Basic Warm Ups

Basic Physical Warm Up

  1. Reach up and wiggle your fingers, reach down touch your toes (repeat 2 or 3 times)
  2. Roll shoulders back and forward
  3. Put your hands on your hips.  Stick your chest out like you are Superman.  Suck it in like you are trying on pants at the mall.  Superman, Pants, (Repeat several times)
  4. Hula Hoop hips in both directions
  5. Stand on one foot, stick the foot that is up out front and make little circles with your toes.  Hop on that foot.  Switch feet.

Basic Vocal Warm Up

  1. Do Sirens.  Start high pitch and go as low as you can.  Use your finger and start high and as you go down take your finger to the floor.
  2. Start with your finger low and your voice low and go up.
  3. Massage your face.  Make sure to get your cheeks, chin, jaw, eyes and forehead.
  4. Squish your face like you just ate a sour lemon and say “Ewwww”
  5. Open your mouth wide like you are eating a big watermelon and say “Awwww”
  6. Repeat 4 and 5 several times.
  7. Do some tongue twisters.  For example:
    • Rubber baby buggy bumpers.
    • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers / If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers / How many pickled peppers did Peter Piper pick?
    • What a to-do to die today at a minute or two to two,
      a thing distinctly hard to say but harder still to do.
      for they’ll beat a tattoo at a quarter to two:
      a rat-ta tat-tat ta tat-tat ta to-to.
      and the dragon will come when he hears the drum
      at a minute or two to two today, at a minute or two to two

I’d Buy That!

I’d Buy That!

In this game groups of participants will work together to advertise for an imaginary product.  To begin, break the participants up into groups of 3 to 5.  One group will make the advertisement at a time, the other participants can be observers.  Get a suggestion from the observers or have an idea prepared.  For example a peace maker, a never empty water well, etc.

Tell them they are the creative team and need to inform the public about all that it can do.  Encourage participants to build on the last thing that was said by using the phrase “Yes and…”  For example:

Sidecoach: You are the creative team of advertisers for the peace maker.  Tell us all about what it can do!

Person 1: Well our peace maker allows people to see similarities between themselves and others.

Person 2: Yes and it has a built in mediator when there is a disagreement.

Person 3: It can find land for everyone to live on.

Sidecoach: Say “Yes and…”

Person 4: Yes and it can find land for everyone to live one.

In reverence, talk about what they were selling and how it would help.  If this thing existed would it help or hurt?  Would it use resources well?  What was it like adding to someone else’s ideas?  Did it make the product better?

Adapted from:

McKnight, Katherine S., and Mary Scruggs. The Second City Guide to Improv in the Classroom: Using Improvisation to Teach Skills and Boost Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008. Print.

 

Great for the themes of: Economy, Vocation, Common Ground, Creativity, Imagination, and Grace.

Getting and Giving

Getting and Giving

To begin this exercise make sure the participants have a specific space that they can walk freely in.  That is define the boundaries of their space.  If there are lots of participants, divide the group into smaller groups of about 8-10.

Have participants walk the space freely.  Call out “Freeze” and “Unfreeze” to get participants used to getting still.  After several times, call out “Freeze” and explain that you will unfreeze one participant at a time to walk the space.  Unfreeze one person and let them walk around for a few moments before re-freezing them and unfreezing another participant.  Make sure everyone has the chance to walk the space alone with others frozen.

When the final person has been re-frozen, explain that they, not you, will give the signal to move.  They will do this without speaking or touching.  Only one person may move at a time.  Let them do this until everyone has moved once.

In reverence, talk about what it was like giving and taking movement.  How did it feel to give someone movement and know they were taking yours?  Was it hard to give away?  Was it worth it?

Adapted from:

McKnight, Katherine S., and Mary Scruggs. The Second City Guide to Improv in the Classroom: Using Improvisation to Teach Skills and Boost Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008. Print.

 

Great for the themes of: Generosity, Liberation, Freedom, and Hospitality.

Tell the Truth!

Tell the Truth!

This is an improvisation based exercise.  It is good for beginners, and only needs to last a few minutes.  This exercise will be done in pairs.  When a pair is doing the exercise the other participants will be observers.  To begin the exercise get from the observers or have prepared characters, a place, and an activity.

