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.

Knight, Mount, Cavalier

Knight, Mount, Cavalier is all about physicalization and support. Make sure your students have stretched!

Rules:

Students get into pairs of Player A and Player B.

The Director will call out one of three physical poses, either Knight, Mount or Cavalier, which are as follows:

Knight: Player A gets down on one knee. Player B puts one foot on Player A’s knee and one hand in the air, is if brandishing a sword high.

Mount: Player B gets on all fours as a horse would; Player A mounts Player B like a rider.

Cavalier: Player A extends his/her arms; Player B jumps into Player A’s arms like a damsel (or dude-damsel) in distress.

Students must hold and support each pose until the Director calls a new one.

Objectives:

To physically attack an offer or impulse (but not your scene partner), to share space and focus, and to find the joy in physical scenework.

Comments:

Safety is important here; so pairing students evenly according to height/weight isn’t a bad idea. Speed and accuracy are key, as well!

Exercises

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.

 

The Room

An excellent game for creating shared environments.

Rules:

The first player enters a room and mimetically creates an object that defines the location. The next player enters the room, uses the first object and then creates a second one found in that location. One by one the rest of the players enter, use the previously created objects and create a new one.

Objectives:

To increase the ability to create detailed environments, and to eliminate the problem of having players “walk through tables.”

Comments:

Mimetic abilities are a great tool for the improvisor to create environments on stage. Players should work to achieve a level of clarity in expression without feeling that they need to master the art of mime. Some players tend to create elaborate stories in order to use all their objects, often times destroying the objects or combining the use of two objects in improbable ways. The focus of the exercise is to create a shared environment, not to be funny and creative (often a mask for a desire to avoid the exercise.)

Adaptations:

Have players remain in the environment as characters after they have created their object. Allow players to interact as their characters.

Practice Games

Rollercoaster

Rules:

Players begin a scene on a suggestion from the audience. A moderator the calls out different Styles or Emotions. When a new Style or Emotion is called out the players must continue the same scene justifying the new element.

Objectives:

To justify the transitions while creating a scene.

Comments:

Try and keep the continuity of the scene steady and with purpose or this will become a listing game of the players knowledge of the different styles. When the style changes the characters will be altered slightly as well, do not allow this alteration to change who the characters

Sounds Like a Song

A painless entrée into the world of musical improv.

Rules:

Students perform a straightforward open scene. At any point, the director (or audience, depending) can shout, “Sounds like a song!” (Usually this happens on a line of dialogue.) The student who spoke the previous line or did the previous action must then sing a song using that line/action as a suggestion for the song. Songs are short, 30 seconds or so. Scene continues from there, until “Sounds like a song!” is shouted again.

Objectives:

To justify within a scene; to over-accept offers; to hone singing skills; to listen.

Comments:

Students are urged to throw themselves into the songs, Broadway-style. This is not to say that every song should be a huge, bombastic, Fosse-inspired dance number, but that every song should be performed at 120%. Ballads and torch songs are fine, as well. The emotionality of the song should be related to the story and character. Some improvisers are terrified of singing onstage. A good warm up to this game is Hot Spot (see warm ups).