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Improvisation games for the young actor

Improv games are a wonderful way to break the ice with your new cast, review and develop skills, and help your actors find themselves in the characters they are playing and the script you are working on with them. Through improvisational exercises and games, actors learn to respond quickly to changes in their environment and to create in the moment a new way of looking at, responding to, or expressing feelings about a situation that has also been spontaneously created.

As a director of young performers, I have developed a repertoire that I would like to share here, of games that I think work well with children and adolescents. These are by no means original products, in fact most of them have been around for a long time, but I include them here not as my own inventions, but as games that I have found to be particularly useful and popular with my young actors. .

Park bench – This is usually the first game I teach. It is simple and all ages play it happily. Believe it or not, I have met a 5-8 year old team that continues this game for an hour or more! I start by asking for a volunteer to be the first innocent babysitter. I tell the bench that he is sitting minding his own business when a new person comes and sits next to him, and here I encourage the next child to come and join the first. The second person’s job is to say or do something to make the first person go away. The work of the first person, and this is an important point to highlight, is let the statement or action of the second person to make them want to leave. When the first person gets up and leaves, the second person moves into place and becomes the next innocent bank assistant and greets the next child in line who will now make him leave. The original innocent bench babysitter goes to the end of the line from the rest of the future park bench antagonists to wait his own turn.

Freeze – Another old resource, Freeze has been around forever and is enjoyed by actors of any age. It begins with two volunteers taking the stage. The director asks the audience to give the two volunteers a setting to start a scene: a place, an activity, and who the two actors are portraying. Leaving no time for the two actors to think hard, the director instructs the volunteers to start the scene. The scene progresses for a few minutes and then when the actors are in an interesting physical formation, the director yells “Freeze!” and the two actors must freeze their bodies in that instant.

A new volunteer is chosen and that person takes the stage and taps on the shoulder of any actor in a position that inspires them. The beaten actor leaves the stage. The new actor assumes his position and uses that pose as a stimulus to start a completely new scene.

Martha’s game – And no, no one knows why it’s called “The Martha Game”.

An actor is chosen to be Martha. Martha has the pleasure of choosing where she is, what she is doing and what she is and announces it to the group and freezes in a pose of action. The rest of the students, one by one, shout what they want to be in the scene (any character or environmental aspect of Martha’s scenario is fair game, including inanimate objects) and are added, frozen, to the picture. When all the actors have chosen their incorporation to the stage of Martha, the director will clap three times and the image will come to life, moving and speaking, even inanimate objects must speak as if what they are portraying could speak. This results in a wildly chaotic and wonderful crazy scene. This game is not for the faint of heart.

Tell me again? – This game originates with me and begins with a set of prewritten sentences on strips of paper that could be used to start a scene. Some examples:

I do not believe it. I’m tired. Do not tell me that. what do you mean? Wow. What do you know? It’s great to see you.

Two students choose a piece of paper with a sentence on it, enter the play space, and start a scene with their sentences. The problem here is that the only things students can say is the phrase they are holding. They should use their bodies, faces, actions, and inflection to vary the scene and represent different intentions. The fun really begins when the director adds more actors, each with their own one-sentence script to play with. The game is great for teaching about the many ways a line can be pronounced, as well as a lovely way to show that it’s not so much what we say as how we say it.

The Game Show Game – An original variation on the old standard The Dating Game. Three children are chosen to create characters, whose identities they do not reveal. Characters can be anything from Sponge Bob Square Pants to a rabbit and macaroni and cheese. The three characters sit in a row of three chairs, with enough space between them to allow them to physically move while they portray themselves. A contestant is chosen who then sits at the far right of the stage in the row of characters and the announcer, the director, begins the game.

Announce: Welcome ladies and gentlemen to our program The Game Show Game, where our contestant will have five rounds of questions to determine who these three characters could be. Here’s our contestant today: Tom. Character number one, say hi to Tom!

The characters walk the line, each saying a distinctive “hello” to the contestant. When this is accomplished, the announcer says, “Tom, ask your first question.”

The characters answer a series of five questions posed by the contestant that gathers information from the answers that hopefully leads to the answer of who the characters really are. This game works well since it involves many children at once and even the children who play the audience are participants as if the contestant could not guess the identity of a character, the announcer says: “We are addressing the audience. Members of the audience … do you have any assumptions for this character? “At the end of the round, when the entire character has been revealed, the contestant returns to the audience, all characters move the stage one chair to the right, character number one becomes the contestant and a new number three character is chosen from the audience, and the announcer launches into his intro once more …

These games are just a sample of what principals can play with their students. Some useful improv game links are:

Improv games provide the director with a wide variety of ways to extend the rehearsal and acting skills of her novice actors into uncharted territory, while also providing opportunities to develop social skills and develop camaraderie among students. The director will enjoy watching the student actors grow as they play, laugh with their co-stars, and become more spontaneous and creative performers.

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