as they are created. One player starts by exploring the physical environment of an activity. The observer calls out “Setting.” The second player enters as a complimentary character, thus creating a relationship. Once this relationship is created the watching player calls out “Characters.” The scene partners then find a problem or obstacle to overcome. They raise the stakes, motivating a solution. Finally, the players find a solution (preferably one that arises from the environment or the characters.) At each step the watching player calls out what element of the Basic Scene Structure is created.

Objectives:

To create the instinct to tell stories within the Basic Scene Structure by focusing solely on advancing between elements.

Comments:

Because of the one minute time limit, this exercise often results more in the narration of action rather than true physicalization. Although this is normally a bad thing, the value lies in the ability to reduce the amount of gags and gossip encountered in the creation of the scene. Raising the Stakes is normally the first element to be forgotten in the heat of the moment. It is therefore one of the elements you must be the most stringent about. You should also be looking for an organic solution. An organic solution comes from within the world of the scene; Deus Ex Machina is the improvisor’s easy way out.

Adaptations:

Five Element Freeze: The Five Element game done with freeze called at the end of every scene and a new player taking a position of one of the frozen players. The player then justifys the position into a new environment/activity.

Gibberish 5 Elements: The Five Element game done while only speaking gibberish.

Silent 5 Element: The Five Element game done in silence (no sound effects.)

Radio Dial

This game is a variation of Story Story Die in which each player is assigned a style in which to tell their story.

Rules:

Three to six improvisers form a line on the stage. The MC sits downstage of them, facing the line Each improviser is assigned a style in which tell the story. The narrator/ MC designates who speaks by pointing at them. When the finger moves, the speaking improviser stops (mid-syllable if necessary) and the next improviser picks up EXACTLY where the previous one left off.

Objectives:

To develop awareness and spontaneity. To tell a complete story together within the rules of the game.

Comments:

Concentrate on the story – listen to each other and keep it simple. If the action advances out of hand, the story will lose coherence.

Practice Games

Three Rules

A simple introduction to games/rules in scenework.

Rules:

Three students stand on stage. Each is given the suggestion of a rule that will govern their scene, for example: “Sarah can’t say the letter S, Dan can only use the right side of his body, and Marika screams whenever someone talks about the weather.” A regular scene then occurs, with the rules incorporated.

Objectives:

To incorporate rules and games into regular scenework; to justify rules within a scene; to listen; to accept and forward offers within rule-based scenes; to support but challenge fellow players.

Comments:

Students should play all rules to their maximum ability. The scene is also an opportunity for students to challenge and play with one another’s abilities while also being supportive, and conversely is an opportunity for the director to show how this done well.

Animal Allegory

An interesting approach to character and narration (answer an origin question, self directed narration).

Rules:

Two students are onstage. Each is given the suggestion of a different animal to play. Additionally, the suggestion of an “origin question” is given (Why is the sky blue? Where do babies come from? Why is there a moon?) Students play a scene in which they are the animal (the animals are friends; this is a non-food chain world). They seek to explain the origin question through their character using self-directed narration (i.e.: The student playing the badger would say, “Badger sits on a rock, sunning himself. He turns to his friend alligator and says, ‘Alligator, I do enjoy the sun, but sometimes I wish I could have a break from it.’”) Through the actions and narration of the animal characters, the origin question is answered.

Objectives:

To incorporate and forward suggestions; to explore characters and narration; to listen, heighten and expand; to justify choices within a specific outcome; to multitask within scenework.

Comments:

Students should view the scene as an opportunity to play the character of the animal while also telling a story through it. As this is an origin story, it’s likely that the tone of the scene will either be Biblical or graphic novel-ish in nature. Those are both fine, as long as the student plays them to the hilt. Students might need an example of an origin story to get them going. Essentially, this game is about multitasking character, targeted narrative and the five elements in one go. A good way to expand minds.

Adaptations:

Genres can be put on this exercise as well, so that we might see something like a giraffe and a hare telling the film noir story of the birth of the sun. Stacking elements on one another and seeing how many balls students can keep in the air is the fun of this game. But it’s only fun as long as some creativity can still be found in the world created by all the suggestions.