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

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!

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

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.

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

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.

Sit, Stand, Kneel, Lie

Rules:

Four players begin a scene. One player must always be sitting, one standing, one lying down, and one kneeling. When a player changes position the player whose position they’ve adopted must justify their movement into a new position. No two players are allowed to be in the same position at once.

Objectives:

To improvise and justify within the rules of the game while creating a scene.

Comments:

A great game for reminding players of the use of levels and to be observant of their team mates movement.