Direction in Improv

Educational Objective:

Students will show their understanding of using direction in improvisation by playing “Hollywood Director”.



Materials Needed:

• Computer with access to internet, projector, and sound
• “How to be a Theatre Director” cued to 50 seconds in:
• “Hollywood Director” clip:




Split the class into two groups and have them play “Bibbity Bibbity Bop” with one another. Let this be played for about ten minutes, urging them to get as fast as they can.




Have the students sit where they are. Ask them to show by a raise of hands how many of them have been in a play before. Ask those students what the role of the director was in that play. Is direction a bad thing? What parts of “Bibbity Bibbity Bop” depend on direction? What about things in “Superheroes”?


Step 1a (Partnered Discussion): Ask the students to partner up and discuss with his or her partner what he or she thinks about having a director be part of improvisation. Ask them to explore the idea of substituting the word “director” with “facilitator.” How does that feel different?
1b (Class Discussion): After about eight minutes, ask the class to share what they discussed and if they came to a conclusion about what role a director would have. What about the word “facilitator” is different than connotation of the word “director”? Which word would they prefer?


Step 2 (Instruction): Ask the students to get into a place where they will be able to clearly see the screen. Inform the class that you will be showing them a video made by a professional director. He is describing what he thinks are the most important functions of a director. Ask them to listen for what they could apply to improvisation. Play the clip “How to be a Theatre Director”, starting at 50 seconds. Only play until 1:53, before he says “the average…”


Step 3 (Discussion): Ask the students what the main points were that could apply to an improvisation setting. Some are listed below:
• Create an environment in which people feel like they can do their best work and to take chances
• Process must be the most enjoyable part of the voyage
• We have time to rehearse
Explain to the students that some improvisation groups do longer forms of improvisation that do not involve short games. This is called “long-form” improvisation, and there are multiple theatre companies that use this in order to create full-length productions that are actually mostly improvised. How might rehearsal be tied into that type of improvisation?


Step 4 (Instruction): Inform that students that they will be using this longer form of improvisation tomorrow, but in order to do that, they must be able to take direction in order to create the best story possible. Teach the students how to play “Hollywood Director.” This is played by having one student be “the angry director” while the other students (up to three) are the “incompetent actors.” The actors are given a scene to improvise (which can be made up by the audience). After the improvised scene, the director comes in and tells the actors to do it in a different style. Up to three different styles can be played before the game is over. Inform the students that you will be looking for their ability to give and take direction and apply it to the scenes that are created as well as their ability to use what they have learned about stage direction to make the scenes more believable to a proscenium audience. Show the “Hollywood Director” clip. Make sure to stop at 4:15, as the last style is not school-appropriate.


Step 5 (Class Practice): Play “Hollywood Director” twice as a class (in proscenium staging), going over good techniques as it is played and taking care of any issues that have to be addressed. The director is able to give whatever school-appropriate style he or she would like–there are no slips given already. The scene can also be made up by the director.



Informal Assessment:

Divide the students into groups of four and ask them to play this game, working on their staging, characters, and taking direction quickly.