Grade: Senior
Subject: other

#4551. Improvisational Theatre

other, level: Senior
Posted Sat Apr 9 08:29:51 PDT 2011 by Meagan Williams (Meagan Williams).
Materials Required: Resource Sheet Attached
Activity Time: 5 55 Minute Classes
Concepts Taught: Students learn the benefits of Improv on and off stage

Improvisational Unit Lesson Plan

Essential Question:

How can improvisational games be a benefit to other aspects of an individual's life outside of theatre?


Five 55 minute classes.


• TAHSADIV.7 Integrating various art forms, other content areas, and life experiences to create theatre
a. Examines how theatre incorporates all art forms via a collaborative process
b. Explores the relationship between theatre and other non-arts disciplines
The Student Will be Able to. . ..
• Explain the social benefits of the improvisational games that they experienced.
• Demonstrate an improved ability to work as a team.
• Explain who Viola Spolin was and what she created for the Improvisational world.
• Demonstrate a multitude of Improvisational skills on the stage.
• Explain and answer many questions about the benefits on and off stage of Improvisational Theatre.
Opening Activity:
Students engaged in a physical warm up daily. This consisted of stretching and relaxation activities to prepare for the games and physical workshops. The teacher also speaks briefly over the lesson to be taught for the day.

Body of Lesson:
• Daily warm-up
• Students receive Viola Spolin Hand out. Briefly discuss the handout and Spolin's belief on Improvisational Theatre.
• Ask students for examples of the use of Improvisation outside of theatre.

• Gibberish Relay- Player in the middle must interpret between the gibberish between the player on her left and right.
• Emotional Symphony- Each player assigned emotion. Then when directed must belt the emotion. All players form a symphony.

Daily Conclusion: Teacher asked students who Viola Spolin was and what she contributed. Then asked the question of what was learned during the games today.

• Daily warm-up

• Three Minutes- Students are shown a reel of 5 comical pictures. Each student must form at least one funny punch line. Share funny lines with class.
• Captains Coming- Team work exercise. The student's must follow one captain's orders.
• Peanut Butter and Jelly Cooking Show- Have all the necessities for one to make a PB&J sandwich. Have two players enter the stage. Must make the sandwich with one player's arms through the other player. Player whose arms are in use must be blindfolded.
• Commercials- Have a few goofy products in mind or let students create them. Have two students try and pitch the product as if they are a sales team.
• Return Item: Have one student exit the room. The class decides on a product and one student is chosen as the customer service representative. Once Item is chosen, let student enter the room and try to return the object. Her goal is to discover what the item is.

Daily Conclusion: Teacher asks students to discuss what they learned from the games played.

• Daily warm-up
• Review key Improvisational Terms
• Discuss the importance of staying in the created environment and character.

• Environment Shift- Players all stand at random. Teacher calls out a random environment such as "The Mall" or "The Ocean." Players must chose an object, inanimate or animate, and dedicate themselves to that object. Continue to play game until students are truly dedicated.
• Group Stop- Students walk around the room. One person chooses to freeze. As soon as a student notices that another has frozen, they also freeze. In effect, one person deciding to freeze makes everyone freeze. Play until group becomes in sync.
• Help Desk- One person is a customer service representative at a store. All players line up to talk to the representative. Each student MUST make a strong character choice. Then they enquire an item related to their character. All physicality's must match the chosen character. Representative is neutral and helpful. Have players describe choices after a full round.
Daily Conclusion: Teacher reviews previous lesson materials. Ask who Viola Spolin is and what some benefits of Improvisation are? Teacher then reviews the terms discussed earlier in the lesson. Also review the importance of dedication to environment and character choice. Inform students of the upcoming quiz on Friday.
• Daily warm-up
• Gibberish: Students create a scene with beginning, middle and, end. However, Students use NO dialogue. Scene is in random noises or a different language. Stress importance of body language and attention to environment/character.
• Mouth: Play a scene. Whenever a player is about to speak, stop and say something else. Ex: if you are about to say, "Hello John how was your weekend?" stop, grab unto that thought and say something else.
• Rope: Players form two columns. First 2 players step forward. Player on the left turns away from the player on the right. Player on the right begins to do an activity using at least three limbs. Player on the left cannot see this and must come up with some line of dialogue. Such as, "Professor Winky! We must save the cat!" Player on the right must justify the movement they are doing with a line that replies. Such as, "Yes Master Corkley, I am running quickly to save it." Have players switch lines after completion.
Daily Conclusion: Teacher asks students to reflect on the games played in the day's lesson. Teacher than reviews material from past lessons and reminds students of the following day's quiz.

