Some of my most fondest memories from acting class involved group improvisational exercises. These exercises not only taught me how to interact with a group of actors, but it also built my confidence knowing I could hold my own when it came to ensemble acting.
One of my personal favorite group improvisational exercises, and one that I perform regularly, is known as “Giving Scenarios.” This improvisational exercise allows actors to utilize their words, their language, in order to reach certain objectives.
You may use improvisational exercise within a class setting, or if you’re an actor wishing to practice, you may do this with a friend. Either way, this exercise will help you understand not only the power of your physical actions, but also your verbal language, when it comes to achieving your objective.
Selecting an Objective
The first step within this improvisational exercise is to choose the primary objective of your character. This exercise involves two actors; however, only one actor will this have the primary objective while the other actor is responsible for feeding into this objective and providing obstacles for him.
Below is a list of objectives I commonly use when engaging in this exercise:
· To enlighten · To deceive · To seduce · To persuade · To humiliate · To anger · To provoke · To encourage · To entertain · To motivate · To tempt
After you have selected your objective, you must then create the scene.
The wonderful thing about this particular improvisational exercise is it allows the actors to select their scene. For example, the objective for Actor 1 is “To Deceive.” This scene for this objective may be a car salesman trying to deceive a buyer into purchasing a lemon. Or, the scene may be a doctor who is deceiving his patient into taking a trial prescription, claiming that it will heal them, but really he just wants to see what type of side effects it has.
Use your imagination when creating the scene. Allow the actors to discuss the scene for several minutes before starting the exercise.
After the Scene
Once the actors have completed the scene, which will be evident by the first actor achieving his objective, discuss the scene with the actors. After the discussion, switch the actors so the actor with the objective is not the bystander while the other actor is given a new objective. Do not use the same objective twice within the same session.