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!
Also, for portability, bookmark this page on your mobile device so that you can generate workshops on the go!
December 10, 2009
An opportunity for students to let loose vocally and physically, Samurai is a great way to break the students’ bond to the outside world and welcome them, ninja-style, to the improv world.
Students stand in a circle.
Each creates a Samurai “sword” by putting their hands together, palm-to-palm.
Raising his/her “sword” above his/her head, an improviser lets out a classic ninja yell and brings his/her hands down, “stabbing” across the circle at another improviser.
When the first Samurai has their “sword” up, the other Samurais to his/her right and left have an opportunity to use their own “swords” to stab the first Samurai’s soft underbelly. They will let out a yell when they do so, bringing their arm-swords across the first Samurai’s belly in a lateral motion (they do not actually touch the person, just cut across).
Once the “stab” has been passed, the receiver will raise their sword and let out a yell while passing the stab to another player. The players on his/her left will attack the players belly while shouting, as with the first Samurai.
Play continues until players are thoroughly riled up.
To warm up physically and vocally and get in touch with impulses; to get energized and excited about improv; to let loose and let go of inhibitions.
Sometimes it’s hard for us to let go of the stresses of the day and the habits related to looking cool and looking good. Screaming your little Samurai heart out is a good way to get over this.
A nice beginning warm up to concepts of word association and narration. It’s impulse response, not cleverness that governs here.
Students stand in a circle.
The director may offer a word or suggestion to get going, but they don’t have to.
A student initiates by speaking a headline-style phrase. For example, “Bear bites forest ranger in National Park.”
The player to that student’s left will say another headline, using the last word of the previous headline as inspiration. This should happen very quickly, and without stumbling. “Park gets new swing set; children happy.” “Happy babies 10% more productive, study says,” and so on.
Continue around the circle, aiming for speed and impulse connection, rather than cleverness or witty headlines (though they will definitely happen on their own).
To connect to word association-based impulse and find the benefit in connecting to simple words and phrases, as this is often the basis for good scenework. To free students from their own minds and the idea that it’s wit/cleverness that governs good narrative work.
While we are emphasizing simple wordplay here, interesting, strange, dark, twisted and weird (as well as funny) headlines will likely come out of this exercise. The important thing is to encourage a lack of judgment and to celebrate the brain’s wild and wonderful creations.
Headlines can also make a great exercise, if you want to dig deeper into it. One adaptation involves snapping or verbally approving (“Ooh!” “Aaah!”) when a particularly juicy headline is produced; the student who said it will then step into the middle of the circle. Joined by another player, the two will initiate a scene start based on the headline, which will run for a minute or so before the player next in the circle will offer a new headline (it need not be connected to the previous one).
A more challenging version would be to have students name their “publication,” for example, “The Grumpy Old Man Times.” Their headlines must then come from that point of view. A good character adaptation.
December 11, 2009
The next step in status work—observation and changing of habitual status.
Students create a backline. Have each improviser enter the playing area with an obvious status choice. Once you feel they have clearly established status, ask the next improviser to take a turn. Have each student try high and low status at least once.
To use simple physical changes to indicate status; to establish strong status at the beginning of scenes.
Director should push students to play a status they are uncomfortable with or use the least. More advanced students can try playing a low status character who behaves in a high status way and vice versa, to show the subtleties of status and how it can manifest in scenes.
A great game to encourage players to alter their emotional states.
Two improvisers start a scene with opposite emotions, and over the course of the scene they switch.
To introduce the value of emotional transfer into scene work.. To heighten awareness.
Don’t jump right into the transfer – establish the opposite organic transfer WITHIN the reality of the scene.
October 31, 2014
A game to practice making specific offers.
Get a few players up to perform a scene. At any point during the scene, the audience or director can yell out, “More specific!” and the last offer that was made must be redone in a more specific way. “More specific” can be called out multiple times until the players are specific enough. For example: “It’s over there.” -> “It’s on the counter.” -> “The watch is on the marble counter.” -> “The Rolex is on the brand new marble counter.”
To show how being specific can open up new possibilities in a scene, reveal character and make scenes more interesting.
More specific doesn’t always mean more elaborate. Make sure the players are getting specific about the offer that was just made rather than adding in outside details. Try calling out more specific on physical offers as well.
December 11, 2009
A great endowment game.
Two players stand onstage. The first player speaks a line of dialogue. Each player will state the action the other player must perform, followed by his/her own line. For example: 1. “I want a divorce” 2: “She said, while grabbing a knife from the kitchen table.” At this point player 1 needs to take a knife. Player 2 continues with his own line. “Sure Honey” 1: “He said, while turning to the sports page of the paper”. Now, it’s quite clear that player 2 should be paying more attention to the paper than to his wife. Player 1 continues with her own line. “You’re not listening to me,” and so on until the scene is complete.
To explore and heighten endowment; to challenge but also support your fellow player; to accept and forward offers.
Can be quite challenging, in terms of logic; it helps if players are familiar with one another and if their “stage directions” are mostly physical offers for their fellow player. Can become “talking heady” if players are thinking too much about what to offer to their partner rather than their own action. Emphasize the five elements.
Can be done with four players; 2 provide the lines, and the 2 others provide the directions, one for each actor.