Trusting Impulses


Students will demonstrate their ability to trust their impulses by participating in a ring master scene.


Materials Needed

Blue (or any colored) towel
Assessment Rubric


Lesson Directions

Anticipatory Set/Hook




Have the students form a circle standing up. Introduce them to the game “Samurai.” To play Samurai the person beginning the round will say “Samurai’s Unite” at this point all student in the circle must put their hands together, bow to the center, and make a Samurai sound (ahh, ommm, haaa, chaaa, etc.) After that, a person starts with hands together, cutting the air downward towards another person with a Samurai noise. The person accepts it by cutting up with their hands together and another noise and the people on either side must cut into the person, also making a noise. The game should have a clear beat, and when someone gets off or doesn’t react as they should, their out. This happens until 2-3 people are left. When students get out instruct them to still watch and cheer on the students still left in the game. Remind students that they should go as fast and as loud as they can.




Discussion: Was this difficult? Why or why not? Was it fun? Did you feel anything inhibiting you? Did you find yourself thinking ahead of the game at all? Did you live in the moment? When did you do better at the game? How does this game relate to improvisation and acting?


Group Practice: The students will do the same scream tag we did last lesson with a twist. It’s normal tag, except that when someone gets tagged, they have to scream and this time fake a death. Again, they must be specific and try to add detail. Urge the students to really commit. Everyone wants to die on stage in acting, and now’s their chance! The aim of this activity is to get the students to really follow their impulses and then fully commit to them. I don’t want to see half-effort deaths. Remind them that this is an advanced class and you hope that they will really work on not being inhibited or embarrassed.


Guided Practice: Everyone will get a partner. (Hopefully everyone is panting and out of breath at this point) ask everyone to start a scene, but the catch is that before everything you say, you must move first. It can be any sort of movement, and it shouldn’t make any sense, just the first thing that comes to your mind. Let your body follow its impulses, and don’t apologize for them. Walk around the room observing and giving help and instruction where needed. When you see a group working well together, say “Freeze” and ask the rest of the class to freeze and watch the partnerships scene for a minute or so. Then let everyone go back to their scenes and work. Do this a few times as time permits.


Discussion: Have the groups come together. What was that activity like? What did the movement do to your scenes? Was it hard? Did it make it easier to follow your impulses? Did you really let yourself go? Why/Why not? Did it help or hinder you?


Group Practice: This is the blue (or any colored) towel exercise! Everyone must get into a large circle. One student must volunteer to be the drummer, while the other class members in the circle will create sound effects to go with the drumming. 3-4 students will get in the middle of the circle with the blue towel. Instruct them to create, using the beat and music behind them, a non-human scene with the towel. Remind them to not over think anything, just use the towel and move as they see fit. Follow their impulses and let them flow into movement, using the towel together. Continue to do this until everyone has had a turn in the middle.


Discussion/Check for Understanding: What did you feel during this activity? What was difficult or easy for you? When did you see classmates following impulses and taking risks? Did you ever feel yourself over thinking things? Why do you think we do that? Were you tired doing all these in a row? What happened when you got tired and adrenaline kicked in? Did you stop thinking so much and just do when you were tired?




Assessment: To see if the students have understood the concept of following their impulses and committing to them, they will do a ring master scene. A student volunteer will get up to go first, and the teacher will begin by giving them a circus idea. For example, “You are the ringmaster of the Prairie Dog Circus!” The student will then, for a full minute (or two depending on time) explain the different acts in their circus. The goal is not to stop to think. They must keep talking without needing to be prompted. When their turn is up, they will then sit down, another student will get up, and the previous student will then give them the theme for the circus. The clock will then start ticking.

*Scored of 4 or 2 may be given as needed.




  • Made a clear effort to trust their impulses.
  • Did not stop to think about what to say next for more than a second or two.
  • Committed to their impulses.
  • Didn’t try to be clever, but rather went with the first thing that came to mind.
  • Made an effort to trust their impulses.
  • Possibly had to be prompted to continue because he/she stopped and said they couldn’t think of anything more.
  • Possibly did not commit fully to their choices/impulses.
  • Had to be prompted several times to continue talking.
  • Did not make a real effort.
  • Simply laughed or refused to take the exercise seriously.



What inhibits us from trusting our impulses? Does freedom in acting come from trusting impulses and committing to them? Why or why not? What is something new you discovered today? Did anyone feel like they improved in this area? Did it feel good to just try and stop over thinking things? How can you use this in your acting?