shakespeare theatre game improv for school fun

Improv Acting, Games & Fun Show Ideas



The key to improv is to:

1) Do the first thing that comes to mind related to the situation/scene/topic

2) Don't try to be funny

3) Always say yes (agree with what the other actors do and build on it)


First Improv Games for Kids



Pass the Ball: All players in a circle. Ask the players to pass a mimed ball to others (one ball at a time). The ball becomes heavier, until it weighs a ton, or extremely light, extremely big (and light or heavy) or extremely small (and light or heavy). Actors need to show the ball's characteristics in the way it gets passed.

So simple a baby can play it!


Mirror Exercise: Pair up actors. One actor is the mirror and must copy everything the other actor does. A variation on this game is called Copy Cat. With Copy Cat, you can also add sounds and copy the noises the actor makes. See the video for an example of Copy Cat with our baby improver.



Shrinking Box: Actors pantomine that they are in a very large box. Show audience all the sides. Then the box gets smaller. Show the audience how small it is getting. Then they must figure out a way to escape. The actor must do a good job showing the audience how they have escaped so they can correctly guess how.

Group Stop: Everyone quietly mills about the room. One person will elect to freeze in position unexpectedly. As soon as one notices that someone else has frozen in position they freeze as well. So the effect of one person freezing causes everyone to freeze. Once everyone is still the group starts milling around again. The goal is to see how quickly the group can freeze in position.

3 Noses:
A fun and silly game. Let everyone walk leisurely around the room. When you shout '3 Noses' the players must form little groups, each group consisting of 3 touching noses. Use your imagination - say 4 feet, 3 hands, 2 ears, 9 fingers, 5 hips, 4 elbows, 3 heads, 7 left big toes, 4 little fingers. Repeat till everyone is giggling.



Honey Walk:
All actors walk in place. The audience calls out different things they must walk through. Snow, ice, mud, jello, honey...

Freeze:
Split the kids in to two equal groups. If you have an odd number, have one kid play the leader. Have one group walk around the other group. When the leader yells freeze, the group walking must each freeze in to a silly pose. The other group must each pick someone to swap with and must do the same exact silly pose. When all the kids have switched, the leader yells "Go" and the students unfreeze, walk around the other group until the leader yells "Freeze" again.

Flock of Seagulls:
You have a lead actor and four other actors who must copy everything the lead actor does. The problem is that each of the other actors have some sort of problem. One has their foot stuck to the floor, one can't put their arms down, one has their hands stuck to their head, one keeps falling asleep (add your own problems).

Melodrama:
We have an old fashioned melodrama for you, but with a twist. The twists will be based on suggestions from the audience. We have three characters: a damsel in distress, a hero, and a villain. Audience: you will Boo at Villain, Cheer for Hero, Ahhh for Damsel. Audience will suggest... Damsel: something strange to raise on a farm, Villain: a weird form of torture, Hero: an odd weapon someone might use to stop a villain.

Here Comes Jill:
One actress plays Jill who is off stage. The other two actors are patrons at a restaurant and describe what Jill is like while she is off stage. Jill is a waitress and when Jill comes in, she has to act like she is described.

Fairy Tale in a Minute:
The actors pick a fairy tale (or get one from the audience) and then act out the story in one minute. Then they must act out the same thing in 30 seconds. THEN they must act it out in 10 seconds.

Lines from our Pockets:
The audience will write lines for the actors to say. Someone will collect the lines and not show them to the actors. The actors will act out the scene and then they must interject the lines into the scene.

Stunt Doubles:
2 Actors are acting a scene such as washing a car. When it comes time to do a "dangerous" step (such as turning on the hose) they call in their stunt doubles.

Alphabet Game:
The actors act out a scene but they must start each sentence with the letters of the alphabet. If an actor gets a letter wrong, audience yells SLEEP and remaining actors continue.

Improv Games organized with a Theme: Fairy Tales, Superheroes, American Revolution, Save the Earth and Hamlet


Fairy Tale Improv Games

Honey Walk: All actors walk in place. They are walking through the forest to Grandma's house. The audience calls out different things they must walk through. Snow, ice, mud, jello, honey...

Fairy Tale in a Minute: The actors get a fairy tale title from the audience and then act out the story in one minute. Then they must act out the same thing in 30 seconds. THEN they must act it out in 10 seconds.

