- Whoosh – we stand in a circle, and a whoosh that can be sent either left or right is sent. As we go on we add to the commands that can be used to pass energy. A zap can be sent across the circle. If you want to hold energy and make the group follow you can boing (place a hand on your head like you are a bell and go boing or any variation of that) or groovilicious (you dance and all follow) or freak out (everyone screams and switches places in the circle). If you don’t want the energy you can whoa, but only when you are being given a whoosh.
- Poison Peepers – The group stands in a circle and closes their eyes. The facilitator counts to three and the participants are to try and lock eyes with a person across from them in the circle. When they lock eyes they have to do an over the top death scene. The above repeats until all have done a death scene.
- Bunny Bunny – Everyone circles up and the bunny (two quote fingers that face the person, then the person the bunny is traveling to) moves about the circle to the beat “ooh, ahh, ooh, ahhh” that the entire circle keeps. Wherever the bunny lands the people on either side support the bunny by dancing towards the bunny “tooki, tooki, tooki, tooki). The bunny can go slow or fast or regular pace on command of the group “awwww, snap” for faster or “snap,awwww” for slower.
- Whose Leading? – One person leaves the room while the rest of the group assigns one person for them to follow. Everyone must follow that person without letting the “guesser” know who they are following. The “guesser” observes the group and has three guesses to guess who is leading. If they guess correctly they win and the next “guesser” is sent out and the game begins again. If the “guesser” doesn’t get it the next “guesser” is sent out and the game begins again, either way you move on.
- Counting 1 to 10 – The group stands together and they, as a group, must count to 10. Each person adds their number, in no specific order and if two people speak at the same time they must go all the way back to 1 and begin again.
- Lenin and Stalin – The group stands in a circle and the first person/facilitator begins by saying “Lenin and Stalin” and doing a motion which each person does until everyone in the circle is doing it. The person to the left of the first person/facilitator changes the move and statement and it sweeps through the circle person by person until everyone has stopped doing the first move and is doing the second. It continues on until everyone has had a chance to change the group move.
- Emotional Bus – There is a bus driver who starts with a beginning emotion and he picks up passengers. Each passenger has a different emotion and when they enter everyone on the bus including the bus driver takes on their emotion.
- Crazy Eights – Everyone stands and for eight counts each person shakes out each limb. We keep decreasing the count by one and building speed.
- Slide Show – The host tells the audience that there will be a slide show composed of people describing a pivotal point in history or an event in an audience member’s life. They choose the period of history or personal event and two narrators come out, introduce themselves and begin to describe the event depicted in the slide that volunteers have created by posing and freezing. They will ask for a next slide and the people will change their positions to create a new slide.
- Zip, Zap, Zop – The group stands in a circle. One person gives another person across from them a “Zip”, the person that receives it gives another person across from them in the circle a “Zap” and then that person gives the next a “Zop” and the pattern is repeated again and again building speed until someone falters and is out.
- Zombie Tag – The group starts to mill around. A student’s name is called and that student then becomes a zombie. Zombies move slowly and when they touch another player the other player becomes a zombie also. Zombies keep getting created until there are no more regular humans and the game is over.
- I am a Tree – The group makes a circle. One student goes into the middle and gives an offer, “I am a tree.” Another student comes in and adds to that with something that would accompany that offer, “I am a bird in the tree.” One last student adds to the scene, “I am a bench by the tree” and the last participant starts with a different offer and it all begins again
- Orchestra – Everyone lines up and the conductor breaks up the group into sections. The conductor gives each section a phrase or emotion and that group has to say it when they are pointed to. They are also given, loud, soft, sad, happy, etc. as directions.
- Yes, You– The group stands or sits in a circle and one person points to another in the circle and says, “You”. The person that has been pointed to accepts the offer and says, “Yes,” and the person who says, “Yes” has to point to another person and say, “You.” The first person takes the second persons spot and the second can’t move until they receive a, “Yes” from the person they said, “You” to and the pattern continues.
- First Letter, Last Letter – You get a topic to speak on and the first person in the conversation says a sentence which the second person must listen to carefully because they have to use the last letter of the last word in their partner’s sentence to begin the first word of their sentence and it goes back and forward using the last letter of the proceeding sentence to start the first word of the present sentence.
- Samurai – All participants stand in a circle. One person is a Samurai and holds up their sword creating a triangle with their hands above their head and shouts “huh”. The Samurais on either side of the one with the sword above their head shouts “huh” as well and mime cutting Samurai A in half on each side. Samurai A sends the energy to another Samurai in the circle while shouting “huh” and Samurai B receives it by saying “huh” and assuming the sword over head position and the pattern continues.
