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

Hot Spot

A vocal warm up that doubles as an icebreaker and impulse warm up. Great opening warm up.

Rules:

Students stand in a circle.

With our without a suggestion, one student initiates by stepping into the centre of the circle and belting out a song. This is done performatively.

When the song being sung inspires another, a new singer will enter the circle and take over, singing their new song. The first singer will step out into the circle.

This continues until every player has sung, or as long as you’d like.

Objectives:

To let go of the inhibitions that sometimes hold us back from our impulses; to attack an offer and build upon it; to support each other; to warm up our voices; to “sell” offers.

Comments:

Sometimes singing terrifies improvisers; especially those who are just getting to know and trust one another. Tossing students headfirst into Hot Spot helps to throw a lot of that early shyness and lack of attack out the window. Players need not be good singers, or sing great songs, they only need to jump on the moment and attack it, supporting their fellow player in the process.

If players are really frightened by the idea, have the other players sing along to songs they know and help support their friend in need.

Adaptations:

Songs usually tend to be standards or whatever is Top 40 at the moment. Challenge brave students to make up songs, to only sing songs from a certain artist, or to from a certain year/decade/genre.

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.

Exercises

Arms Experts

Two improvisors become expert know-it-all’s on a subject of the audience’s choosing. The format can be an interview, talk show, lecture, debate…

Rules:

One improvisor comes up to play an expert on a suggested topic. A second improvisor stands behind the first. The front improviser wraps their arms around the improviser behind. The rear improviser puts his arms out as the front persons arms.

Objectives:

To encourage spontaneity, and the making and justifying of physical offers. Freeing the trust in ones impulses.

Comments:

The front improviser (the “voice” of the Expert) should include and justify all of the physical offers made by the “arms” (rear) improviser. The rear improviser should stay present, listen carefully to the front improviser and then add physical offers of their own. Take your time: relaxation will keep you in the moment, and that will be more interesting to watch than hurried or incomplete answers/statements. Confidence is both more interesting and more important than speed.

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

Scene with Character Triggers

Applying basic character work to scenes.

Rules:

Two or three students are onstage. Each student in the scene will be given a word. Students will use that word to inspire a character; students are given a moment to repeat the word and to find the physical/vocal elements of that character. Students are then given a general scene suggestion and perform a scene as those characters.

Objectives:

To focus on character as the starting point for a scene; to justify character choices within a world; to support your fellow player; to embrace and heighten the unexpected offers that feed scenes.

Comments:

These scenes are a balancing act, between over accepting the offers of a particular character in a (perhaps unconventional or unexpected) location/situation and creating good scene work on top of all of that. Students should discover their ability to use suggestions in ways they perhaps never thought possible or never thought would work. Embracing this ability is a great step for an improviser to take.

Adaptations:

These characters can also be “interviewed” before the scene begins to help students focus in on who these people are before they are thrust into a scene.

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.