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

Trifecta

Trifecta is an exercise in attack and idea association that targets impulse, offers and stage pictures all at once!

Rules:

Students create a backline.

With or without a suggestion, a student will step forward and physically create something, announcing what they are. For example, a student might step forward and make fists at their sides, announcing, “I am a fire hydrant.”

A second student then adds to that picture by creating a complimentary idea to the first offer. There should be no hesitation. For example, “I am a dog.” The student might sidle up to the “hydrant” and lift their leg.

A third student then offers a complimentary idea to those two, such as, “I am a hot summer’s day.”

After the third idea has been created, the first student (in this case, the hydrant) will choose one of the other two ideas to take off stage. For example, “I’ll take the dog.” The hydrant and the dog leave the stage.

A new set of ideas begins with the remaining student reiterating what they are, as in, “I am a hot summer’s day.” A new set of two ideas grows from there, related to hot summer’s day but unrelated to hydrant or dog.

The game continues from there, with the first (i.e.: the remaining) student in each trifecta choosing one of the other two and taking them away.

Objectives:

To make offers or add to offers using impulses and not ideas of what is “funny” or “clever.” To create compelling and theatrical stage pictures from nothing.

Comments:

Trifecta works best by moving quickly and with a great deal of attack/salesmanship/performative energy. Students should present their ideas as though to an audience, and as though it were the best idea ever. The pace should be swift and hard-hitting, like a batting cage of ideas, but with a mind to creating great stage pictures, too.

Adaptations:

A more advanced version (which is more an exercise than a warm-up) is to aim for “scene starts” in your trifecta, that is, to create characters, in a space, with a problem or event. For example, if “I am hydrant,” (place) then the next person would be “two new firemen, on their first call,” (characters), and the third would be “a wild, out of control fire.” Basically, if you can see a good scene emerging from it, it’s a great trifecta. The hydrant would still choose someone to take away, and the challenge becomes to find a reason for that element to be in a different scene start. For example, if the “wild, out of control fire” is left, then someone might add, “A totally rockin’ nighttime beach party” (place) and “a couple of surfers,” (people).

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

Mirrors

Mirroring is often one of the first exercises improvisers learn and also, unfortunately, one of the first they discard. Mirroring is a fabulous connection device to get teams members working together. As players become more advanced expand mirroring into more adventurous territory rather than abandoning it as a beginner’s game.

Rules:

Partners stand facing each other . One player leads, the other mirrors (or imitates) the action simultaneously. Switch leaders upon moderator’s command without resetting physically.

Objectives:

To flex player’s ability to communicate through movement. To allow players to express impulses through movement.

Comments:

Players who are leading should try to allow for impulses for the entire body, using levels and different speeds. Variety will allow for greater control and focus. There is no rule that states players have to be 2 feet from each other, nor is there a rule that states that the leader cannot, after a little warm-up, alternate speeds in order to create a better mental workout for their partner. Followers should always be one fraction of a step ahead in order to keep the movement simultaneous.

Adaptations:

Follow the Follower: Players start by alternating leaders on the command of a moderator until the moderator calls out “Follow the Follower.” Each player, in fractionally anticipating the other players moves, will amplify their partners unconscious movement until the chain reaction creates fully extended movement. Mirror With Sound: Players can add sound when they feel they are ready. Sound should be as varied as the movement.

Status Entrances

The next step in status work—observation and changing of habitual status.

Rules:

Students create a backline. Have each improviser enter the playing area with an obvious status choice. Once you feel they have clearly established status, ask the next improviser to take a turn. Have each student try high and low status at least once.

Objectives:

To use simple physical changes to indicate status; to establish strong status at the beginning of scenes.

Comments:

Director should push students to play a status they are uncomfortable with or use the least. More advanced students can try playing a low status character who behaves in a high status way and vice versa, to show the subtleties of status and how it can manifest in scenes.

Practice Games

Typewriter

This is the classic third person narrative game.

Rules:

Get a suggestion from audience (e.g. Fictional title for a story.) One player is the writer and narrates the story. The other members of the team perform the actual scene that is being told including the dialogue. Players pass the advancing of the story back and forth between narrator and stage until the story has been told.

Objectives:

To explore the principle of narration and work as a team to advance a story.

Comments:

One of the first hesitations a new team will have is to take over the scene from the stage. Most new players will just want the narrator to tell them what to do thus ridding themselves of any need to create a story. It is very important to get all of the players to advance the scene.

Moving People

Rules:

Audience members or team-mates provide the locomotion for the improvisers on stage. Improvisers may not move any part of their own bodies (except to provide dialogue by moving their mouths). Movers should put the “puppets” in challenging positions, and puppets should challenge the puppeteers with their verbal endowments.

Objectives:

To improvise and justify a complete scene within the rules of the game. This game focuses on the team’s story telling ability.

Comments:

Be ready for anything. Tell a STORY: this game risks becoming a series of justifications with no through line. Focus on the elements of story structure, while staying within the rules of the game.