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

Rapid Fire Freeze

This is a variation on a classic performance game…

Rules:

Two players begin a scene. Once the scene is minimally established, an off-stage player yells “freeze”. The on-stage improvisors freeze in their last physical position. The off stage player enters, taps one character out, takes their exact physical position and then justifies it while establishing a new scene. Once this new scene is established, the process repeats itself.

Objectives:

To practice establishing scenes through exploration of environments or activities, and to practice justifying physical positions on the stage.

Comments:

Don’t wait for a great idea, call freeze as soon as the new scene has been established.

Adaptations:

Blind Freeze: Two players on stage, the rest in a line against the back wall. The first improvisor in line turns their back on the stage, and when it sounds as though the scene has been established they yell “freeze.” They then go in and take the position of one of the players, seeing it for the first time, and initiate a new scene.

Whoosh/Whoa

A joyful exploration of scene rules and games, and a nice Brain Fry exercise to boot. There are no winners and no losers here!

Rules:

Students stand in a circle.

They are instructed to pass a “whoosh” around the circle, which travels through their fingertips and voices to the player to their left.

Once the whoosh has traveled around a few times, introduce the idea of “Whoa,” which is produced by holding up your hands to block a “Whoosh.” When someone says, “Whoa,” the “Whoosh” must switch directions and go the opposite way.

After the students adapt to this, further actions are as follows: Ramp, which is sent over the head of the next player, skipping that player and landing on the next one; Tunnel, which causes the next three players to turn sideways (creating a tunnel through their legs) and landing the next Whoosh four players over; Volcano, which causes all players to run to the middle and erupt outwards and back into the circle, continuing the Whoosh from the last position; Banished!, in which a player points to another and “banishes” him or her from the circle. The banished student then finds a new place in the circle. (Banished can also be used when a student misses a pass or fumbles.)

For more, see the Adaptations section below.

Objectives:

To mentally warm up; to make offers and “sell” them; to fail joyfully; to accept offers and to find the games within the game; to connect to your fellow players through a shared game experience.

Comments:

This game is handy shorthand for the concept of “games” or “rules” that govern scenes. It helps to show that any game or rule can be acceptable within a scene if it is played and accepted to the fullest. The students get the most out of it when they accept that they can’t “win” the game, but they can revel in the playing of it. A great game for teaching the idea that, “There are no bad offers, just bad follow-ups.”

Adaptations:

Once students have adapted to all the different types of rules, they can invent their own, which should be accepted by the rest of the circle and incorporated into regular game play. The student should “sell” the new rule, so that his/her fellow players can be sure to follow up.

Some previous rules which have been “sold” and added include: Baby Pig, in which the player lets a “baby pig” loose to run beneath the feet of all players in the circle, and back into its owner’s arms; Accent/Language/Character/Genre- based Whooshing/Whoa-ing (which is, of course, joyfully copied by the next player); Dance Breaks, and etc. The possibilities are essentially endless. Have fun with it!

Exercises

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.)

30 Second Scene Starts

Two of five elements, drilled.

Rules:

Two students are brought up onstage. Players take approximately 30 seconds or so to set up the first two elements of the Five Elements (WHERE AND WHO). Exercise ends when students have established a clear Where and Who.

Objectives:

To establish a clear Where and Who; to learn about the beginnings of Five Element scenework; to give and accept offers.

Comments:

This is an opportunity for students to explore the beginnings of scenes without the pressure of finding problems and resolutions. Students should avoid hesitation and jump right into position, even if they don’t have an idea. It’s not about being funny, it’s about clarity—the clearer the scene start, the clearer the scene will be. The humour will come out of specific characters in a specific place interacting.

Practice Games

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.

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.