Freeze, Thank You bold choice exercise

FREEZE, THANK YOU – Two players assume frozen positions on stage. From the wings, another player says, “Freeze,” confidently enters, taps a player on the shoulder to indicate that they should go to the wings, and assumes a new frozen position in relation to the remaining player.
Lessons:
Confidence sells – Don’t worry about making “sense” with your stage picture. Whatever you do confidently appears purposeful.
Acceptance is the easiest choice – Mirroring is a great default. Whatever Player One does, if Player Two also does it, too, it appears purposeful.
Take inspiration from others – Mirror exactly what they do. OR, complementary mirror what they do (she’s banging a drum; I’ll air guitar). OR, contrast – without opposing – what they do (he’s stretching; I’ll make myself small).

Yes And exercises

Agreement is a cornerstone of improvisation. We’re on stage creating something out of nothing. If I create one thing out of the ether then we have something. We want to build that something up and out; we don’t debate the validity of something made up.

Agreement is the improviser’s mantra: “Yes, And.” It’s not Yes “cereal” And “aliens.” Yes, “This porridge is cold,” And “it’s been sitting on the counter for a week.”

We can’t share one mind, but we can make it look like we do if we’re each making a concerted effort to unify all that’s been laid down in a collective direction. Through agreement we can minimize the amount of “stuff” on stage which facilitates focused collaborative building.

“YES, AND” STORY – Everyone stands in a circle. A player starts a story: “Billy loved his turtle.” Starting with the player to the initiator’s left, the group builds the story sentence by sentence, literally saying “Yes, and…” to begin each contribution: “Yes, and Billy and his turtle did everything together.”
Lessons:
Collaborate – a group all heightening a few ideas will reach greater heights than will a group of individuals all focused on their own ideas.
Think back, not forward – the story doesn’t need to get anywhere it just needs to explore where it is. Instead of thinking “What’s next,” think “How can I elaborate on what was just said?”
Callback as Acceptance – referencing what has already been established can be more than any one player’s hilarious new idea. Make each other look good by embracing each other’s details.

I WANT TO SEE, 1, 2, 3 – Everyone stands in a circle. One player begins with “I want to see…” (“an elephant”/ “world peace”). In no set order, players build on this desire with “Yes, and…” (“Yes, and an Asian elephant”/ “Yes, and people making love not war”). After 3 “Yes, and” additions, a player wipes the slate with a brand new “I want to see…” statement.
Lessons:
Share the air – Hesitators, contribute! Stage hogs, give someone else a chance!
Build in one direction – After “Yes, and an Asian elephant,” the group should stay focused on an Asian elephant instead of getting less specific (“Yes, and a big elephant”) or specific in another direction (“Yes, and a carnivorous elephant”).

TWO LINE OFFER AND “YES, AND” SCENES – students form two lines, one on either side of the stage. The player at the head of the stage left line enters stage and makes a statement about who they are, where they are or what else is on stage (“I love being a lumberjack”/“I hate this museum”/“That’s a scary rock”). The player at the head of the stage right line enters and delivers a “Yes, and…” statement (“Yes, and killing trees is awesome”/ “Yes, and the art looks and smells like poop”/ “Yes, and it just moved closer to us”). That’s it. Then the players move to the end of the opposite line.
Variations:
• Players can drop “yes, and” as long as they still embrace and build on each other’s contributions
• Players can have more than one line each
Lessons:
Force agreement – “yes, and” keeps us from arguing, denying, negotiating, etc.
Force choices – there’s no room for questions in “yes, and.” “Yes, and” demands that we add information to the scene.
Repetition alone is heightening – “Yes, and I am also afraid of that rock” is perfectly acceptable. The agreement should be prioritized over cleverness. “Yes, and” me, too is great collaborative building.