- Walk/Stop – Tell the group to mill about and listen to the instructions given. “When I say walk, walk and when I say stop, stop.” Then swap them, “When I say walk, stop and when I say stop, walk.” Then introduce hop and clap and swap their meanings. Other directions can be given and swapped.
- Walk with Me – You circle up and the facilitator does a funny walk and instructs the person to their left to “Walk with me.” They do the walk with the facilitator all the way around the circle until they get back to their original spot and the person that accompanied the facilitator then asks the person to their left to do a funny walk with them around the circle until they get to their originating spot and it continues until everyone has gone.
- Killer/Defender – Have everyone circle up. Instruct everyone to choose a person who is their killer and someone who is their defender without letting the person. Have them walk about the space letting them know that they have to stay as close as possible to their defender and as far as possible from their killer at all times. Circle back up after they have done it for a few minutes and see if people could guess who they were to each other.
SCENE/SCENE BUILDING GAMES
- Three line drill – Form two lines. Line A person starts with an action and line B person comes in and begins with a verbal offer establishing location. Line B person responds with a line that gives the relationship and line A person raises the stakes and/or introduces a conflict, then the next couple goes.
- Questions Only – In a setting of the audiences choosing two players have to keep the scene going only using questions.
- Yes and Story – The players stand in a line and begin to tell a story establishing two characters at the top. Using the words “yes and” to connect the sentences they add on the place, relationship between characters, conflict and resolution until they come to an end.
- Three Headed Expert – Three folks come together to become one expert that knows everything and can answer any question the audience asks. The audience helps the host pick a subject for the expert to answer questions on. Questions are taken by the host and the expert has to answer one word at a time.
- Columns/Pillars – Two people begin a scene with specified “ask fors” and two people on stage, one stage left and one stage right, will fill in the blank when one of the two people in the scene point at them.
- Switch – Two people begin a scene with specified “ask fors” and the moderator throughout the scene calls switch. When switch is called the person switch is called on must change what they are saying or doing and continue on with the scene with the new reality that the switch or switches have caused.
- What Next? – A scene begins with the ask fors where and relationship. The two participants start the scene and the host yells freeze from time to time and asks the audience for suggestions that the two scene players have to use in the scene immediately.
- “I can’t” – The group gets into two lines. One person on line A gives the person on line B a two word phrase. The person on line B gives it back with a different delivery then they do it all over again switching who goes first.
- One Word Story – Line up several players and get a topic or title to the story you will tell. Then the participants must tell the story only adding one word at a time.
- Conducted Story – Line up several players and get a topic or title to the story you will tell. When the facilitator points at the person in the line they must speak and when they are no longer being pointed at they don’t speak.
- World’s Worst – There is a line up of players. The host gets occupations, events or holidays from the audience and each person jumps up in any order to show their interpretation of the world’s worst of the suggestion.
- Back in My Day – Create a line facing the audience. Ask the audience for an object they use everyday. Participants jump up acting like an old person explaining why back in their day they did not have that object.
- 185 – The group lines up and the “host” gets an “ask for” from the audience like an animal, occupation or famous person. The participants then jump up and deliver a joke as followed, “185 __________ walk into a bar. The bartender says we don’t serve ___________s here and the _____________s say punchline.” The blanks are filled in with whatever the “ask for” was. Example: Ask for: Cats. Joke: 185 cats walk into a bar. The bartender says we don’t serve cats here and the cats say, “that is a far from a purrrfect response.” It is a pun game. The punnier the better.
Alphabet Bodies – Individually, pairs, or small groups leading to working together in a large group. The Teaching Artist gives the participants one letter of the alphabet, either by writing it on the board or otherwise showing it to the group. The students try to recreate the given letter with their bodies. They are free to represent the letter any way they want to, as long as it is using their bodies (hands, arms, lying down, moving chairs and sitting, etc.) This can be expanded by using the whole group to spell words that relate to the given topic of the day. This activity helps to warm up the body and can also aid in creating an ensemble, developing language skills, and as an assessment of leaders, followers and spatial relations skills.
Chain of Command – Groups of four, in the following roles: Boss, Manager, Supervisor, and Clerk. The “boss” needs a few tasks taken care of. He/she verbally tells the “manager” (without anyone else hearing) who in turn writes down what needs to be done for the “supervisor” who communicates this (any method, but cannot show the previous note) to the “clerk” who must carry out the activity without asking for clarification. The activities should be actual but simple at first, such as “Take the trash can and put it outside the door,” and become more complex as the activity progresses, “Put four chairs on the right side of the room, one on top of the desk and turn off the lights.” Once the orders have been given to the next in command they should not be repeated. This can be played in teams or one group at a time for all to see what happens. It is a more sophisticated version of “Telephone” and is a great exercise in language use, paying attention, playing the role of authority, being clear.
