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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

Headlines

A nice beginning warm up to concepts of word association and narration. It’s impulse response, not cleverness that governs here.

Rules:

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).


Objectives:

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.


Comments:

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.


Adaptations:

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.


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

Transformation Game

The Transformation Game was the birthplace of the game we now know as Freeze. Unfortunately what is missing from Freeze is the Transformation Game’s amazing morphic energy based in physical communication and focus. The game is rooted in the transformation of the Who and the Where. The Transformation Game is also a great teamwork exercise in movement and listening.

Rules:

A group of players (3-8) start on stage performing a group activity based on a suggestion. Within the first scene a player will find a connection within their movement (or the groups movement) that will allow them to transform the scene into a new scene. The players will then continually transform the Who and Where until they arrive at a predetermined (by suggestion) final activity.


Objectives:

To teach group communication skills through movement.


Comments:

Players should make sure to connect the original movement as closely as they can. This can also be played as a partner exercise.


Story, Story, Die!

A game that increases narrative skill, teamwork and listening.

Rules:

Three to six improvisers form a line on the stage. The narrator/MC sits downstage of them, facing the line. The MC randomly points to players in the line. The player who is pointed at speaks. When the finger moves, the speaking improviser stops (mid-syllable if necessary) and the next improviser picks up EXACTLY where the previous one left off. If a player stutters, repeats a word or says something totally incongruous, the audience shouts “DIE!” The improviser “dies” and a new story begins. The game ends when only one person remains.


Objectives:

To develop awareness and spontaneity. To tell a complete story as a team within the restrictions of the game.


Comments:

Die with good grace: the audience takes their cue for reaction from the improviser. Keep it fun. Concentrate on the story - listen to each other and keep it simple. If the action advances out of hand, the story will lose coherence.


Practice Games

Backwards Scene

Rules:

The team creates an entire story/scene in reverse, starting with the conclusion of the story and improvising thier way to the beginning.


Objectives:

The team must know the “Basic Scene Structure” so well they can forward the action in reverse (I guess that would be “reverse” the action). Resolution, raising the stakes, problem, characters, environment. Example: “I’m leaving - goodbye forever” “What will you do now?” “I can’t take this anymore!” “Nothing’s ever good enough, is it.” “God, how I hate carrots!” “Here’s your dinner, hon.” “Isn’t dinner ready yet? I’m diabetic.” “Welcome home dear, have a seat. I’ll just be a minute.”


Comments:

You don’t have to speak backwards - just unfold the story in reverse order. Take your time: this game is liable to disintegrate entirely if it’s rushed.


Inner Voices

Inner voices is a classic game normally used solely as a comic device. Teams have recently found it to be a great game to explore the life event.

Rules:

A suggestion is received from the audience (of the teams choosing.) Main characters do a linear scene about a pivotal moment. An additional player for each character within the scene “Shadows” and vocalizes the character’s inner commentary. Players give and take until the scene finds it’s conclusion.


Comments:

It is very easy for the inner voices to comment solely on the feelings of the character. It is important that the characters be allowed to show their feelings rather than have them be simply explained. The explanation can deflate a player’s ability to create characters we care about. The asset of having the inner voice is to be able to show the conflicting feelings we have in life.