Sounds & Atmosphere exercises

Beyond Objects: Environment is about more than objects. What sounds fill the space? Ambient noises? Loud music? A series of unexpected explosions?

What about the atmosphere? Is it hot? Raining? Low gravity?

Suggested Exercises:

SOUNDSCAPE – Sit players in a circle, give them a location and have them build out the noises of that location. It’s basically one vignette in a Bat opening. Emphasize fleshing out the space. Remind them to share the air.
• Let them create an environment without a suggestion, building on their contributed sounds
Experience the cacophony – push them to explore all the different types of sound: words, mechanics, organics, ambiance, etc.


BIOSPHERE (a tweak of SPACE JUMP) – A short form game focused on exploring Atmosphere.  One player enters stage, miming their reaction to an atmosphere (temp, precipitation, pressure, etc.) – ex: shivering and saying, “It’s so cold in the arctic zone.”  A second player enters and changes which room of the Biosphere the two players are in – ex: trying to cover her head while saying, “Stupid rain forest area.”  Player One must immediately accept Player Two’s new reality.  A third player enters and establishes a brand new atmosphere for all three players to accept and react to.  Repeat with a fourth and fifth player.  Then have the fifth player leave stage to return the remaining players to the fourth atmosphere/environment.  Then the fourth player leaves, returning the scene to the third atmosphere.  Repeat until the initial player is back in the initial atmosphere/environment.


  • Atmosphere is the least utilized active element in improv – Do yourself the favor of engaging in it.
  • Explore the options – push them to explore all the different types of atmosphere: temp, precipitation, pressure, dust, fog, etc.
  • Feel it, just don’t speak to it – feel the drops of rain, become crippled by the cold, sweat in the heat, etc.
  • Silence is fun – Whether as Player One engaging environment in the first scene or Player Four joining the chorus, put more focus on embodying your reactions than explaining them.
  • Again, enthusiastic acceptance of another player’s contribution is improv’s superpower. Immediately accept whatever world you’re brought to and the audience will love you for it.
  • More people on stage necessitates more agreement – You can’t have four or more people on stage all with different perspectives/characters; it just gets too messy. Encourage players to agree to each other’s perspectives and mirror each other’s physicality to minimize the amount of “stuff” on stage and to focus the scene.
  • MORE PHYSICAL THE BETTER – players having to justify their physical position/pose moving through and back through the scenes is part of the fun.
    • In the sequence’s assent, it’s fun to transpose players’ physical positions into new worlds. Ex: Shielding your eyes in the Desert Zone becomes waving away mosquitoes in the Jungle Zone.
    • In transitioning back through the Sequence, a scene that had fallen into the doldrums is sparked back up when players leap to their previous stage positions in the Volcano Zone.
    • In the sequence’s assent, a scene of characters running around in eruption-fearing panic in the Volcano Zone transitioned into a scene of characters prancing around trying to catch Unicorn Butterflies in the Magical Zone. In transitioning back through the sequence, characters closely studying Unicorn Butterflies trapped in their fists become characters hunched over a lave-spewing volcano as if surrounding a trashcan fire, blowing in their cupped hands for the warmth (“I thought it would be hotter.”)


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