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

Circuits

A Brain Fry to the extreme—test your students’ juggling skills.

Rules:

Start with a single circuit: Students stand in a circle.

Students hold one hand in the air. One student points at another, and says, “You,” (or their name, if this is a familiar group). The recipient of the “you” passes it to another student whose hand is still raised, continuing until the last person with their hand raised points back at the first student. This is the first circuit. (It is very important that each student remembers who pointed at him or her and who he or she pointed at.) Repeat the circuit a few times.

After the circuit is established, repeat a few more times without pointing, using only eye contact.

From there, additional circuits can be built, by stopping and having the students put their hands up and pointing at a new circuit partner again. The circuits should start with the same player but continue on different paths. Circuits can be categories of things, or saying your own name to another player (challenging). Once a new circuit has been introduced and practiced, without pointing, the first player can reintroduce the initial circuit.

Continue adding in new circuits as desired (three is initially very challenging; over time as many as 5 or 6 can happen).

If a circuit gets dropped, the offer can be gently remade until it is picked up again. The entire circuit can also be begun again at will.

Objectives:

To hone focus, listening and trust; to fail joyfully and support one another; to accept and forward offers; to concentrate on how your small part benefits the whole.

Comments:

The director can watch for giggling, or lack of concentration, but allow students to gently keep the circuits on track by themselves (at least, after the first few times). This trains students to work together to keep scenes afloat, and to make clear offers and acceptance. It’s also beneficial in showing students how, even in complicated scenes, they can focus on their small part and still benefit the whole.

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

Crisis Situation

A great exercise in spontaneity and impulse.

Rules:

Students form a backline. Two players come on stage and approach each other with a crisis, and an object unrelated to the crisis. After each has presented his or her crisis and object, the other solves his/her partner’s crisis with his/her own object. Replies must be instantaneous. For example: Player A: I failed the big test and I just have this bouncy ball. Player B: I crashed my car and I’m stuck with this teddy bear. Player A: Here’s my bouncy ball, you can use it to distract someone so you can steal their car. Player B: Here’s my teddy bear, he’ll console you while you study for the makeup exam.

Objectives:

To connect with impulse and spontaneity; to accept and forward offers; to justify offers.

Comments:

Students should not be afraid of coming up with silly responses, as long as the offer is accepted and justified.

Stakes Circle

An exercise focusing on stakes as a part of the Five Element basic scene structure.

Rules:

The players stand in a circle, the first player gives a location, “A computer lab.” The next player gives a brief description of two characters in the location, “A hotshot student hacker and an unprepared substitute teacher.” The next player gives a problem or conflict, “The student keeps interrupting the teacher to correct him.”

Then, all of the players in the circle give compounding stakes, try to keep going until the group runs out of steam, “The teacher is under review and needs the students to perform well,” “The student is trying to impress a girl in class to get a date to the Spring Fling,” “The school will scrap the computer science program if the class doesn’t work out,” “Google is recruiting for lavish internships and is auditing the class,” etc. Once the stakes have been fully explored, one final student can offer a solution, “The teacher convinces the student that they should work together to make each other look good.”

Objectives:

To explore many different types of stakes: positive, negative, personal, antagonist, narrative and global.

Comments:

Make sure students are making a single problem and expanding on why it is important to be resolved. Encourage them to explore positive stakes as well as negative; what good things will happen if they succeed as well as what bad things will happen if they fail?

 

Practice Games

Animal Actors

A great game to explore non-human habitual movement.

Rules:

Improvisers ask for an animal or animals to inspire their characters. The team then plays the scene as a human with that animal’s characteristics.

Objectives:

To use the Animals inherent talents and well known traits to solve problems (or create them) and create the elements of scene work. It is also important to find the similarities between animal and human.

Comments:

How does this animal character walk? Talk? Sit? Eat? How do they react to danger? Happiness? The more detail your animal character has, the more interesting you will be and the better you honour the suggestion. If you have a well rounded animal character, the scene will organically evolve from that character’s specific traits. If you do some animal character exploration with your group before you play the game, you’ll find more detail and more levels to play on. The animals that you get from the audience will (and should) be different but a familiarity with the exploration will help you create well-rounded characters.

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.