Stunt Doubles: 2 Actors are acting a scene such as dealing with a big bad wolf or wicked witch or helping Rapunzel escape from her tower. When it comes time to do a "dangerous" step (such as turning on the hose) they call in their stunt doubles.

Lines from our Pockets: The audience will write lines for the actors to say. Someone will collect the lines and not show them to the actors. The actors will act out a fairy tale scene and then they must interject the lines into the scene.

Here Comes Jill: One actress plays Jill who is off stage. The other two actors are Jack and a friend. Jack and the friend describes what Jill is like while she is off stage. Jill enters looking for her pail and when she comes in, she has to act like she is described.

Press Conference This is good for getting a kid to feel comfortable standing in front of a group by themselves. One kid volunteers to be the "famous fairy tale character." The kid becomes the famous character by acting the same as the person and using their voice or accent but can only answer yes or no. The other students interview the "famous character" and they get yes or no answers until they can guess who it is.

American Revolution Improv Games

Have a 4th of July Improv Party with Theatre Games!

Game 1: Pass the Firecracker
A leader is picked and everyone gets in a circle. The leader pantomimes the size of the firecracker and the others in the group have to copy it. When it gets back to the leader, the leader will make it bigger or smaller and pass it again. The leader can add sounds and the others must copy the sounds. Then the leader can randomly say boom and the actor with the firecracker has to react (they can be scared, excited, shocked, etc.). Another variation is to let each actor change the firecracker size and sound. They have to copy the size and sound given to them but then they change it when they pass it to another actor.

Game 2: Where does the 4th of July come from?
A leader pretends to be a narrator of a documentary and the actors must act out the documentary the leader describes. They can do it as a slideshow/powerpoint with still picture poses or actually act out what is being narrated.

Back in time to early America...

Game 3: Inventions with Ben Franklin (aka props)
All the actors are Ben Franklin. Give the Ben Franklins weird things and he has to say what they do. The object can do another except what it really does.

Game 4: Questions Only while Writing the Constitution
Actors get in two lines are represent the Founding Father writing the Constitution. They argue and make suggestions for the Constitution but must do it in the form of a question. If they make a statement or don't use a question, then they must go to the back of the line.

Game 5: Here Comes Madison
"James Madison was highly unpleasant. Bill of Rights champion and Jefferson protégé James Madison, was called “a cloistered pedant”, “cold and repulsive”, “a gloomy stiff creature” and “the most unsociable creature in existence” by contemporaries. He was also a hypochondriac who never traveled because he feared the effects a cold Atlantic Ocean would have on his health." But he wasn't all bad. "James Madison tried to found a National Brewery and a position that we feel would rival head of the State Department in prominence: The Secretary of Beer."
Now for the game. Actors will play early American colonists who are at a brewery that James Madison is trying to start. Before he comes out to take their order and serve them, the actors give him one strange attribute that Madison must act out. Then Madison leaves and the colonists give him a new trait/problem. Madison returns with both the old attribute and new problem. This can be done three times (or more if it is going really well).

Game 6: Pick your General (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly)
You must pick a General to lead your American troops in the revolution. 3 players (Generals) form a line upstage. The audience provides questions or problems for which they need advice, and the 3 Generals provide good, bad, and really bad advice. Good advice should be good, bad should be opposite of the good and ugly should be an even worse version of bad. Once one set of good, bad and ugly advice is given. Other actors (soldiers) can act out the advice if you want to extend the game.

Game 7: Stand Sit Slump
3 colonial army scouts are looking for British soldiers. One must be standing, one must be sitting and one must slump down on the ground. After each actor says one thing, the last actor to speak must pick a new position (stand) and the others must adjust and pick the two remaining positions (sit and slump). This can continue until a high moment of humor or until one actor messes up.

Game 8: Lines from our Pocket
The audience writes funny lines on pieces of paper that the actors can not see. The actors put the lines in their pockets. The scene is about Paul Revere looking for a good catch phrase to call out to warm everyone about British soldiers coming. Each time the actors want to suggest a phrase to Paul, they take one of the funny lines from their pocket and read it.

