Students will be able to tell a consistent and well-formed improvised team story by utilizing the basic elements of storytelling in the improv game “Storyline.”
Finish up any show and tell stories that must be finished. If all have been finished, allow a few rounds of “Liar” to warm up.
Ask the students how “Liar” ties into “Yes, and…”? Inform them that “Yes, and…” is not only a game in improvisation, but it is also a principle. Taking what someone gives you and tying it in without blocking that person in any way is called the yes, and principle in improvisation. Blocking someone means that you either refuse to use what you are given, or you manipulate what you are given to only use a piece of it or not fully receive what is given.
Step 1 (Checking for Understanding/Group Practice): As a class, play “Yes, and…” twice, reviewing storytelling elements needed for a good team story. Remind them that consistency is key in the creation of their stories, as well as the “yes, and…” principle in its entirety (meaning the students must not “block” one another in any way—they cannot change up someone else’s contribution).
Step 2 (Smaller Group Practice): Separate the students into two different circles and have each circle make create two stories each using the game “Yes, and…”. Give both circles the same conflict (such as “there is a fire in the Empire State Building”) for the second story and allow them two minutes to create and finish it (which, of course, means that we will be going around the circle more than once).
Step 3 (Checking for Understanding): Ask the students to be seated. Verbally assess the students’ knowledge of how to make a team story work by assessing what worked in each circle. Questions you may ask include: • How did working in as a full class differ from working in a smaller circle? • What made the story progress? • What made the game fun? • Were there any times where the game wasn’t fun? Why? • What happens when someone doesn’t take what is given to them? • What happens when we move away from what setting and conflict we are given? • How can we make a story as a team instead of as individuals? • How did the second story differ in both groups? How did that happen? (The point here is to bring to the kids’ attention that each story in improv is different. There should not be any point where stories are the same, even if they are given the same conflicts or prompts.)
Step 4/Informal assessment: Teach the students to play “Storyline.” In this game, 4-6 people stand in a line in the middle of the classroom. The class gives a setting and a conflict. The teacher is “the pointer” for the first round. “The pointer” points to one of the people in the line, and that person is the only one allowed to speak. At any point, “the pointer” can change who is telling the story by pointing to someone else in line. The storytellers are responsible for changing as soon as someone new is pointed to—this means even in the middle of a word. This game is to solidify the ideas of creating a cohesive story with a team, as well as bringing the yes, and… principle into a different game. Informally assess the students’ abilities to take what had been given in the story before and to tie it into what they say to create a cohesive story.