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.

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.

Exercises

Following

The act of Following is the next step in the evolution of Mirroring. Partners need not face each other in Following, which allows for an even greater range of possibilities for movement when leading and a greater amount of interpretation when following. Through this work players can communicate and connect without the need for sound.

Rules:

Players, in partners, stand next to (not facing) each other. One player leads while the other player follows the action simultaneously. Upon the moderator’s command the leader and the follower switch.

Objectives:

To flex player’s ability to communicate through movement. To allow players to express impulses through movement. To allow players to explore the boundaries of simultaneous movement.

Comments:

Players do not have to be two feet from each other, nor is it a rule that the follower must keep constant eye contact on (or with) the leader. In actual fact for the follower to get simultaneous movement they must anticipate the action instead of echoing the action. Be sure to play around with what it means to follow someone… Follow, create, enjoy!

Adaptations:

Group Following (follow the leader): 1. One player is the leader the group follows. 2. Moderator calls for a switch in leadership. 3. Group finds new leader within group by following and amplifying first movements in group until one person is left leading.

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

More Specific

A game to practice making specific offers.

Rules:

Get a few players up to perform a scene. At any point during the scene, the audience or director can yell out, “More specific!” and the last offer that was made must be redone in a more specific way. “More specific” can be called out multiple times until the players are specific enough. For example: “It’s over there.” -> “It’s on the counter.” -> “The watch is on the marble counter.” -> “The Rolex is on the brand new marble counter.”

Objectives:

To show how being specific can open up new possibilities in a scene, reveal character and make scenes more interesting.

Comments:

More specific doesn’t always mean more elaborate. Make sure the players are getting specific about the offer that was just made rather than adding in outside details. Try calling out more specific on physical offers as well.

 

Backwards Scene

Rules:

The team creates an entire story/scene in reverse, starting with the conclusion of the story and improvising their 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.