Game 9: The Revolution in a Minute
Two people get a suggestion from the audience about a famous moment in the American Revolution and perform a scene which is timed and completed in 60 seconds. The same scene is performed in 30 seconds and then again in 10 seconds.

Game 10: Toy Soldiers
1-2 actors are colonial soldiers and 1-2 actors are British soldiers. They must do battle but none of them can move on their own. They can only speak. 2 audience members must move them in to battle.

Game 11: Revolution Victory Party
One actor is the host of a victory party. He has invited both real and fictional American Revolution figures (Betsy Ross, Molly Pitcher, George Washington, Paul Revere, etc.). Audience members can write down names of famous Revolutionary people and then other actors are given those papers. The actors come to the part as those characters but can't reveal their name). The host must guess who the actors are.

Superhero Improv Show Ideas



Defeat the Superhero League:
One actor is a super villain. Three or four actors pick superheroes they want to be but keep their identify secret from everyone. Each superhero bursts in to the villain's secret lab. The actor must act like their hero but can't say their name. The villain must guess who they are to defeat them and get keep them from destroying the secret lab. If the villain doesn't guess in a few minutes, another superhero enters. When all the heroes are present and have a chance to show their powers, then the villain must guess who they are (within a time limit) or be defeated.

Gibberish:
A group of actors (group #1) are superheroes from another world and act out a scene speaking in a weird alien language. They act out a simple activity like playing baseball or cooking. The other group of actors (group #2) act out the same scene and translate what was said in English.
Variation: have actors translate what was said by the aliens as they act
Variation 2: have a actor play a superhero alien who speaks gibberish and have the other actors try to figure out what he/she is saying in a scene where an alien lands in their backyard

Press Conference:
One actor volunteers to be the "famous person" from comic books or superhero movies. The actor becomes the famous person by acting the same as the person and using their voice or accent but can only answer yes or no. The other students interview the "famous person" and they get yes or no answers until they can guess who it is.

Superhero Story in a Minute:
The actors get a superhero story title from the audience and then act out the story in one minute. Then they must act out the same thing in 30 seconds. THEN they must act it out in 10 seconds.

Stunt Doubles:
2 Actors are acting a scene such as dealing with a villain who is doing something bad. When it comes time to do a "dangerous" step (such as punching the villain) they call in their stunt doubles. The easier the "dangerous" task is, the funnier it can be (such as picking up litter).

Lines from our Pockets:
The audience will write lines for the actors to say. Someone will collect the lines and not show them to the actors. The actors will act out a superhero scene and then they must work the lines into the scene.

Here Comes Superfly:
One actor plays Superfly who is off stage. The other two actors are two citizens who need help. The two citizens are disappointed to see Superfly coming and describe the terrible things Superfly does while he/she is off stage. Superfly enters to try and help and she has to act like she is described.

Evil Inventions (aka props):
All the actors are super villains. Give the villains weird things they have never seen before and they must say what they do. The object can do anything except what it really does.

Questions Only:
Actors get in two lines (one line is villain and the other is heroes). They talk in the form of a question. If they make a statement or don't use a question, then they must go to the back of the line or the audience can shout DIE and they must do a dramatic death scene. The line with the most left at the end wins.

Stand Sit Slump:
A superhero faces two villains (or two heroes face one villain). One must be standing, one must be sitting and one must slump down on the ground. After each actor says one thing, the last actor to speak must pick a new position (stand) and the others must adjust and pick the two remaining positions (sit and slump). This can continue until a high moment of humor or until one actor messes up.

Pick your Superhero (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly):
You must pick a superhero to join your League of Just Avengers. 3 players (superheroes) form a line upstage. The audience provides questions or problems for which they need advice. Actor #1 always provide good advice, actors #2 always gives bad advice , and actors #3 gives really bad advice. Good advice should be good, bad should be opposite of the good and ugly should be an even worse version of bad. Action Figures: 1-2 actors are superhero action figures and 1-2 actors are villain action figures. They must do battle but none of them can move on their own. They can only speak. 2 audience members must move them in to battle.


Save the Earth Improv Games



Here are ideas to create a theme show about "Saving the Earth" with Improv Games for Kids

A couple of good warm-ups:

Honey Walk: All actors walk in place. The audience calls out different things they must walk through. Snow, ice, (ice caps are melting!) then mud, waste, trash, etc.

