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.

Horseshoe

Horseshoe is a great Brain Fry exercise. Brain Fry games are impossible to win. The joy of the game is in challenging and expanding your ability to focus and concentrate. If you play to win you will only frustrate yourself.

Rules:

Players form groups of 5 – 15 and stand in a horseshoe shaped line facing center. The group numbers off consecutively from one end of the line to the other. The player in position one always starts by calling out another player’s number. The player whose number is called must immediately call out another player’s number (other than the player’s that called theirs… no call backs.) If a player hesitates by laughing, saying “um” or just taking too much time they must move to the end of the line. When a player moves to the end of the line all the players after their number rotate down one number. Position one then quickly calls out another player’s number.

Objectives:

To stimulate connection to impulses within the framework of rules. To get players to a higher state of awareness and presence in the room.

Comments:

Horseshoe can be frustration at best if all you want to do is be good enough at it that you’ll get to the number one position. The fact is that this game is a great exercise to train people that only through relaxation will you FIND (not create) awareness. It is a good rule to keep players eyes up in the game as it is a tendency for players to try and block out visual stimuli by staring at the floor… but the game isn’t happening on the floor. Make sure that they are aware of each other and try to follow (or sense) the flow and become part of it. This may sound very artsy but improvisation is based on communicating impulses and therefore these “Jedi like” senses are necessary. It is also a good idea to have no talking except for the calling out of designations. This will allow for the first position to start the next round immediately when the player leaves to move to the end of the line.

Adaptations:

Once you’ve mastered numbers use other categories such as the alphabet or colours to designate the positions. For an intense Brain Fry combine all three methods.

Exercises

Machines

A simple exercise in group awareness and physical responsiveness.

Rules:

One player enters and begins a repetitive sound and action. Once that is established, a second improviser comes up and takes a position relative to the first, beginning a different repetitive sound and action. Each improvisor enters and becomes part of the machine. After the machine is established, performers may freeze and identify the machine (i.e. “Oh, it’s a top spinner and tabbouleh mixer.”)

Objectives:

To increase group awareness. To practice making, incorporating and justifying physical offers.

Comments:

When in doubt, keep it simple.

5 Element Game

The Five Element game trains and creates natural impulses for story telling.

Rules:

The players get in groups of 3. Two players create a one minute scene while the third player calls out the elements of the Basic Scene Structure as they are created. One player starts by exploring the physical environment of an activity. The observer calls out “Setting.” The second player enters as a complimentary character, thus creating a relationship. Once this relationship is created the watching player calls out “Characters.” The scene partners then find a problem or obstacle to overcome. They raise the stakes, motivating a solution. Finally, the players find a solution (preferably one that arises from the environment or the characters.) At each step the watching player calls out what element of the Basic Scene Structure is created.

Objectives:

To create the instinct to tell stories within the Basic Scene Structure by focusing solely on advancing between elements.

Comments:

Because of the one minute time limit, this exercise often results more in the narration of action rather than true physicalization. Although this is normally a bad thing, the value lies in the ability to reduce the amount of gags and gossip encountered in the creation of the scene. Raising the Stakes is normally the first element to be forgotten in the heat of the moment. It is therefore one of the elements you must be the most stringent about. You should also be looking for an organic solution. An organic solution comes from within the world of the scene; Deus Ex Machina is the improvisor’s easy way out.

Adaptations:

Five Element Freeze: The Five Element game done with freeze called at the end of every scene and a new player taking a position of one of the frozen players. The player then justifys the position into a new environment/activity.

Gibberish 5 Elements: The Five Element game done while only speaking gibberish.

Silent 5 Element: The Five Element game done in silence (no sound effects.)

Practice Games

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.

 

In a… With a…

Rules:

Improvisors get audience suggestions to fill in the blanks IN A _____ WITH A _____ (WHILE_____). Scene does not necessarily begin with the suggestions,but may move toward that moment.Or it may begin at the suggestion and proceed wherever it might.

Objectives:

To improvise and justify a complete scene within the rules of the game.

Comments:

Let the scene evolve directly from the suggestions. There’s no need to invent: each suggestion contains a wealth of potential material. When working with more than one suggestion it’s a good idea to “marry” the suggestions, bringing them together in some way to help the scene find its resolution.

Adaptations:

Single blank, or any two of the three.