Let participants begin the scene.  At moments you feel appropriate, shout out “Tell the truth!”  The person that just said a line must change to something new without hesitation.  Do this several times for both participants.

In reverence, talk about what the truth was or is.  What was more truthful, what you said first or your other options?  Was it hard to remember what “truth” you told?

Adapted from:

McKnight, Katherine S., and Mary Scruggs. The Second City Guide to Improv in the Classroom: Using Improvisation to Teach Skills and Boost Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008. Print.

 

Great for the themes of: Truth, evil, insight, change, and Memory and Hope.

Steered Story

Steered Story

To begin this exercise divide the participants into groups of 5 to 8.  One group will go at a time with the others being observers.  Members of the group should stand in a semi-circle facing the sidecoach and observers.  Make sure it isn’t a line, but a semi-circle.  This allows the participants to see and listen to one another better.

The side coach will ask for or provide a topic for the story.  Once the topic is chosen, the sidecoach will sit on the floor in front of the semi-circle.  The sidecoach will point to one person who will start the story.  When that person has told a portion of the story, the sidecoach will signal that person to stop while pointing to another person in the line.  That person will pick up the story without hesitating, even if it was in the middle of a sentence or word.  Go through until each person has gone about twice.

In reverence, talk about what it was like making the story.  Was it a good story?  Did it have a beginning, middle and end?  How did the story change or stay the same between people?

Adapted from:

McKnight, Katherine S., and Mary Scruggs. The Second City Guide to Improv in the Classroom: Using Improvisation to Teach Skills and Boost Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008. Print.

 

Great for the themes of: Myth, the sources, Creativity, Imagination, and scripture.

It’s In the Cards

 It’s In the Cards

To begin this exercise divide the participants into groups of about 8 to 15 people.  Give each participant a random playing card.  Tell the participants to think of a type of person or character that would match the status of card’s place in the deck.  For example, if a person has a King they might think of a powerful politician or a rich celebrity.  If the person has a two, they might think of someone in poverty living on the street or someone shy and awkward.  Explain that the participants will mingle in character for a few minutes.  Remind them that they are not to tell who they are, but rather show it. Tell them to think about how the status of the character makes them move, walk, talk, even breath.

After a several minutes of mingling ask the participants to line up from lowest in the deck to highest.

In reverence, talk about what it was like exploring status.  Were they able to arrange themselves correctly at the end? What was it like to be low in status?  High in status?  How did people of differing status interact?

Adapted from:

McKnight, Katherine S., and Mary Scruggs. The Second City Guide to Improv in the Classroom: Using Improvisation to Teach Skills and Boost Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008. Print.

 

Great for the themes of: Wisdom, Evil, Salvation, truth, Brokenness, Economy, and insight.

Reverend Know it All

Reverend Know it All

To begin this improvisation based exercise break the participants into groups of three.  People that are not in a group of three that is the reverend will be the congregation watching and asking questions.  The three people will take questions, moderated by the sidecoach, on a topic.  After the question is asked, each person will give one word at a time to answer the question.  For example:

Sidecoach: Ok the reverend is an expert in wisdom.  Who has a question about wisdom?

Congregation Member: How do you get wisdom reverend?

Person 1: You

Person 2: get

Person 3: wisdom

Person 1: by

Person 2: doing

Person 3: a

Person 1: bunch

Person 2: of  

Person 3: stuff.

Each group should answer a few questions, depending on the size of the group.

In reverence, talk about how they answered together.  Was it hard or easy knowing what to say next?  Was your answer true?  Was your answer what you thought it was going to be?

Adapted from:

McKnight, Katherine S., and Mary Scruggs. The Second City Guide to Improv in the Classroom: Using Improvisation to Teach Skills and Boost Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008. Print.

 

Great for the themes of: Wisdom, the sources, truth, and insight.

Outward Sight

Outward Sight

This is a simple exercise to hone the participant’s use of their sight.  To begin the exercise have participants sit in a comfortable position, either on a chair or on the floor.  If you would like, you can bring various objects and place them around the room, or just have the participants focus on objects already in the room.  Sidecoach the participant to extend their sight in different directions without moving their head, just their eyes.  For example:

Sidecoach:      Send your sight out into the world around you.  Your sight is a part of you.