Pass the Ball of Trash: All players in a line. Ask the players to pass a mimed ball of trash to others (one ball at a time). The ball becomes heavier, until it weighs a ton, or extremely light, extremely big (and light or heavy) or extremely small (and light or heavy) or very smelly. Actors need to show the ball's characteristics in the way it gets passed. The last person in line crosses the stage to the first player and as they do, the audience can call out a suggestion of what the ball of trash becomes.

Documentary or Slide Show: A leader pretends to be a narrator of a documentary and the actors must act out the documentary the leader describes (leader does a Save the Earth like animals in crisis). They can do it as a slideshow/powerpoint with still picture poses or actually act out what is being narrated.

Stunt Doubles: 2 Actors are acting a scene such as dealing with someone who is doing something bad to the Earth. When it comes time to do a "dangerous" step (such as picking up some litter) they call in their stunt doubles. The easier the "dangerous" task is, the funnier it can be (such as picking up gum wrapper).

Lines from our Pockets: The audience will write lines for the actors to say. Someone will collect the lines and not show them to the actors. The actors will act out a Save the Earth scene and then they must work the lines into the scene.

Here Comes Jill: One actor plays Jill who is off stage. The other two actors are two friends concerned about how wasteful Jill is. The two describe the terrible things Jill does while he/she is off stage. Jill enters and she has to act like she is described.

Eco Inventions (aka props): All the actors are sharing their new Save the Earth products. Give the actors weird things they have never seen before and they must say what they do. The object can do anything except what it really does.

Questions Only: Actors get in two lines (one line is Pro-Earth and the other is Anti-Environment). They talk in the form of a question. If they make a statement or don't use a question, then they must go to the back of the line or the audience can shout DIE and they must do a dramatic death scene. The line with the most left at the end wins.

Stand Sit Slump: Three scientists are testing the environment for contamination. One must be standing, one must be sitting and one must slump down on the ground. After each actor says one thing, the last actor to speak must pick a new position (stand) and the others must adjust and pick the two remaining positions (sit and slump). This can continue until a high moment of humor or until one actor messes up.

Melodrama: Do an old fashioned melodrama, but with a twist. The twists will be based on suggestions from the audience. Have three characters: a damsel in distress, a hero, and a villain. Audience: will Boo at Villain, Cheer for Hero, Ahhh for Damsel. Audience will suggest... Damsel: something strange to raise on a farm (wind or solar farm), Villain: a weird form of torture, Hero: an odd weapon someone might use to stop a villain.

Gibberish: A group of actors (group #1) are aliens from another world and act out a scene speaking in a weird alien language. They act out a simple activity like picking up trash or recycling. The other group of actors (group #2) act out the same scene and translate what was said in English.
Variation: have actors translate what was said by the aliens as they act
Variation 2: have a actor play a superhero alien who speaks gibberish and have the other actors try to figure out what he/she is saying in a scene where an alien lands in their backyard Pick your Eco Hero (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly): You must pick a hero to join your Save the Earth Club. 3 players (superheroes) form a line upstage. The audience provides Save the Earth questions or problems for which they need advice. Actor #1 always provide good advice, actors #2 always gives bad advice , and actors #3 gives really bad advice. Good advice should be good, bad should be opposite of the good and ugly should be an even worse version of bad.

Action Figures: 2-4 actors are the litter patrol. They have a contest to see who can pick up the most trash but none of them can move on their own. They can only speak. 2 audience members must move them in the race to pick up the most trash.

School Team Spirit Improv Show Ideas



Team Spirit School Spirit Homecoming Improv

Victory Walk: The team walks in place in a life. Audience or leader calls out different things they have to walk through. Snow, ice, mud, rain, etc. When the leader feels like they get through one, then he yells victory and they cheer.

Documentary or Slide Show: A leader pretends to be a narrator of a documentary and the actors must act out the documentary the leader describes. They story is the glorious history of the class/team/group. They story can be over the top such as helping with world peace, ending hunger in Africa, etc. They can do it as a slideshow/powerpoint with still picture poses or actually act out what is being narrated.

