Games and Improv night – Young Vic 08/12/15

I think I missed out the session on 1 December, and now I can’t find my notes. But here are the games we played on Tuesday 8th:

Passing the clap around: Clap at the same time as the person next to you. You can pass it across the circle using eye contact / play with “holding on to” a clap before passing it on.

1-2-3: in pairs, repeat “1-2-3”, try to “mess up” the person you’re playing with. Replace the numbers with an action / a sound. Play the game as a scene (the Olympics / undercover police officers, etc.)

Stop and starting: the group walks around the space, a leader tells them when to stop and when to start. One person who is tapped on the shoulder keeps going when everyone else stops; the group follows them with their eyes.

A and B: tell each other what to do

Extreme spatial relationships: Based on the work of Anne Bogart (Viewpoints). Recommendation: Lukas Angelini is a good London-based teacher for this.

5 steps to heaven (5 levels of panic): get small groups to do an activity (eg chopping wood in the forest). There is a sound (eg a wolf howling) which gets repeated five times. Each time the tension mounts in the activity, on the 5th one the group runs away.

Comic stops, double takes, suspensions: out of John Wright’s physical comedy vocabulary.

Alphabet game: divide the alphabet into the group. For example, if there are 4 people:
1 takes: a, e,i, m, q, u, y
2 takes: b, f, j, n, r, v, z
3 takes: c, g, k, o, s, w
4 takes: d, h, l, p, t, x
Then one person calls out words and the group has to spell them, with each person only saying their letters

Pass the object: the group mimes passing and object around which changes as they pass it to one another.

Blindfolded beaters: two people are blindfolded, they are allowed to each take 3 steps at a time. The “beater” has to touch the other one with a rolled up piece of paper (or something that won’t hurt when it makes contact with the other person). However, the beater is only allowed to touch the person they are chasing after three steps (after two steps or one, they lose). Have the group make sure the blindfolded ones don’t walk into walls.




Games night – Young Vic Directors network

Some of the games we played + recommendations for books about games / devising:

– Counting as a group: if two people say the same number at the same time, we start counting again from “1”

– Capture the bottle in the middle (two teams, everyone in the team has a number – a referee calls out numbers, no crossing over the middle line until the bottle is picked up, the person who makes it back to their side without getting tagged wins the round…)

– Fish and chips: like zip zap boing but with bits that people make up as we go along

– grandmother’s footsteps: with extra “team” elements – passing the keys along, going over a chair,putting on clothes etc.

– chairs: everyone sits in chairs spread around the room. there’s one empty chair and one “walker” who starts as far away as possible from the empty chair. To stop the walker taking the empty chair, one of the people sitting has to touch it, leaving their own chair open, which the walker then tries to capture. Nobody is allowed to return to a chair they have left. The last person whose seat is captured by the walker / the person left standing with only their own chair to return to becomes the walker.

– prisoners on chairs: with “guards” who have to tap the “prisoners” on the shoulders when they try to escape.

– mirroring: good for creating a relationship of intimacy between performers

– living theatre: walking round in a circle and stopping and starting in synch

– Group mirroring and guessing who is the leader


Impro by Keith Johnston (who came up with the status exercises I introduced)
– Viola Spolin
Drama Games for Classrooms and Workshops by Max Stafford-Clard
Fires in the mirror – a youtube video about the making of Anna Deaveare Smith’s play
The Frantic Assembly Book of Devising Theatre