Acting’s not just for actors anymore.
So you think those lovely guys and gals up on the stage are having a good time? Want to join them, but lack the funds for total-body-replacement plastic surgery? Through a few simple, fun games you can be acting with the pros!
“Improv” is short for “Improvisational Theatre,” which basically means getting an extremely basic idea for some sort of scene, then making it up as you go along. This game/art form has existed among theatre folk for ages, but was recently brought to the mainstream by Comedy Central’s wildly successful Improv game show, “Whose Line Is It, Anyway?””
So how does it all work?
Before I explain specific games, the one definite rule of all forms of Improv should be made clear:
What this means is that if you enter a scene with a guy, and he announces “It sure is cold here on the moon!” you cannot say “The moon? We’re in a truck stop!”
So, on to the games.
FIVE PERSON ADD-IN
One person starts the round by doing… anything. Once it’s established what the first person’s doing, a second player enters and begins something else entirely different from the first person’s activity. The first player must join in with the second. The third then join and does something else.
The other two must join him. Same with the fourth and fifth. The fifth, however, must leave the scene he or she began “in character,” meaning there must be some legitimate excuse for his character’s exiting the scene. Then the fourth, third, and second. When only the first player still remains, the game’s over.
In many ways, the freeze is similar to Five Person Add-Ins. However, there are, as the name would suggest, a few interesting twists. The round begins with two players who establish a scene. Whenever any of the players in the audience feel like it, they yell “Freeze!” When the participants hear this, they both must freeze in whatever position they were in when the order was shouted.
The “Freezer” will then walk on stage and tap one of the players’ shoulders. The “Freezer” will then replace that player, assume the same position, and establish an entirely new scene based on that position. The game can continue as long as the players and the audience alike.
This one’s pretty different. Four chairs are arranged on the floor, two-by-two, as though they were seats in a car. To start the round, one player becomes the driver, one becomes the front passenger, and one sits behind that passenger, leaving the seat behind the driver blank. Whoever in the audience feels ready can stand on the side of the car with their thumb in the air.
The driver will then announce “Hitchhiker!” and the player will climb into the empty seat. The player climbing in will then take on some sort of a character with some sort of a reason for being in a car, and the rest of the cargoes must alter their characters to match. This continues until another audience member joins the way the first one did. The driver will again announce “Hitchhiker!”, though this time the driver exits the car and all the players scoot over one seat, making room for the new passenger. The cycle can be repeated for however long is desired.
There are many more excellent Improv games, but these are some of the simplest and most enjoyable. The best way to learn more? Invent your own!