June 27, 2005 5:30 PM   Subscribe

Hey Theatre Geeks! What are your favorite warm-up/improv theatre games? Bonus points if they work well for kids!
posted by stray to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Boing Zoom Modigliani, always a good one.
posted by papercake at 5:40 PM on June 27, 2005

Tongue twisters!

You love New York, Unique New York, You love Unique New York... is my favorite.

Also, singing scales is a good warm-up- I always enjoyed the one

(same note) Who's the best one in the show?
(up and down five notes) Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me
::key change and repeat::
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:54 PM on June 27, 2005 [1 favorite]

Fruit basket was always my favorite. We played it in high school theatre, but it's really more of a 'get active' game. It'd work for anything.

Everyone gets assigned a type of fruit. There is someone in the middle of the circle with everyone else sitting around them. They choose a fruit and yell it. If they yell peaches for example, all of the peaches get up and dash for an empty chair. The person still standing calls the next fruit. Kind of like musical chairs.

A more theatre focused game is questions in which two or more people are given a scenario and they can only speak in questions. Good times.
posted by amandaudoff at 6:49 PM on June 27, 2005

My favorite is one that I refer to as the 'Rube Goldberg Variations' - it may have a real name of which I am unaware. One person gets up and starts with a repetitive motion (with or without sound effects) as if they are part of a machine. One by one, others add themselves to the machine, playing off the motions/sounds already going. If you have a shy group, you may have to recruit the first few people to go up.

What's Boing Zoom Modigliani? Is it anything like Donkey Elephant 1776?
posted by expialidocious at 7:31 PM on June 27, 2005

You probably know of these books already, but I'll list them anyway: Viola Spolin's books of improv games. Definitely worth checking out for ideas.
posted by kdern at 8:19 PM on June 27, 2005

Response by poster: Sawweeeet, thanks guys.
posted by stray at 8:23 PM on June 27, 2005

stefnet's site has the goods. First on his list is "Yes, and..." which is a great game. Improv has a tendency to get negative, combative, and violent. Without form, games tend to escalate until everyone is killing or dying. "Yes and..." shows that improv is about being open to and reinforcing what your scene partner is doing, rather than bulldozing with your own agenda.

For those who didn't follow, "Yes and..." is an improv scene where every line must begin with Yes, and. like this:

"We're making cookies"

"Yes, and I'm sure the President will enjoy them"

"Yes, and then we'll get out of this terrible job in the White House, and take over the world..."

as opposed to usual improv scene:

"We're making cookies"

"I hate cookies. That's a stupid idea. I'm ruining your cookies."

[end of scene, tears]
posted by sol at 5:19 AM on June 28, 2005

Depends on how old the kids are. If they are under twelvish, email me for more info. If they are plus twelve, same as novice adults. I like "family portrait' - low pressure becuase you work in a group and you don't have to talk: Get eight folks up and yell out "A Family of ____" and eveyone hits a pose. Repeat. "Vroom" is funzy. Stand in a circle. Person starting turns quickly to the left or right and makes a vrooom car noise. Continues around the circle till someone says "eeert!"(brake sound), then the direction switches and the next person "vrooms" the other way. You can get tricky by juxtaposing your body language with the sounds. Like, "vroom" but switch directions. . .it'll trick people, leading to big laughs. You could try "what are you doing": Two person game. One person starts a simple action. The other person says "what are you doing" and the first perosn says something that they are clearly not doing. The next person starts that action; repeat. If you say what you are actually doing, you're out.

So hard to explain!
posted by rainbaby at 5:43 AM on June 28, 2005

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