• Daily Warm up
• Pass out 5 Question Quiz
• Ask students what some of their favorite games played over the week are. Play some or all suggested
• Giants, Wizards, Elves- Students split into two teams. Have students create action for each character. Then play "Rock, Paper, Scissors" with the characters. Giants beat Elves. Elves beat Giants. Wizards beat Giants. If both teams pick same character it is a draw. The team whose character win a round chase the other team, trying to tag as many members of the other team before the reach a decided safety zone. The members of other team tagged then join the winning team. Game is played until one giant team is formed.
Daily Conclusion: Teacher reviews answers of the quiz. Also clear up any confusion over any questions.

Summative Assessment: Teacher observed and carried on brief discussion at the end of each class. Final Assessment includes brief five question quiz at the end of the lesson and a recap of the lesson as a whole.




CAPTAIN'S COMING FULL DIRECTIONS- Assign one person to be the "Captain." The role of the Captain is call out the actions and dismiss the players who don't do the actions quick enough or who break from character. Once the captain calls an action, each player has 3-4 seconds to start performing the action. If they don't find a group fast enough or perform the right action, they are out of the game.

Captain's Coming!: Everyone stands at "attention" (in a salute), and they can't move from this position until the caller says, "At Ease!" If they laugh or break from the attention, they are dismissed.
To the ship!: Players run to the right.
To the shore!: Players run to the left.
(for an added bonus be sure to point the right direction the first few times and then begin to point the opposite occasionally. You will be surprised how many go the way you point instead of the right direction)
Man Overboard!: One person drops to one knee the other stands behind them, puts a hand on their shoulder. Both scan the ocean for the overboard man
Crow's Nest!: Three players stand backs to each other and lock arms at the elbows to form the crow's nest.
Mess Table!: Four players squat in a circle like sitting at table and pretend to eat like they haven't eaten in days. Tell them to make really loud eating sounds like "YUM YUM YUM YUM YUM!"
Walk the Plank!: Five people stand in a single file row hands on the shoulders of person in front of them
Mermaid!: each player individually thrust out right hip, places right hand on that hip, takes left hand and makes a big exaggerated wave and yells out "howdy sailor!"
3 men rowing: 3 players. Get in a line and pretend to row a boat while singing "row row row your boat".
4 men pointing north: 4 players. All get into a circle and point up.
5 men eating: 5 players. Get in a circle and pretend to eat.
Sea Sick: 1 player. Pretend to throw up.
Beached Whale: 1 player lies on the ground while acting like a beached whale and making weird sounds.
Hit the Deck: Player falls to the floor on their stomach.


Improvisation Vocabulary:

A point of punctuation within a scene.
A form of canceling, which completely denies an offer. Example: "Is that your car?" "No. There's no car here."
Setting up a situation, then neutralizing it. Example: "The phone is ringing!" Picks up phone. Hangs up. "There was nobody there."
Getting a laugh at the expense of the story. Gags are narrative killers, but sometimes useful for ending scenes. Example: A menacing killer corners our hero, pulls out a gun, points, and bites into it explaining that it's made of candy.
A substitute for action. Talking about something that has happened, or is happening off stage. Example: "You should see my new plane, it's over there. (Points offstage) It has gold wings, ..."
Avoiding narrative development with talking or actions. Example: Having to tell a patient bad news, you begin with, "Have a seat. How are you feeling? I suppose you're wondering why I called you in here?"
Instant Trouble
Immediate action that establishes conflict, but doesn't establish narrative. Example: Suddenly turning into a Werewolf. Unexpected Productions
Never-Ending Story
A story that continues to introduce so many new ideas, that it becomes impossible to tie the narrative together. Unexpected Productions
Finding activities to do, as to avoid doing what you established in the beginning. Example: Setting out to fix your car, but seeing the garage is a mess, you decide to clean it. You begin to clean and find an old photo album. You look at pictures, etc. Unexpected Productions
Talking Heads
A scene that becomes void of action, and consists of improvisers onstage talking, not doing.
Talking about an action rather than doing it. Example: "Shall we climb that tree!" "Why sure, it's such a big old oak tree. What do you think we'll be able to see at the top?" "Oh, we should be able to see my house from up there!" etc. Unexpected Productions
Refusing to define an offer. Example: "Who are you?" "I'm the man you called." "The man I called of course! You're here to fix that thing, aren't you?" "Yes, I fix those things better than anyone else."




1. What is Gossip in terms of Improvisation?
2. What is Cancelling in terms of Improvisation?
3. Who is Viola Spolin?
4. Why is forming a character important?
5. In Improv, should you watch your surroundings and your fellow cast members? Why?

Bonus Question:
What are the benefits of Improvisation outside of theatre?

Quiz Key:

1. Talking about something that has happened, or is happening off stage
2. Setting up a situation, and then neutralizing it.
3. Viola Spolin was an American drama teacher and author who was considered the Guru of Improvisational Theatre.
4. No specific answer.
5. No specific answer.

Bonus Question:
No specific answer.