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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

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.


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

Family Portraits

Characters are created in more ways than just what we say. This exercise proves that.

Rules:

Students make a backline. Director gets a suggestion related to genre (40s gangsters, sci-fi shipmates) or to character trait (the secret family, the silly family). While the director counts down from 10 slowly, the students arrange themselves in a “family portrait” related to the suggestion. Students should look at each other and make a strong character choice within that world, freezing in a tableau at the end After the countdown, we freeze the portrait and the director states what he/she thinks the characters all are. Students then un-freeze and explain who their character actually was.


Objectives:

To create believable characters; to commit; to accept and forward offers; group mind; to make non-verbal, emotional/physical offers.


Comments:

The emphasis should be on finding unique, believable characters within the suggestion, and contrasting or complimenting the characters being created by the other students. This should lead to discoveries within character/genre worlds beyond stereotypes. For example, the mobster family probably has a bunch of tough guys in it, but maybe they have a sweet little mother, too? Or perhaps a skinny, mathematician brother who’s not in the business? By using powers of observation instead of just speaking character choice, students can find new ways of approaching character.


Adaptations:

Can also be a school picture, work portrait, etc.


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 eleminate 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

Word Machine

Rules:

A member of the audience (or one member of the team) is invited on stage to become the Word Machine. They offer random single words whenever a player taps one of their outstretched fists. The players begin a scene and tap the word machine’s hand mid-speech, the moment they need an offer. The word machine says a word and the player justifies this word in the scene.


Objectives:

To justify the word immediately and create a full scene.


Comments:

The game is most fruitful if the word machine is used for finding the ideas to establish the elements of the Basic Scene Structure. It is especially great for creating problems and solutions. It is very important that all offers from the Word Machine are used within the scene.


Adaptations:

Pillars Two word machines stand at either side of the stage ready to call out words.


Fairy Tale Perspective

The fairy tale perspective game is a perfect first step into perspective narration.

Rules:

A famous fairy tale and the secondary character whose perspective we will see it from are solicited from the audience. The Secondary character begins a monologue which introduces them as the narrator and describes the environment and characters. As these elements of the story are described by the narrator, the other players create them on stage in preparation for the first scene. The narrator then breaks from the narration and enters the scene. The narrator moves from scene to narration to forward the story and to provide the audience with background information or to explain their inner feelings.


Comments:

This is a truly excellent and challenging game, but not the best game for a full team to be able to create a story as it relies quite a bit on the narrator. To add life to this game it is important that all of the other players focus on feeding the narrator with offers that forward the use of the audiences suggestions.