                        Send your sight out to the middle of the room.

                        Allow an object to come into focus.  Let the object be seen and let it see you.

                        Keep changing objects around the room.

                        Move your eyes as far right as you can, not your head just your eyes.

                        Move them as far left as you can. As far up.  As far down.

                        Try to see behind you.  Don’t move your body or head, but see behind you.

In reverence, talk about what you saw.  What was it like truly seeing things around the room?  Do you see well or wear glasses/contacts?  How could you do this if you were or are blind?  How is actual vision the same or different than the vision that is our theme?

Adapted from:

Spolin, Viola. Theater Games for the Classroom: A Teacher’s Handbook. Evanston, IL: Northwestern UP, 1986. Print.

 

Great for the themes of: Vision, insight, divinity, simplicity.

The Everything Ball

The Everything Ball

This is a basic imagination, creativity and mime game. Before the exercise prepare by getting used to miming a ball that can be changed.  As the sidecoach you should be well acquainted with some of the mime before you teach it to others.  Begin by getting the participants into a circle or surround the space.  Tell them that you are going to give them an amazing gift.  An Everything Ball.  Take the everything ball out of your pocket or out of an empty bag.  Explain that this is your everything ball and that it is amazing because it can be anything and everything.  Take a moment to rip off a small piece of your ball and give it to each of the participants.  Asking them to hold out their hand to receive it.

Try not to use the words imagine or pretend.  It should be as if the ball was a thing that really existed and it is not a question.  Here are some things you can do with your ball to start:

Sidecoach:      Let’s make our ball the size of a tennis ball.  You will need to stretch it from the piece I gave you.

                        Let’s throw our ball up in the air and catch it.

                        Let’s bounce our ball on the ground.

                        Let’s make our ball the size of a beach ball.  Bounce it up in the air on your hand.

                        Now our ball is as heavy as a bowling ball.  Wow that is heavy.  Now it feels like a small boulder.  Remember to lift with your legs.

Once you have gone through some basics of the ball you can begin to make it into anything that fits your purpose.  For example:

Sidecoach:      Let’s make our ball into a hammer to build a new home for someone that needs it.  Use your hammer.

                        Let’s make our ball into sandbags to stop a flood.  Stack your sandbags.

                        Let’s make our ball into a machine that will end hunger.

                        Let’s make our ball into something that make bad actions good ones.

And so on for as many as you would like.  Make sure at the end of the exercise participants put their Everything Ball into their own pocket or bag to take with them.

In reverence, talk about the power of the Everything Ball.  What other problems could it fix?  Do you have a visible tool that you could use?

Adapted from:

Spolin, Viola. Theater Games for the Classroom: A Teacher’s Handbook. Evanston, IL: Northwestern UP, 1986. Print.

 

Great for the themes of: Imagination, Creativity, Justice, Ultimacy, Salvation, Preparation, Divinity, and Evil.

Three’s a Crowd

Three’s a Crowd

To begin this exercise split the group up into smaller groups of three.  You may want to do each group of three one at a time with the other members of the group as watchers.  You can do all the groups at once, but make sure that they are not close together.  This exercise is meant to be somewhat confusing and many people talking at once could make it even more so.  Put the three participants in a line like so:

threes company

Give the people on the ends two different topics to discuss with the person in the center.  Explain that the person in the center has the job of listening and conversing with both people at once.  Remind the people on the ends that they should avoid questions and try not to talk about the same thing as the other person on the end.  They should have the conversation with the person in the center as if the other person on the end did not exist.

Make sure that each person in the trio is able to be in the center.

In reverence, talk about what it was like listening to and participating in both conversations.  Did you miss important information?  Do you know what both people said?  Was it too complicated to keep up?  How was it different than a simple conversation with one person?

Adapted from:

Spolin, Viola. Theater Games for the Classroom: A Teacher’s Handbook. Evanston, IL: Northwestern UP, 1986. Print.

 

Great for the themes of: Simplicity, wisdom, and myth.  This could work with any theme if you provide it as the topic of conversation.