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

Old School

A nice verbal and impulse warm-up that lets students flex their rap muscles.

Rules:

Students stand in a circle, and begin by letting out a Beastie Boys-style intro (students might need to listen to a few BB songs to get the hang of the rhythm): “Ba da da da da da da da da da! Ba da da da da da da da da da!”

A player initiates with a verse, for example, “Woke up in the morning and I went to school,” (All: “Ba da da da da da da da da da!”)

The player to his/her left then rhymes a new verse: “But first I took a dive in my swimming pool.” (All: “Ba da da da da da da da da da!”)

Play continues around the circle, with players rhyming to the first verse.

If a player slips up, then the intro happens again, and the offending player starts a new rhyme.

Play continues until you win a Grammy (or as long as you want).

Objectives:

To commit to and sell an offer; to use impulses to create rhyming verse; to support fellow players by adding to their offer.

Comments:

Half the fun of Beastie Boys is performing your verse with the same boastful, rap-tastic presentation typical of a rap battle. Students should be urged to give 110% energy to this game, because they can sell a bad rhyme with a good presentation (a useful skill on stage!).

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.

Exercises

Status A/B Walk

An introduction to concepts of status in scenework.

Rules:

Divide the group into two halves, Group A and Group B. Ask both groups to walk around the space, but with certain directives. Without revealing which group is high status or low status, direct Group A to move about the space using high status indicators (maintaining eye contact with those they pass, little or no blinking, direct, confident strides, etc.). Direct Group B to move about the space using low status indicators (head lowered, rapid, darting eye movement, taking up as little space as possible, touching of the face, etc.). Have the group play out a group party scene using these directives and have them talk to at least three people at the party. Debrief and discuss. Switch groups and repeat.

Objectives:

To explore concepts of status; to see how physicality contributes to status in characters.

Comments:

Status can strongly define and influence both a character and a scene. Most students are already playing it to some extent before the concept is introduced; however, giving them the tools to explore it more seriously can help heighten status work in scenes. Students should be encouraged to use status in a non-verbal and physical way, as opposed to being extremely chatty in the party scene.

Adaptations:

There are many ways to explore concepts of high and low status. Take a look at some of the other status exercises on the site, and feel free to blend and adjust them to suit your group’s needs.

Yes, And

A fundamental exercise teaching improvisers how to properly accept offers and contribute to the scene.

Rules:

Put the players in pairs. One student will start by making a statement such as, “We are going on a vacation.” The other will follow up by first saying, “Yes, and…” agreeing with the first statement and adding new information. “Yes, and we are spending a week in Paris.” The players will go back and forth making “Yes and” declarations until they reach a natural conclusion.

Objectives:

To show how simple and effective the concept of “Yes and” is in improvisation. To make a habit of always accepting with new information.

Comments:

Encourage the students to respond to what was just said and expand on that idea, as opposed to listing a series of disconnected ideas. In the example above, the students might get into the trap of just listing activities they did in Paris, “Yes and we arrive at the Eiffel Tower.” “Yes and we eat fine cheese.” “Yes and we see Versailles.”

It is more effective to explore the first idea, “Yes and we arrive at the Eiffel Tower.” “Yes and we take the stairs all the way up.” “Yes and we can see the whole city.” It allows a story to reveal itself.

Also, encourage the students to physicalize the actions of the story and make statements in the present tense.

Adaptations:

This game can also be played in a circle or in small groups.

 

Practice Games

Expand and Advance

A game emphasizing the importance of expanding as well as advancing.

Rules:

Get two or three players up to do a scene. At certain points in the scene, the director will call out “Expand” or “Advance”. When “Expand” is called out, the players have to expand on the details of the action or idea that they are currently exploring. With dialogue and action, they can reveal details about the current beat. They can explore how they are affected by what is happening, reveal stakes, be descriptive of the environment, anything that enriches the current moment and does not forward the narrative.

When “Advance” is called, the players can then move to the next unit of action in the scene. They can allow changes to happen that force the characters to move on from what they have been exploring and take action.

Objectives:

This games gives players a sense of how much to expand on beats before moving the story forward. They will experience the balance between the two important and connected concepts of expanding and advancing.

Comments:

As the director, you can try to call out expand and advance when you think it is appropriate, or you can try experimenting and challenging the players to expand on moments they would normally gloss over. Just remind the students that the game is an exercise and in practice, they should find the moments to expand and advance organically.

Adaptations:

You can also try this game as a monologue exercise.

 

Sounds Like a Song

A painless entrée into the world of musical improv.

Rules:

Students perform a straightforward open scene. At any point, the director (or audience, depending) can shout, “Sounds like a song!” (Usually this happens on a line of dialogue.) The student who spoke the previous line or did the previous action must then sing a song using that line/action as a suggestion for the song. Songs are short, 30 seconds or so. Scene continues from there, until “Sounds like a song!” is shouted again.

Objectives:

To justify within a scene; to over-accept offers; to hone singing skills; to listen.

Comments:

Students are urged to throw themselves into the songs, Broadway-style. This is not to say that every song should be a huge, bombastic, Fosse-inspired dance number, but that every song should be performed at 120%. Ballads and torch songs are fine, as well. The emotionality of the song should be related to the story and character. Some improvisers are terrified of singing onstage. A good warm up to this game is Hot Spot (see warm ups).