Best shortform games for beginners?

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Best shortform games for beginners?

Postby thestorie » October 7th, 2010, 12:38 am

Hey everyone,
I’ve been hired to direct the improv segments for a New York theatre troupe’s variety showcase. They’re fun and generally confident onstage, but they’re all relative beginners to improv. The showcase is about a month from now. I’d really love your advice: which short form games are the best for new improvisers to perform- easy to learn, fun for the actors and the audience?
Thanks so much!
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Postby Roy Janik » October 7th, 2010, 12:54 am

For starters:

Word-At-A-Time Expert
fun exercise is being obvious and bold
word at a time takes the pressure off of being clever

New Choice
heavily directed, so the director can help the players make stronger choices

Alphabet Game
classic game that can really demonstrate players having fun and reveling in the challenge

Eye Contact w/ Music
makes for comedically dramatic scenes without too much work

Yearbook Photo
exercise in strong characters and relationships

Slideshow
works on jump-and-justify
nice and physical
gives the timid an easy role

Pan Left / Pan Right
showcases straight-up scenework, but gives the director enough control to shape the arc of the game
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » October 7th, 2010, 11:24 am

in addition to Roy's picks...

Party Quirks probably my favorite naive game. A lot of fun, encourages strong character building and if you're not JUST focused on the game can be a good introduction to scene work.

String of Pearls i've heard two games referred to by this name. i mean the one where you have two players come out and give the the first and last line of the story, with every other player subsequently filling in the missing lines. doesn't HAVE to make sense, so not a lot of pressure, but good for learning support and story structure. and my favorite kind of game, where the audience likes watching you fail but LOVES watching you pull it together in the end.

Forward/Reverse along the same reasoning as Roy for New Choice. good scene work since you're almost forced to reflect on your choices. strong, bold choices are encouraged, but even simple choices can be amplified and intensified with the right direction. i like Scene in Reverse for this as well (though more for the focus on structure than choice).
Sweetness Prevails.

-the Reverend
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Postby beardedlamb » October 7th, 2010, 11:53 am

if you've got a couple people who are pretty sharp, toward the end of your set, but the very last bit, do a scene in reverse and pimp it as the ultimate game. as long as they are comitted to it and they're pretty confident it should be great.
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Postby B. Tribe » October 8th, 2010, 2:12 pm

Shoot the Bastards a.k.a. Character Switch: Two person scene. When someone calls "SHOOT THE BASTARDS" or "SWITCH" or dings a bell, the two players switch characters, including the physical location and position of the other.

Late For Work: 4 person game. One person is late for work; he exits the room while the audience provides the reasons why he is late. Usually it's "What celebrity or historical figure was he with", "Where was he", and "What crime or activity was he doing". When he re-enters, he is grilled by "The Boss" while the other two characters silently pantomime clues. The boss can occasionally turn around and catch the 'workers' in the middle of some crazy position which they have to explain away. The boss can also drop hints if it's taking too long. It has a lot of moving parts for a beginner game but it pretty much plays itself.
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