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

Goalie aka Firing Line

A word association and disassociation game that puts individual players in the hot seat.

Rules:

Students make a back line, with one student (the “Goalie”) standing facing them.

One by one, students “shoot” words and/or phrases at the Goalie. It’s the Goalie’s job to then fire a word back at the shooter that is associated with the first word.

Students continue to shoot words/phrases in rapid-fire succession at the Goalie, attempting to trip him/her up (to “score”). The challenge for the Goalie is to only associate with the word just shot at him or her, and not with an earlier word.

If the Goalie appears to have associated with an earlier word, or if he or she hesitates or stumbles, then the other players can shout, “Goal!!” Another student then becomes the Goalie.

Continue to play until five goals are scored.

Objectives:

To free the mind from notions of being clever or witty; to encourage a direct response to impulse; to put a player in the hot-seat to train his her performative impulses; to challenge and support fellow players.

Comments:

Goalie is most fun when the Goalie is a team player—prepared, performative, positive and open to offers. This is why the game is sometimes used as “punishment” for players who have been habitually blocking, negative or resistant in rehearsal; it can serve as a wake-up call for the player in question and as a tension releaser for the group.

Adaptations:

The whole game can be reversed in two ways: one, by challenging the Goalie to disassociate from all words; and two, by having one student toss words to the whole lineup of players. The game then becomes a “Red Rover” situation, where the lone player tries to trip up the line, at which point the at-fault player joins him or her on the other side. The game ends when the originally lone player has every other player on his or her side.

Three Noses

Physical warm ups shouldn’t only be about students being prepared and comfortable in their own bodies; rather, they should also be about learning to be comfortable sharing spaces with one another. Three Noses tackles that notion head-on (pun fully intended).

Rules:

Students walk loosely around the room, with no specific pattern or aim.

The director or a chosen caller will announce a number and a body part (remind students to keep it clean and possible), for example, “3 noses!”

Students must then group up and touch the called body parts together (safety first!).

This can manifest in lots of different ways, for example: “4 right legs,” can be different than “4 legs.” Challenge your players.

Objectives:

To get physically warmed up; to connect with other students in the room and to be aware of space can be shared on stage; to joyfully and generously work together to achieve goals; to accept offers of all kinds, whether physical, verbal or otherwise.

Comments:

Stress that students should use good judgment and caution when coming together, but that enthusiasm is key. Students should treat the game like a “hot potato” situation—they need to jump on the offer of their fellow players’ nose or leg and joyfully add to it with their own nose or leg.

Exercises

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?

 

Because

Because is an excellent game to show the difference between horizontal narrative offers and vertical narrative offers. Vertical narrative offers advance the scene. Horizontal narrative offers take the scene sideways, often derailing a scene completely.

Rules:

Players circle or pair up. First player makes a statement (e.g. “The dishwasher was broken.”) The second player then replys by starting with “Because…” inserts the first players’ statement… and then adds to the story with another offer (e.g. “Because the dishwasher was broken Janet was running out of dishes.”) The next player then repeats the last line, starting with “Because…” and adds another offer to the story. This continues until all of the story elements are covered.

Objectives:

To eliminate the problem of shelving caused by horizontal narrative offers.

Comments:

Make sure your group uses all of the offers, not just the last offer made, as it will remind them of the focus.

Practice Games

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.

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.