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

Flock Dance

A physical warm-up that also works on group mind.

Rules:

Students arrange themselves in a “flying V” with one person at the front of the stage and the others staggered behind them, like a flock of birds.

Player at the front begins leading a dance (either to a stereo or to music that they hum or sing themselves).

The other players follow the leader, duplicating their movements as closely as possible.

After 15-20 seconds (or when the song changes, if you’ve got a stereo and a “DJ”), a new leader moves into the front until each player has had a chance to try leading.

Objectives:

To attack and commit to the moment; to be aware of leadership and to take initiative; to let go of habitual physicality and be aware of physical offers; to share the stage.

Comments:

Flock dance is about finding a balance between leaders and followers, so in as much as followers should be aware of the leader, so should the leader be aware of his/her followers and ensure that they are supported.

Safety is also a concern, as the flock will be watching the head bird.

Also, this is a silly physical warm-up. Stress the silliness and the commitment required to make it work.

Rapid Fire Freeze

This is a variation on a classic performance game…

Rules:

Two players begin a scene. Once the scene is minimally established, an off-stage player yells “freeze”. The on-stage improvisors freeze in their last physical position. The off stage player enters, taps one character out, takes their exact physical position and then justifies it while establishing a new scene. Once this new scene is established, the process repeats itself.

Objectives:

To practice establishing scenes through exploration of environments or activities, and to practice justifying physical positions on the stage.

Comments:

Don’t wait for a great idea, call freeze as soon as the new scene has been established.

Adaptations:

Blind Freeze: Two players on stage, the rest in a line against the back wall. The first improvisor in line turns their back on the stage, and when it sounds as though the scene has been established they yell “freeze.” They then go in and take the position of one of the players, seeing it for the first time, and initiate a new scene.

Exercises

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.

5 Element Game

The Five Element game trains and creates natural impulses for story telling.

Rules:

The players get in groups of 3. Two players create a one minute scene while the third player calls out the elements of the Basic Scene Structure as they are created. One player starts by exploring the physical environment of an activity. The observer calls out “Setting.” The second player enters as a complimentary character, thus creating a relationship. Once this relationship is created the watching player calls out “Characters.” The scene partners then find a problem or obstacle to overcome. They raise the stakes, motivating a solution. Finally, the players find a solution (preferably one that arises from the environment or the characters.) At each step the watching player calls out what element of the Basic Scene Structure is created.

Objectives:

To create the instinct to tell stories within the Basic Scene Structure by focusing solely on advancing between elements.

Comments:

Because of the one minute time limit, this exercise often results more in the narration of action rather than true physicalization. Although this is normally a bad thing, the value lies in the ability to reduce the amount of gags and gossip encountered in the creation of the scene. Raising the Stakes is normally the first element to be forgotten in the heat of the moment. It is therefore one of the elements you must be the most stringent about. You should also be looking for an organic solution. An organic solution comes from within the world of the scene; Deus Ex Machina is the improvisor’s easy way out.

Adaptations:

Five Element Freeze: The Five Element game done with freeze called at the end of every scene and a new player taking a position of one of the frozen players. The player then justifys the position into a new environment/activity.

Gibberish 5 Elements: The Five Element game done while only speaking gibberish.

Silent 5 Element: The Five Element game done in silence (no sound effects.)

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.

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.