A game from Hoopla teacher James Witt:
I get my students to line up in Rolodex formation and do short scenes with varying restrictions.
First of all, we play “Who, Where, What” three line scenes. If the players fail to name both characters in the scene then the other players in the Rolodex sing “Say My Name Say My Name”.
This is to drill the importance of giving each other names early in every scene. But played with a sense of fun.
In the next round, we play “No Questions” whenever the awaiting players hear a question in a scene they sing “Question” in the style of the lyric in the Destiny’s Child song “Independent Women”. Once three Questions have been asked the scene is over. The Rolodex then sing “Let us see your Halo, Halo” or if the players make it through a three-minute scene without asking more than two questions the Rolodex sings “You’re a Survivor”. I feel it’s important to drill no questions really early on in a beginners course because once players start making statements and not asking questions then their scenes really take off. I find it also means that fewer scenes become confrontational and more flow more naturally. I find that often when asking lots of questions in a scene its because we are looking to our scene partner to guide the scene when it should be a collaborative journey. It also applies a lot of pressure on your scene partner.
The final rounds of Beyoncé feature “no negative words” such as No, Don’t, Can’t, Won’t, Not, Shouldn’t and Couldn’t. When we hear any of these we sing the debut Destiny’s Child song “No, No, No, No, No” and the final rule is no “Meh Words” this includes any non commital words such as “But, Maybe, Perhaps, Possibly etc..” and we sing the “uh oh oh uh oh oh oh” bit from “All the Single Ladies” if we hear any of these non-committal words. Three in a scene and the players move to the back of the Rolodex. These type of “meh” words are often defence mechanisms from the players scared to latch onto certain themes and story arcs in case they’re “not good enough”, but I try and drill that every idea should be embraced.
We then impose all of these rules on the final round of scenes. Which turns into a mini Beyoncé concert.
If you would like to receive our monthly newsletter containing helpful improv resources, improv exercises, casting calls for new shows and news about the UK improv scene please subscribe.
Hoopla are the UK’s first improv theatre and the UK’s biggest improv school with fun and friendly improv shows and classes every day of the week in London and across the UK. We provide fantastic ongoing performing opportunities to students from our courses and a warm, welcoming and supportive community to help make improv for everyone.