Dance of Breathing 2 – a pure improvisation activity

Purpose of the Activity  This is a standalone activity but can be linked to Dance of Breathing 1. This breathing improvisation explores the effect others have on us, particularly exploring closeness and vicinity.It also can be used to explore status, difference and diversity, as well as the simplicity of play. Process Work in pairs. The…

An exercise in falling into impro

Purpose of the activity Many facilitators of improvisation work with the metaphors of “energising” a group or “ice-breaking” early on at a workshop. A friend of mine, Jack Martin Leith critique ice-breakers because they assume there is “ice” – people in a default state of coldness, stuckness, and that they need “un-freezing”. I agree with…

The Graveyard Activity

Overview of the activity This is a powerful activity that can be used to explore career, personal development and biography. It takes many people into a zone of discomfort, a topic that they may not want to explore, so should be taken with this activity. We should be sensitive in choosing it and also throughout…

Dance of Breathing 1 – a pure improvisation activity

Purpose of the Activity In this activity we focus on the very basic/even primal aspect of breathing, and begin to relate it to being “present”, to “presence” and to improvisation. It’s an activity to be done individually, can also be done alone, and I recommend plenty of time for detailed after-activity reflection and discussion. The…

Crystal Ball – an exercise in present and future improvisation

Purpose of the activity This is a lovely game for exploring the role of “visioning” and “futuring” in improvisation. When is knowing or deciding the future a help or a hindrance? Process Start with a group of five, with everyone else watching. Decide a scene to be played out. For example, a picnic. Choose someone…

Exploring Resonance – An Activity

Overview This activity explores the notion of resonance in improvisation. It is a very helpful activity for doing physical theatre work that is based around inter-personal dynamics. In an applied setting it can explore agreement/disagreement and the notion of affinity in vision and values and also in terms of decision making and leadership. It’s a…

Finding Our Connection – A Simple Applied Improvisation Activity

Overview This is a very simple and powerful activity for people who don’t think they know each other. You might have played a version of it before, though not in this exact context. It’s really just a conversation exercise and can work well in small groups, but also with a group working the activity in…

Fingertip Connection – an activity

Purpose of the Activity This is a rather unique exercise taking applied improvisation to the borderland between face to face and text-based communication Process   Work in threes (one to observe – you can swap around) Sit face to face. Required: each participant has a mobile phone with plenty of credit for texting. Set up…

The Breath Improvisation

Purpose of the Activity This is another strange and wonderfully minimalist exercise. Minimalist improvisation really can create a non-verbal experience of improvisation in its most essential form. This is an example of a minimalist improvisation activity that can be enacted at almost any stage of an improvisation workshop or event. It is also very good…

A neat little breathing exercise

Purpose of the Activity Sharing breathing is a foundation of all communication. This exercise is a great prep game for singing and generally for improvisation work. It is also good in conflict and communication resolution activities, as well as group and community building. This is another fairly minimalist activity whose power lies in simplicity. Breathing…

The Danger of Games in Improvisation

The difficulty I have with the “games” is how attached some people have become to them, especially in, of all fields, improvisation. Games are often used to “warm up” and “loosen up” for improvisation performance. They are used a lot in training and workshops. Let’s take a look at the process of play, which lies…

What is to be done about Improvisation?

I’ve had four connections with the world of improvisation during my professional life. Firstly I led theatre workshops for over fifteen years as part of Brighton’s community-based Upstairs Theatre Company. This company is a bit of a legend in the city of Brighton having given birth to the professional careers of a lot of actors,…

Silence and Patience – a naturalistic activity

One way to get into the themes of silence and patience is to use a form of naturalistic improvisation. What I like about naturalistic improv is that there is little or no “performance” aspect to it. We are not playing particularly to an audience, for laughs, or indeed any kind of theatrical effect – though…

The Institutionalisation of Spontaneity

Of all the fields of personal and organisational practice, applied improvisation and self-organising, emergent processes such as Open Space  are the ones that ought to be a space for very fluid, emergent, and probably transitory forms to come into being.   Networks are pretty structural and I would suggest they bind unnecessarily what is possible…

A Wonderfully Strange Improvisation Activity

A lot of impro games try to get you into the “spontaneity zone”, in the present, in the moment. Some bring you right up to the present moment, but still allow you a few seconds before the present moment to “make something up”. And, after all, a few seconds before the “moment” is so damn…

The Essence of Improvisation

Is spontaneity a moment? Or does the spontaneous “event” actually occur outside time? Is spontaneity a split-second conscious “in the moment” decision or is it something that cannot be conscious but surprises us “in the moment”? Does an in-the-moment spontaneous act, compared to a split-second pre-the-moment decision to act make ALL the difference in terms…

A fundamental idea that underpins Improvisation

When we become too “haunted” or influenced by our past – our habits and learned attitudes and behaviours can become standardised responses to present situations, and also the way we imagine the future. These standardised responses often have, at their basis, a motive to keep us physically, emotionally and/or spiritually “safe”. The past can therefore…

Improvisational Anchors

The following practical ideas for improvisation activities arose from a group discussion at an organisational theatre workshop. I still find them very relevant for activity design today… The question put to the group was: How do we avoid improvisations going completely off into chaos and “over the top” to the point of confusion?   We…

Stepping into the moment

The hardest part is the easiest part: stepping into the moment before being in the moment. In that blink of an eye before the now, what are we doing? If we are plotting the next blink, planning the instant to follow, are we improvising at all? Stepping over the precipice and finding we do no…

Scripted Improvisation

Purpose of the Activity You might be surprised that working with scripts can also be very improvisational, but it can! It also creates a useful bridge that is a relevant at work, where employees and managers often have to work to “scripts” and then depart from them in ad-hoc situations. They alternative between predicted and…

stepping into the moment before being in the moment

The hardest part is the easiest part: stepping into the moment before being in the moment. In that blink of an eye before the now, what are we doing? If we are plotting the next blink, planning the instant to follow, are we improvising at all?   Stepping over the precipice and finding we do…

An Improvisation Workshop – theatrelab notes

A day of further work on very simple improvisation. Three chairs placed upon the stage.  Three actors. One hour.   The following rules: to allow reaction to occur rather than pro-action. Yet of course someone has to make a move yet no one quite knws who – the reaction emerges quickly.   Three rules to…