Stunt Doubles: 2 Actors play two people from the other team. They can't do anything right or they are scared to do simple tasks such as throw a ball so they call in members of your team to help and show they how to do it. When it comes time to do a "dangerous" step (such as tying their shoes) they call in their stunt doubles. The easier the "dangerous" task is, the funnier it can be (such as picking up a gum wrapper). Helping Hands: Have two groups of actors. One group plays the home team or school. The other team plays the opposing school or team. They are preparing for the big game by eating their dinners. But the opposing team's hands are played by other actors (they come from behind and have their arms come under the front player's arms who wraps their arms behind their backs). They then must eat their meal with their unseeing arms doing the feeding.

Lines from our Pockets: The audience will write lines for the actors to say. Someone will collect the lines and not show them to the actors. The actors will act out a team/school spirit scene and then they must work the lines into the scene. You can have two actors play people from the other team and give them weird lines to say and then give the good team people cool lines to say.

Here Comes Jack and Jill: Two actors play Jack and Jill who are off stage. Jack and Jill are from the other team or school. Two home team/school actors describe the terrible things Jack and Jill do while he/she is off stage. Jack and Jill enter and they have to act like described.

Questions Only: Actors get in two lines (one line is the home team/school and the other is opposing team/school). They talk in the form of a question. If they make a statement or don't use a question, then they must go to the back of the line or the audience can shout DIE and they must do a dramatic death scene. The line with the most left at the end wins.

Stand Sit Slump: Three players are preparing for the big game. One must be standing, one must be sitting and one must slump down on the ground. After each actor says one thing, the last actor to speak must pick a new position (stand) and the others must adjust and pick the two remaining positions (sit and slump). This can continue until a high moment of humor or until one actor messes up.

Pick your Captain of the team (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly): You must pick a Captain to lead your team. 3 players form a line upstage. The audience provides questions or problems for which they need advice. Actor #1 always provide good advice, actors #2 always gives bad advice , and actors #3 gives really bad advice. Good advice should be good, bad should be opposite of the good and ugly should be an even worse version of bad.

Gibberish: A group of actors (group #1) are from the other team/school and act out a scene speaking in a weird alien language. They act out a simple activity like stretching before the big game. The other group of actors (group #2) act out the same scene and translate what was said in English. Variation: have actors translate what was said by the other team/school actors as they act

Melodrama: Do an old fashioned melodrama, but with a twist. The twists will be based on suggestions from the audience. Have three characters: a damsel in distress (from the home team/school), a hero (from the home team/school, and a villain (a character from the other team/school). Audience: will Boo at Villain, Cheer for Hero, Ahhh for Damsel. Audience will suggest... Damsel: something strange to sell for a school fund raiser, Villain: a weird form of torture, Hero: an odd weapon someone might use to stop a villain. Game Day Story in a Minute: The actors act out a story of their big victory game and then act out the story in one minute. Then they must act out the same thing in 30 seconds. THEN they must act it out in 10 seconds.

All games relate to the plot of Hamlet

Your theatre group will need 4 actors and a leader to cover PLOT, run games, and get volunteers from audience.

INTRODUCTION

(Someone plays a famous person and does charts of Hamlet plot - See "Our Story Begins..." below)

PLOT: Hamlet's father is murdered. The main suspects in the murder are his wife Gertrude and his brother Claudius (Hamlet's uncle)

CSI - In the style of the TV show - actors try to solve the murder of Hamlet's father (select three audience members play Claudius, Gertrude, King) Witness (actor #1) - tells version and volunteers from audience act it out Cop (actor #2) - tells version and volunteers act it out Gil and Katherine (actors 3 and 4) - tell their version and volunteers act it out

PLOT: A ghost has been appearing at the castle. Soldiers are waiting for ghost to reappear - ghost is of Hamlet's father and reveals that it was a most unnatural murther.

Film and TV styles - Audience calls out movies and tv shows (such as Batman and Robin, Dukes of Hazzard, Harry Potter, Blue's Clues, Dora, Alien vs. Predator, Star Wars) - Actors 1 with audience volunteer are soldiers waiting for something outside castle - a ghost appears (Actor #2) - LEADER CHANGES MOVIE/TV STYLE- ghost leaves when rooster crows - CHANGE IN MOVIE/TV STYLE- Horatio (actor #3) enters - CHANGE IN MOVIE/TV STYLE- ghost appears and goes - CHANGE IN MOVIE/TV STYLE- Hamlet (actor #4) enters and talks to ghost

PLOT: Hamlet decides to use a play to make his Uncle confess to his father's murder. He believes that if the murder is reenacted on stage his Uncle will reveal himself.

