Games from across the pond

May 18, 2007 05:16 am by marc in Improv, London

I’ve tried some new games this week that I really enjoyed. Let me share them with you.

This game is best played with 5 people (perhaps 7) either seated in a horseshoe shape or standing in a circle. The game begins with everyone laughing as if someone has told a very funny joke. Continue the laughter until you really mean it and you’re laughing because the other people look so funny laughing. Once the laughter subsides a bit, the players should begin creating alliances between themselves and other players. One establishes these alliances by creating positive relationships between one’s self and the other players. For example, your first line could be, “that joke reminds me of the joke that Jane told on our first date.” The point of the exercise is to create some strong relationships between yourself and the majority of the other players. Avoid going out of your way to include people if they are trying to be in your alliance. Let them do the work if you’re in a comfortable position. Avoid using negativity to exclude others. Expect one or two people to have weaker relationships with the majority. This can create interesting differences in the characters, and the big loser could have a lot of possibilities if you wanted to use the characters for scenes later. My favourite moment from my own experience from this game was where a group of three of us were talking about a vacation we had taken together. A player not in our alliance asked us, “didn’t it rain during your whole trip.” Magically, we all looked at eachother excitedly and said,”yes!”. And laughed about how great the puddle-jumping was. The game’s creator Alan Marriot suggests that it could be used to start a longform.

1/2 Step Reaction
This is a straight scene with one exception. Just after your scene partner has given their line, take a 1/2 step either towards or away from them and feel how this movement changes you. Only give your next line after you have made this movement. The distance between people shows a lot about how comfortable they are with one another. The closer their bodies are, the more comfortable they are with eachother. This activity can be used to establish subtext. Ex. player A: “Are you ok?” player B takes 1/2 step back but smiles:”Of course I am. I’m fine.” This exercise can also help you to go through changes in a scene and not just the experience everything with one perspective and emotion. Sometimes we get stuck in one mode and this exercise can help you to break that habit. Emotional reaction to the events happening around you on stage is, of course, really important to theatre.

Mish-mash of Team Work Games
Remy Bertrand introduced me to an interesting set of exercises. They involved establishing something on stage without prior verbal communication. In the first exercise, two players demonstrated an occupation without deciding before hand what that occupation would be. This was very interesting because I’m used to doing this kind of stuff on my own, but trying to watch the other person and experience this simultaneous discovery was pretty tricky. We also tried having three people simultaneously discover/create a location. The activity that took the most finesse was the one in which three people had to establish the platform of a scene as well as make a secret decision of what status position they would play (#1,#2 or #3) just prior to it beginning. Some of the more interesting scenes involved characters that were struggling to occupy the same rung on the status ladder. Two people trying to be #2 and pandering to the one #1 can make for an interesting scene.

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