Introducing… – In pairs, and with a given time limit, the participants take turns finding out at least three things about their partner. They should be paired with others whom they do not know well. They are welcome to find out more than three things, but three is the goal. When everyone in the group has had ample time to interview their partner each person introduces his or her partner to the rest of the group incorporating what was learned during the interview process. This can be done as a talk show, news reporter, pageant or any other creative and imaginative way of introducing someone, if desired. This is a good exercise for groups that are new to each other. This activity also fosters basic socialization skills.
Lighthouse to Captain (aka Pilot to Tower, Mine Field) – The entire group participates, though there are three primary players: a “captain”, a “lighthouse”, and a “ship”. The captain has been separated from his/her ship. The objective is to have the lighthouse guide the ship safely back to the captain. The captain stands on a chair or box to get a good view of the “ocean” between him/her and the ship (if standing on something isn’t possible, or unsafe, it isn’t necessary). The ship stands directly in front of the lighthouse, who cannot move, facing him/her. The captain waits on the opposite side of the room. The remaining participants place themselves as sharks, rocks, shipwrecks, seaweed, monsters, etc. “resting” in the ocean between the captain and the vessel. The lighthouse must give precise directions to the ship of how to reach the captain without hitting anything in the ocean lest the ship get a hole and sink. The ship is maneuvered through the ocean backwards. When needed, the captain, from where he/she is, should help the lighthouse with directions. This is a good exercise in communication, giving and receiving precise instructions, as well as trust. The characters as described can be switched (it could be the captain giving directions with the lighthouse on the other side)and the sea concept does not have to be used at all as long as the set-up is clear. Other settings, or no setting, can be used instead. The arrangement of people and things in the room should change each time.
Tangle (Human Knot) – in one large or two groups. Starting in a circle each person clasps right hands with another persons’ right hand across the circle and clasps left hands with a different person. By this time the group should be sufficiently tangled up and must find a way to come back into a circle without letting go of each other, thus restricting communication. This is a fun game of problem solving and working together as a group. The TA or another adult should not participate in this to make sure that no one is hurt. Participants who cannot or will not participate directly can be used to oversee and offer suggestions to the group.
Variation – The entire group, standing in a circle holding hands. With everyone connected, one person weaves across and in and out of the circle, thus tangling everyone up. They must try to get back to the original circle, again without letting go. Communication is limited to facial expression only.
Two Truths and a Lie – have everyone go around the circle, introduce themselves and offer 3 things about themselves – 2 things that are true and 1 that is a lie. The non-truth should not be something obvious. The others have to try to figure out which are true and which is not. This is an interesting exercise where everyone can learn about how they are viewed by others, by what people believe, and a basic getting-to-know each other activity.
Wink Attacker – As the participants have their eyes closed the Teaching Artist taps someone on the shoulder who will become the “attacker.” After all open their eyes, one person is designated to stand in the center of the room and become the “detective.” The rest of the participants, including the attacker, mill around the room. The attacker attacks people with a single wink of the eye; the victims then fall down “dead” – preferably as dramatically as possible. This can be done across the room or next to the person but the attacker does not want to be found out by the detective. If others figure out who the attacker is before being attacked themselves they should say nothing and continue moving about the room. The detective gets two tries to find out who the attacker is. If successful, he becomes part of the group and a different detective and attacker are chosen. If unsuccessful he/she is told who the attacker was then the game starts again with a different attacker.
Amelia Fowler, a native of Brooklyn, New York, can be seen in the upcoming motion pictures “Top Five”, starring Chris Rock and “Learning to Drive” starring, Sir Ben Kingsley as well as “Monica Z”, directed by Per Fly as Ella Fitzgerald and “Orange is the New Black”, directed by Jodie Foster. Amelia has been seen in commercial spots for Cablevision, the History Channel, IFC, as well as comedy venues throughout the U.S. with her fellow cast mates of the improv troupes “Comedy Sportz – New York City” and “Eight is Never Enough.” Amelia has also had the good fortune to perform in the GLAAD award winning “She Like Girls” at the Ohio Theater as Regina and her one woman show “Flozetta” performed at HERE as part of the “Downtown Urban Theater Festival” and the movie . Amelia currently serves as Client Relations Manager for EIGHT IS NEVER ENOUGH so if you are booking a private event or outreach program, expect a friendly call. Visit her website at www.AmeliaFowler.com