Students will demonstrate their understanding of listening and trusting their instincts by playing different improv games.
Invite everyone to come sit on the floor in a circle. Play Fortune Cookie. Ask if anyone has played the game where together, as a group, they create a story by saying one word at a time, going around the circle. (Most have) Explain that this is like that, but instead of telling a story, they will be telling someone’s fortune. The first person to go will announce whose fortune is being told (ex: This is Mrs. King’s fortune) and then the next person will begin the prediction using only one word and then the next and so on and so on until the entire class has decided that the fortune is complete. At that point, when it feels done, everyone will clasp their hands together, bow, and whisper “yes yes yes yes yes yes yes,” because it is such a wise fortune. As soon as they are getting the hang of it, tell the students that they can now ask questions, like it is a magic eight ball (ex: What will my wedding day be like?” etc.) Tell the students that the goal isn’t to try to be funny, but to go with their impulses, to listen to the sentence and try to fit it, and to do it is as fast as they can. Make ground rules of anything that can’t be said (potty humor, in particular — “poop” is a funny word to 7th graders).
Ask the students to go back to their chairs. Begin a discussion about the exercise by asking the following questions: What did you have to do in order for the fortune to progress? Did you have to listen to those around you? Go with your impulses?
Stand in front of the students with hands open and say “I need things.” Ask for five different objects. Students will bring you things like shoes, pencils, books, notebooks, etc. None should be the same. Instruct them to stand in a circle. Tell them that they all need to learn the script — A: This is a _______! B: A what? A: A ________! B: OH! A (new)_______! The person in the middle will present their item (pencil) to someone in the circle, insisting that it is something else (a designer handbag) and treating it as such. (This is a designer handbag! A what? A designer handbag!) Then, the person in the circle will accept the item, announcing it as a new item (OH! A hotdog!) and will treat the item like the new thing until they give it to someone else. Allow this to go on for a little while, and then slowly starting adding items so that there are eventually five different things being presented.
Ask the students to sit on the floor, and conduct a discussion asking the following questions. Ask the students if it was it easy to come up with names for the gifts? Did it get easier or harder for them as you went along? Why?
Have all of the students go and sit back in their chairs.
Ask for two volunteers. Explain to the students that one of these students is a visiting foreign diplomat. They have come to tell you all about their homeland and customs, all in gibberish. The other is his/her translator, and they will tell you everything that is being said. Let the students demonstrate this. Ask the students to get with a partner, and then ask each partner to find another partnership. One person in each partner is the gibberish speaker and the other is the translator. They have two minutes to converse this way. Ring the bell and tell them to switch partners
Have a discussion with the students about what worked and what didn’t? Was your partner “listening” to you when you were speaking gibberish? How were you able to know what to say, as the translator?
Tell the students that they are going to combine the two games, and we are now going to play gibberish gift-giving. Have the students make two lines facing each other. One line (A) is the gift giver and the other (B) is the gift receiver. The person from A gives the person from B a present, indicating only with gestures and their gibberish how big it is and how heavy it is. The person from B opens the present and shows us what was inside with their gestures, their expressions, and their gibberish. As soon as the giver gives and the receiver receives, they go to the end of the opposite line. Let each student go through each line at least once.
How would you apply what we did today to theatre? What do you think this has to do with acting? Why would following our impulses be important for actors? What was the hardest part of today?