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

iWordball

Word Ball is the first step in adding language into impulse work by way of free association. Similar in structure to Zoom, this game asks players to vocalize their first impulse without hesitation.

Rules:

Students get in to circles of 5-10 standing facing the center. One player starts by saying a word to another player within the circle. The player that receives the word will immediately call out their first impulse without hesitation to another player. Continue the circuit.

Objective:

To connect players to their impulses and to free players from the perceived necessity to be creative.

Comments:

So much focus is made on the end result in improvisation, achieving the fantastic scene, that we forget that the process by which we free original thoughts begins by freeing all thoughts. Spontaneity does not equal originality, and free association games allow players to be spontaneous without trying to be original.

Adaptations:

Word Ball 2: A player receiving the energy from across the circle must pass the energy to either the player on their left or right, and that player may then send the energy across the circle.

Maverick Word Ball: Players roam/run about the room passing words at random. Word Ball Story Players tell a story one word at a time using the Word Ball passing technique.

Numbers/21

A quick and easy focus, group mind and teamwork exercise.
Rules:
Have students stand in a tight circle, shoulder to shoulder (or with arms around each others’ shoulders, if students are comfortable with one another).
Students look down and count to 21 by having one person at a time randomly contributing one number. There is no pattern to it, and students are expected to contribute the next number when appropriate (they may, for example, say two numbers in a row if the need is there).
If students speak at the same time, have them start over from one.
Objectives:
To develop group mind, focus and listening; to embrace the moment.
Comments:
Beyond the objectives, Numbers is also an opportunity to demonstrate that each performer is contributing to the success of the game, much like in scene work. There must be give and take by every member of the group in order to be successful. When the group isn’t working as a whole even something as simple as counting to 21 can be an enormous challenge. Numbers can therefore be a humbling experience for teams who think they’ve got it all together when they don’t. Numbers must be said with confidence, and no other talking or communication should be allowed. Watch for habitual patterns in the game, and try to change them.

A quick and easy focus, group mind and teamwork exercise.

Rules:

Have students stand in a tight circle, shoulder to shoulder (or with arms around each others’ shoulders, if students are comfortable with one another).

Students look down and count to 21 by having one person at a time randomly contributing one number. There is no pattern to it, and students are expected to contribute the next number when appropriate (they may, for example, say two numbers in a row if the need is there).

If students speak at the same time, have them start over from one.

Objectives:

To develop group mind, focus and listening; to embrace the moment.

Comments:

Beyond the objectives, Numbers is also an opportunity to demonstrate that each performer is contributing to the success of the game, much like in scene work. There must be give and take by every member of the group in order to be successful. When the group isn’t working as a whole even something as simple as counting to 21 can be an enormous challenge. Numbers can therefore be a humbling experience for teams who think they’ve got it all together when they don’t. Numbers must be said with confidence, and no other talking or communication should be allowed. Watch for habitual patterns in the game, and try to change them.

Exercises

The Room

An excellent game for creating shared environments.

Rules:

The first player enters a room and mimetically creates an object that defines the location. The next player enters the room, uses the first object and then creates a second one found in that location. One by one the rest of the players enter, use the previously created objects and create a new one.

Objectives:

To increase the ability to create detailed environments, and to eliminate the problem of having players “walk through tables.”

Comments:

Mimetic abilities are a great tool for the improvisor to create environments on stage. Players should work to achieve a level of clarity in expression without feeling that they need to master the art of mime. Some players tend to create elaborate stories in order to use all their objects, often times destroying the objects or combining the use of two objects in improbable ways. The focus of the exercise is to create a shared environment, not to be funny and creative (often a mask for a desire to avoid the exercise.)

Adaptations:

Have players remain in the environment as characters after they have created their object. Allow players to interact as their characters.

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

Scene with Character Triggers

Applying basic character work to scenes.

Rules:

Two or three students are onstage. Each student in the scene will be given a word. Students will use that word to inspire a character; students are given a moment to repeat the word and to find the physical/vocal elements of that character. Students are then given a general scene suggestion and perform a scene as those characters.

Objectives:

To focus on character as the starting point for a scene; to justify character choices within a world; to support your fellow player; to embrace and heighten the unexpected offers that feed scenes.

Comments:

These scenes are a balancing act, between over accepting the offers of a particular character in a (perhaps unconventional or unexpected) location/situation and creating good scene work on top of all of that. Students should discover their ability to use suggestions in ways they perhaps never thought possible or never thought would work. Embracing this ability is a great step for an improviser to take.

Adaptations:

These characters can also be “interviewed” before the scene begins to help students focus in on who these people are before they are thrust into a scene.

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).