If you already improvise, I imagine you’re taking a bit of a break for the holidays, but you can always introduce games to non-improviser friends and family. Here are my three favourites!
I’ve played this with my niece since she was five, so I know it’s pretty suitable for everyone.
Stand (or sit) facing a partner. Both clap at the same time. Now choose one of three directions to throw your arms: left, right or up. You are not trying to copy your partner, just choose a direction. Now clap again (at the same time as your partner).
[clap] [direction] [clap] [direction] etc.
Once you’ve got that going, look out for the times when you both happen to throw your arms out in the same direction (like a mirror). When you do, clap like you normally would, then celebrate with a high-ten and go back to a clap.
[clap] [direction] [clap] [same direction] [clap] [high-ten!] [clap] [direction] etc.
If you want to play this game with a group, start in pairs, then if one of you ‘messes up’ by forgetting to high-ten or something, that person becomes a cheerleader for the ‘winner’ and they play another duo ‘winner’ until one person becomes victorious. Personally I like it as a collaborative game, where you just laugh and restart when it goes wrong, but either is fun.
This is a great game for the people in your family or friendship group that are thinky. It feels competitive, but is actually collaborative.
Think of a word. When you have one in mind, say “One”. Your partner thinks of any word and when they have one they say “Two”. Now you count together “One, two, three [word]” so your words are spoken on top of each other. Let’s imagine the words are Tree and Foil. Now you both need to think of a word that might make sense of both Tree and Foil.
Both: One, Two, Three [tree/foil]
Both: One, Two, Three [decorations]
When you land on the same word, sing a victory song, high-ten one another or celebrate in any way you want! It may take a while, or it may happen quickly. You only have to think about the two words that were just said, not the ones before that.
Playing in a group is just the same, where two people elect to play by shouting “One” or “Two” but after those words are spoken, anyone can play the next word.
This is a lovely game that works in performance too, so you can entertain people who don’t want to play, or take turns.
Stand or sit together in a trio. Get a made up word from your audience, or suggest one yourselves if there is no one watching. Let's say the word is 'Koodle'.
Spell: From left to right in your line, spell out the made up word one letter at a time. “K.O.O.D.L.E”
Define: Again, going down the line a few times, define the word using one word at a time. “Koodle. Means. To. Hug. A. Friend. Who. Hates. Physical. Contact.”
Use in a sentence: One word at a time, go down the line saying a sentence containing the made-up word. “It’s. Christmas. So. I’m. Going. To. Koodle. You.”
Remember, it’s not about getting it right (there is no right), but enjoying your collaborative creativity and silliness.
Have a lovely Winterval!
Katy's book The Improviser's Way will be published in 2018 by Nick Hern Books.
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Katy Schutte is a London-based improviser who teaches improv classes in London, Europe and the States. Katy performs with Project2, The Maydays and Destination. See her live show dates for upcoming shows.
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