Conversation Party channeling self exercise

CONVERSATION PARTY – Players stand on stage in multiple groups of two or three people. Players are “at a party” as themselves, speaking as themselves to other who are also themselves. The teacher conducts focus from one conversation to the next.
Lessons:
Be specific – You don’t have to try so hard to be funny. You just have to be specific. The surprise inherent to improvisation is made even more satisfying when we’re specific in-the-moment.
React – The audience reaction of “I would have said that,” or “I know a woman who would have said that,” is such a satisfying response for any performance medium. In improvisation, that power is compounded as the audience knows that your reaction was “your” reaction in-the-moment.
Connect – don’t just sit in your head waiting for your next turn to speak, listen to what’s going on around you, let it seep in and affect you.
Juxtapose – we don’t have to discuss our differences or negotiate out one “truth.” A party group who loves cats standing next to a group that loves dogs doesn’t need to engage in a fight. The audience sees both groups and wants both heightened next to each other.

21 warm-up

21 – The group (without teacher) huddles in a tight circle and together counts to 21 with players contributing one number at a time. If two people speak at once, the group must start over.
Lessons:
• Breathe; Don’t rush to speak; Share focus.
• We are walking backward, making each subsequent step based on the trajectory laid down behind us
• Don’t rush to 21, just build each move on top of the one before it
• Don’t emphasize failure; there are no “mistakes” on stage, only what happens
• The audience only knows you’ve “messed up” if you tell them you have

Big Booty concentration exercise

BIG BOOTY – One person is “Big Booty” everyone else is a number in order from the left of BB all the way around. You start with a chant “Big Booty, Big Booty, Big Booty, UH HUH” Then the passing is “Big Booty/Number 1” “Number 1/Number 5” “Number 5/Big Booty” etc. When someone messes up, they go to the end (highest number) and everyone’s number changes accordingly (number 1 gets out and becomes number 8, number 2 is now number 1, etc.) If someone gets BB out, they become BB and lead the game.

Circle Of Sequences concentration exercise

CIRCLE OF SEQUENCES – A player points at another and says any word. That player points at another player and says another word inspired by the first. This continues until every player says a word and points to another player, with the final player to contribute pointing back to the first player to contribute. This is Sequence One; repeat it continuously until the group is comfortable with it. Establish a Sequence Two the same way, and then a Sequence Three. When players are comfortable with each Sequence individually, tell them that they now will be keeping them all going at once. Start with Sequence One and then tap the player starting Sequence Two on the shoulder, then tap the player starting Sequence Three on the shoulder.
Lessons:
Focus outward – can’t be in your head freaking out; have to be ready and waiting for your turn
Be sure you’re heard – enunciate, make eye contact, and pointing helps
Each individual is 100% responsible for the success of the group – if a sequence is dropped, even if you didn’t drop it, pick it up
Variations:
Names – Make Sequence One “Your Name” and Sequence Three “Their Name” to add to potential confusion so as to force increased concentration

Story Stealing memory exercise

STORY STEALING – Everyone in a circle. One at a time, players enter the center and tell a true, personal, 30 Second Story. Once everyone has told a story, the teacher tells the class that players now have to enter the center and recreate someone else’s story. Every story should be revisited once by another player.
Lessons:
Don’t mock; mirror – this is not about making fun of each other, it’s about making each other look good by remembering their story
The more you remember, the more options you have – you might not get the chance to revisit the story you remember best so you need to work to remember everything
Remember specifically – remembering a few specific details will be more powerful than remembering everything generally
Remember reactions – our emotional reactions are improv gold; focus on those when setting other player’s stories to memory
See what’s not shown – recreating what our fellow players initially did subconsciously is great fun. How do they stand? How do they move? What do they sound like?

One Person Walking focus sharing exercise

ONE PERSON WALKING – Students spread out through the room. Without talking, one person has to be walking at any given time. Students have to see each other to know when to give and take focus.
Variations:
• Now two people are walking at a time. Now three. Build to everyone walking and then work back down to one person walking.
Lessons:
• Make eye contact
• Give and take focus
• Be willing to surrender focus to your scene partner