Students should demonstrate their ability to improvise using the core rules of improv by leading their own improv game and taking a quiz on the rules.
white/chalk board, bell, pens/chalk
Have students move chairs to the outside edges of the room as soon as they come in and play “Cherry Pickers”–a ‘wake up’ game, where you reach up to the right, middle, left, then in front of you to the right, middle, left, and down near your feet to the right, middle, left (grab with your hands each time like you’re picking cherries) all the while making a “ch” sound each time you reach. If you have music or a pianist it is fun to do this with music, going faster and faster.
Step 1: Have students gather around the white board, sitting down, and ask who has heard of “Improv” before. Have them describe what they think it is. Have them write their answers all over the board.
Step 2: Agree with all appropriate answers and show a clip from “Who’s Line Is It, Anyway?”. Discuss with the class how this improv sketch follows the answers brainstormed on the board. How did it fit? Where was it different than what you thought?
Step 3: Ask, “What made this so good and funny? What did they do, what risks did they take?” This time, write answers on a large sheet of paper.
Step 4: All of these answers could be “rules” for improvisation. Pull from the suggestions the core rules of “Say yes, and,” “Look outward,” “Stay in the present,” and “Keep it clean.” Focus the rest of the lesson on those specific rules of improv.
Step 5: “Say yes, and” — ask what they think it means, what it entails–explain that it is agreeing with your partner and adding on. This keeps a scene moving forward. (add on their good ideas)
Play game[s] to prove this point: Energy Ball. Group stands in a circle and passes a “ball” of energy around the circle. The “ball” can become all shapes, sizes, weights, etc. as it changes hands. Make sure everyone reacts to what they are given before they turn the ball into something else. Emphasize eye contact. We use this game because it demonstrates agreeing with the people around you and adding something on. (After particularly good sets, stop and discuss what risks they students took to make it a good one. This applies to all games.)
Step 6: “Look outward/Make your partner look good” –again, ask what they think it means, what it entails–explain that it is being focused on others and not selfish in a scene, watching what others are doing and letting them have the spotlight. (add on their good ideas)
Game[s]: Party Host. One person is the host and he/she goes outside the room. Others in the scene are given problems (ie can never touch anyone, always has to twirl their hair etc.) and the host comes back in. One guest comes in at a time and the host tries to guess what’s wrong. When he/she does, that guest leaves. We use this game because you really have to try and help the host understand what you are doing.
Step 7: “Stay in the present”–ask what they think it means, what it entails–explain that it is not thinking/talking about past or future, but what you are DOING in the scene. DO something. (add on their good ideas)
Games: I Am Superman. Group stands in a circle and one at a time jumps into the middle and shouts “I’m superman/woman because…[give any reason]!”
Mirror Image. Get into partners and mirror image each other–one leading at a time, but it looks like no one is leading. We use these games because you have to think spontaneously and be focusing hard on what is going on at that moment.
Step 8: “Keep It Clean”–ask what they think it means, what it entails–explain that it is a good rule so that everyone is always comfortable and having safe fun. (add on their good ideas)
Games: Freeze. Start with a “who what where” scene and have students yell freeze when they want to jump in for someone and start a new scene.
Superheros. Kind of like party host, but one person starts out as a super hero with a problem (the class comes up with it) and one at a time random students come in and the student who came in before them comes up with a superhero name for them on the spot. We play these games because it’s more comfortable with things that are clean and we have to practice keeping it clean when we don’t have much time to think.
Step 9/Closure: Split them into groups and have them take turns leading their favorite game, or one they knew before, in their groups. Walk around and observe, giving appropriate and specific praise. If everyone doesn’t get a chance, continue tomorrow.
Split them into groups and have them take turns leading their favorite game, or one they knew before, in their groups. Walk around and observe, giving appropriate and specific praise. If everyone doesn’t get a chance, continue tomorrow.