Possible games - Gibberish

PLOT: Hamlet goes to his mother because he feels she was part of the plot to kill his father. Polonius, Ophelia's father, is hiding and spying on them. Hamlet tries to make his mother confess but when he becomes violent, Polonius cries for help. Hamlet thinks it is his Uncle who is spying and attacks. Polonius is killed.

Stunt Double (Hamlet - Polonius - Hamlet's mother) Three audience volunteers are needed. Hamlet: Actor 1 Hamlet's Stunt Double: Audience Member Gertrude: Audience Member Gertrude's Stunt Double: Actor 2 Polonius: Audience Member Polonius' Stunt Double: Actor 3

HAMLET COMES TO HIS MOTHER
Two characters do the scene from Hamlet and when one of the actors is about to get hurt, they call for a stunt double. The stunt double takes the physical punishment, the scene then resumes with the original actor who is unharmed. The stunt doubles for the scene carry previous injuries into subsequent times they enter the scene. PLOT: Ophelia is so upset that Hamlet has gone crazy and killed her father Polonius that she goes crazy too and drowns herself.

Lines from our pockets - At Ophelia's funeral (four actors) Audience Participation: During an intermission or before the show, the audience writes lines of dialogue on pieces of paper. How it works: The two actors do a simple scene, but must pull lines intermittently from the pocket, and incorporate them into the scene. Wackiness ensues.

(use the following if the first CSI game went well)

BAKCUP GAME CSI - Crime scene - Ophelia's death Witness - tells version and they act it out Cop - tells version and they act it out Gil and Katherine - tell their version and they act it out

PLOT: Laertes challenges Hamlet to a dual to the death to avenge the deaths of his father Polonius and his sister Ophelia. But Hamlet's uncle has poisoned them both and they are paralyzed. They can talk but they can't move.

Poisoned! Battle to the death but can't move - helpers from audience help Hamlet (actor 1) and Laertes (actor 2) fight - introduce more actors into the scene to frustrate audience members - Gertrude (actor 3) and Claudius (actor 4). PLOT: Due to a lack of Mr. Yuck labels in the castle, everyone seems to fall victim to the poison that Claudius intended for Hamlet alone. Which is kind of symbolic don't you think?

Questions only (tournament of champions) - audience yells “Die” Actors vs. Guests - All volunteers from previous games asked to return - must speak in questions - audience person who answers the most times in questions in a row wins

Scene: What is rotten in the state of Denmark? Our story begins… (you may want to start the show with a plot poster - we tried this for one performance but ended up not needing it)

Denmark in a smellier time (poster can be in shape of Denmark - act like something on back of poster smells)
Hamlet's father dead
His mother Gertrude marries Hamlet's Uncle Claudius
The ghost of dead King appears at the castle and tells Hamlet that Uncle killed him
Hamlet starts to behave strangely after seeing ghost
Hamlet has some actors do a play that reenacts his father's murder and makes Claudius and Gertrude very uncomfortable.
Hamlet visits his mother in her bedroom in a scene that makes the audience very uncomfortable and kills Polonius who is spying (thinking it is Claudius).
Claudius sends two spies , Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, to kill Hamlet but they have a contract dispute and receive larger roles in another play.
Ophelia goes nuts after her father Polonius is killed and drowns herself.
Hamlet agrees to a duel with Laertes (Ophelia's brother) and Claudius adds poison to Laertes blade to make sure Hamlet dies.
Claudius also offers Hamlet a poison cup to drink from but Gertrude drinks it instead and dies.
Hamlet stabs Laertes and Laetres stabs Hamlet. Hamlet (taking forever to die) kills Claudius. And Hamlet dies


Other games we tried

Dating Game with Gertrude plus Hamlet, Claudius and Dead Father as the bachelors - failed miserably for us.

Party Quirks - we had strange quests coming to the wedding feast of Gertrude and Claudius - it was funny but it didn't seem to make sense in the overall context of things.

Links to More Fun Improv Games

Complete Improv Workshop

MadScripts
(fill in blank plays)


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