Game: Freeze Tag

Number of players: 3 or more

Tags: Exercise, large group, warm up, cool down, all levels

When: This is a large group warm-up exercise and a large group cool down exercise.

Overview: A series of short, two person scenes is performed, and the transition between scenes occurs when a player outside of the current scene calls “freeze” and then replaces one of the performers. Poses are held through the freeze, and the new player assumes the pose of the replaced player. Each scene is independent of the previous scene, the only influence being the physical pose at the time of the freeze.

Introduction: “This will be a series of short, two person scenes. At any time, two people will be playing their scene in the middle and someone on the outer circle will yell ‘freeze.’ At that point the performers freeze in their current positions. The freezer steps up to one of the previous performers and taps him or her on the shoulder. The tapped out person will go back out to the circle, the person entering assumes the pose, and then that new player also starts a new scene. The new scene must justify the poses of both players. Once the who, what, and where are portrayed, then someone else in the circle can yell ‘freeze’ to start a new scene. These are meant to be short scenes, so get the who, what, and where out quickly.”

“Also, do not wait to freeze a scene only when you have a new scene in mind. The idea is to freeze on an interesting pose and wait until you get into that pose before you come up with a scene. Let the physical pose inform the scene.”

Details: The entire class forms a circle, and the introduction is given. During the introduction, the director will get two players into the middle of the circle. After the introduction, these two will immediately start a short scene. They will be interrupted by someone else in the group who shouts “freeze”. The two players instantly stop the scene, freezing in their current positions. The player who yelled “freeze” steps up to either of the two players, taps that player out, and assumes the player’s pose. The tapped out player goes back out to the circle. The new player will start a new scene with new characters and will justify the position of the characters. After a short time, another player in the outer circle will yell “freeze” and the cycle will repeat.

Each scene is meant to be short, just getting out the who, what, and where. If the scenes are going too long, I will tell everyone to get to more freezes. If I see some reluctant players, I’ll freeze the current scene and call out the reluctant player to step in and start a new scene as if they were the one who yelled “freeze.”

Occasionally, two people will yell “freeze” at the same time. We’ve taken to calling this a double freeze, and both of the freezers step forward and take over the two existing poses, tapping out both of the previous performers. Either of the new players can start the new scene.

Variation 1: Break the entire class up into groups of three. These groups are spread around the classroom. Now, freeze tag will always have 1 person not doing the scene who is obviously the next freezer. This forces everyone to participate and a player can only sit out one scene before they have to go back in.

Variation 2: The entire class lines up with their backs against a wall except for the first two in line who turn to face the wall. Two players are in the open area where most of the other players are facing, and they start off performing a short scene. The third person in line (after the two facing the wall) will yell “freeze” when the performers are in an interesting pose. At that point, the first person in line will turn out and quickly move towards the frozen performers. That player immediately taps one of the two performers out, assumes that players pose and starts a new scene. The tapped out player runs to the end of the line. Everyone in line takes a step towards the front of the line, the person who yelled “freeze” now turns towards the wall, and the new third person in line watches for a freeze. Repeat until everyone has had a chance to start a new scene.

This variation is sometimes called “Double Blind Freeze Tag” because the player who has to start a new scene hasn’t seen the previous two scenes and has no preconceived notion of what they are stepping into.

Game: One Word Story

Number of players: 2 or more (although more than 20 can be unwieldy)

Tags: Exercise, Large Group, All Levels, Narrative

When: This is a large group warm-up exercise

Overview: A group of players will tell a story while standing in a circle. But, each person will add only one word at a time as the focus goes around the circle to build sentences and the story.

Introduction: “We’re going to tell a story, but each of us can only add one word at a time as we go around the circle building up sentences. Because you only get to add one word to the story each rotation, individually you’re not going to have a big impact on the plot. Don’t get hung up on the perfect word; instead just say a word that keeps the sentence going. If you need a name, use the ones already mentioned. Same with objects, actions, or emotions. The more you can reincorporate ideas in the story, the tighter it will become. You’ll notice us go off the rails when someone introduces a new concept into an established story. Now, who has a title for this story?”

Details: The class is broken up into one or more groups so that each group has less that 20 players. A group stands in a circle, not quite shoulder to shoulder. The introduction is given, and then someone in the group comes up with a title for the story. That persons starts by giving the first word. A direction is established, and then sentences are built up. Punctuation is usually implied, but if someone says the punctuation out loud, it is NOT their word. That person still needs to add a word to the story.

The story is ended by the director at an appropriate time, typically some sort of resolution, but sometimes when the story has completely gone off the rails. However, our group has found a common way to end a scene by starting a sentence with the sequence “The moral of the story is ..” and then creating a moral. With more experienced players, just starting a sentence with the word “The” is enough to let everyone know that we’ll end with a moral. The director still decides when the moral is complete, although this is a more obvious call.



January 28 Class CANCELLED


Sorry everyone, but I’m going to have to cancel this week’s class (January 28). Unfortunately, our usual facility is being used for the annual homeless count, and our usual alternative locations already have other scheduled activities. The Unitarians were most apologetic, but they were constrained by other obligations.

Other alternative locations didn’t pan out, which has been my past experience. Facilities like we need are expensive and often booked up.

I decided to make the call now so that I’ve got time to get the word out. I’ll be posting to the Facebook sites, making a Twitter announcement, and emailing those I have addresses for. I’ll also post signs at the location.

We will be back the following week (February 4) at our usual time and location.

Improv Workshop January 21, 2015

Wouldn’t you know, last week three people brought cameras and took pictures. This week we had none. So, no pictures this post.

Class was smaller, counting in at 21 people (yeah, that’s a “smaller” class), and that included two people new to the workshop. We started with Character Intro, and then did two rounds of Enemy Defender. Next came a simple version of Pass the Clap, and then right into One Word Story, this time everyone in one big group.

Next came the Short form stage work, and we started with Story, Story, Die. We switched to Story, Story, Shame when we had new folks trying it out, which is a version without the competitive elimination component. When someone misses a transition, the audience shouts out “shame” rather than “die”, and we then identify the problem for the player. People familiar with the game prefer the competitive elimination version (DIE!)

Counting Words came next which went pretty well, followed by Irish Drinking Song. After that we had about 20 minutes left, so I decided to finish with a 3 Line Drill. We haven’t done any open form work for awhile, so it was time to bring it back, and introduce the newer players to this way of starting scenes. It’s also a way to hone the skills of experienced players, and yes, okay, right off the bat I screwed up and never established a relationship! DO AS I SAY, NOT…


Improv Workshop January 14, 2015

Another big class this week: 27 people all told with 6 new to the workshop. Big classes are always fun with lots of energy, but I need to change some of the exercises around so that we can get in a few more games.

Speaking of which, we started the night with Character Intro, Limericks, Ball Transform, and One Word Story (two groups again). Then on to Standing-Sitting-Bending and a new one for us, Decreasing Scene. That one was done in groups of three, and started with a 30 second scene. Then the scene is replayed as a three word sentence scene, and the final round is replaying it with no words. It was a good learning piece, challenging for everyone, and was quick.

We finished the night with Beasty Rap, Switch Dubbing, and Freeze tag. Now that I see the whole list, we got quite a few pieces in!

This week we had better cameras, so here are a few pictures.