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

Environments

Creating worlds on stage is a fundamental skill. This game encourages players to create locations non-verbally as well as strengthening team work.

Rules:

The warm up leader calls out an environment, then loudly counts down from 10. Without discussion or planning the players create and explore the environment using the full space. Players may be objects or people.

Objectives:

To physically explore an improvised environment and all it’s possibilities. To force the improvisors to be present in the space, and work together without discussion to create full functioning environments.

Comments:

Don’t discuss it – do it! Explore all the aspects of the environment. If the environment is a movie theatre, there’s the possibility of popcorn, people to sell the popcorn, moviegoers, screen, seats, any of the myriad objects and persons that make up a movie theatre experience. Watch each other, try to create balanced stage pictures. If you see everyone else trying to be the screen, sit down and watch the movie.

Rapid Fire Freeze

This is a variation on a classic performance game…

Rules:

Two players begin a scene. Once the scene is minimally established, an off-stage player yells “freeze”. The on-stage improvisors freeze in their last physical position. The off stage player enters, taps one character out, takes their exact physical position and then justifies it while establishing a new scene. Once this new scene is established, the process repeats itself.

Objectives:

To practice establishing scenes through exploration of environments or activities, and to practice justifying physical positions on the stage.

Comments:

Don’t wait for a great idea, call freeze as soon as the new scene has been established.

Adaptations:

Blind Freeze: Two players on stage, the rest in a line against the back wall. The first improvisor in line turns their back on the stage, and when it sounds as though the scene has been established they yell “freeze.” They then go in and take the position of one of the players, seeing it for the first time, and initiate a new scene.

Exercises

Johnson File

An exercise that focuses on making mundane offers more important.

Rules:

One player is on stage and another player enters, handing them a file with the dialogue, “Here’s the Johnson File.” The player who receives the Johnson File will then make a statement revealing how important this object is, “The Johnson File! The last piece of evidence that will clear my name!” Then the players switch roles and repeat the exercise.

Objectives:

This exercise shows players that any offer can be heightened and made vital to the scene. There are no bad offers, only poor follow-ups.

Comments:

Make sure the players are being specific as to why the Johnson File is important to them. Try playing the game for an extended period of time, pushing the students past the point where the ideas come quickly and allow them to get creative and absurd with their follow-ups.

Adaptations:

The game can be played with different opening offers as well, “It’s Tuesday” is a popular variation.

 

Yes, And

A fundamental exercise teaching improvisers how to properly accept offers and contribute to the scene.

Rules:

Put the players in pairs. One student will start by making a statement such as, “We are going on a vacation.” The other will follow up by first saying, “Yes, and…” agreeing with the first statement and adding new information. “Yes, and we are spending a week in Paris.” The players will go back and forth making “Yes and” declarations until they reach a natural conclusion.

Objectives:

To show how simple and effective the concept of “Yes and” is in improvisation. To make a habit of always accepting with new information.

Comments:

Encourage the students to respond to what was just said and expand on that idea, as opposed to listing a series of disconnected ideas. In the example above, the students might get into the trap of just listing activities they did in Paris, “Yes and we arrive at the Eiffel Tower.” “Yes and we eat fine cheese.” “Yes and we see Versailles.”

It is more effective to explore the first idea, “Yes and we arrive at the Eiffel Tower.” “Yes and we take the stairs all the way up.” “Yes and we can see the whole city.” It allows a story to reveal itself.

Also, encourage the students to physicalize the actions of the story and make statements in the present tense.

Adaptations:

This game can also be played in a circle or in small groups.

 

Practice Games

What Comes Next?

A game that explores an audience’s expectations when it comes to forwarding a narrative.

Rules:

Get a few players up to do a scene. They can start establishing a platform based on a suggestion, or they can start by asking “What comes first?” Either way, after the first beat has been explored, the players stop (or are stopped by the director), and ask, “What comes next?” The audience or other players decide what will happen next in the story, and the players perform what the audience tells them to. The game continues until the natural ending is found.

Objectives:

To show how the audience are great, natural storytellers and help students find ways to advance a scene that are satisfying to an audience.

Comments:

Make sure the students are exploring the beats that the audience have told them to. Do not allow them to advance without first stopping and asking, “What comes next?” The audience doesn’t have to give a lot of details, the details are handled by the players.

Adaptations:

This game can also be a great way to explore a genre for a Style Event.

 

Expand and Advance

A game emphasizing the importance of expanding as well as advancing.

Rules:

Get two or three players up to do a scene. At certain points in the scene, the director will call out “Expand” or “Advance”. When “Expand” is called out, the players have to expand on the details of the action or idea that they are currently exploring. With dialogue and action, they can reveal details about the current beat. They can explore how they are affected by what is happening, reveal stakes, be descriptive of the environment, anything that enriches the current moment and does not forward the narrative.

When “Advance” is called, the players can then move to the next unit of action in the scene. They can allow changes to happen that force the characters to move on from what they have been exploring and take action.

Objectives:

This games gives players a sense of how much to expand on beats before moving the story forward. They will experience the balance between the two important and connected concepts of expanding and advancing.

Comments:

As the director, you can try to call out expand and advance when you think it is appropriate, or you can try experimenting and challenging the players to expand on moments they would normally gloss over. Just remind the students that the game is an exercise and in practice, they should find the moments to expand and advance organically.

Adaptations:

You can also try this game as a monologue exercise.