Animal Understudy

Animal Understudy


Two people play a scene based on a suggestion from the audience. Whenever the host shouts “understudy” two other actors rush in to be their understudies, but the understudies are animals instead of humans. The animals carry on in the scene for a bit, and when the host shouts “actors” the original actors switch back again and carry on the scene from the positions the animals were in and justify things that happened.


Lots of variations in this game.

The animals can be played as part animal/part human, an animal inspiration for a character or as full-on animals with no comprehension of language or the scene.

The audience can suggest the animals before the scene starts, or it can be suggested by director.

The animals can change on each round.

The actors might mention things the animals said/did or they could carry on as if nothing happened.

What works best? Who knows! Try them all and see what’s best for you.

Teaching Purpose

This is one of those games that looks like it has no purpose at all but in fact it’s purpose is the biggest of all which is:


Even the shyest of improvisers will come out of their shells when doing this game, as they are so caught up in being the animal (and it is the animal that is to blame) that they are making massive bold physical and emotional offers without even thinking about it.

Also using animals to inspire characters is a well known part of scripted acting too.


Hoopla! We think we invented it in one of our super short-form courses.

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