Two players do a scene, but cannot speak. Two of the other players provide their voices from off-stage by lip-synching with the mouths of the two players on stage. If the players on stage mouth words the players off stage provide their voices, and if the players off-stage start speaking the players on stage mouth along. There isn’t one leader, all players are making offers and sharing the scene.
This is a hard game but when players get it they really learn how to listen to each other and share a scene. It is especially with groups where some people are dominating too much and bulldozing others, as the nature of the game forces everyone to slow down and listen to everyone on stage. When teaching people this game make sure the words are actually in synch with the mouth movements and also that it’s not just being lead by one side, encourage the group to find it together.
It is in an excellent group listening game with players picking up visual and verbal offers from different directions and when people finally get it they experience being very present with the rest of the team, perhaps for the first time.
If with a newer group it is worth them practicing in pairs first before putting on stage as beginners can find it difficult.
Additional Tips for Playing
- Don’t try to dominate, try to share the scene together.
- This game feels confusing at first but give up trying to control it and just listen to the present moment.
- If providing the other person’s voice watch their mouth at all times, move if you need to, and match their mouth shape. If they stop moving their mouth stop speaking.
- Give each other offers. People providing the voice can say things like “I’m going to start up my monster truck” so the players on stage are encouraged into something physical. Players on stage can make bold physical offers and just start mouthing words so the voices off stage kick into action.
- It’s great if you have microphones for the voices, but not essential.
- This game is very similar to sound effects.
- There is also a version with three people on stage each providing the voice for each other, so the mouthing along and voices all happen on stage. It’s really complicated so I’m afraid we haven’t got around to writing that version up yet!
- There is also a version called Gibberish Translator where the scene is in gibberish and then there is a gap between lines where the people at the sides translate inbetween lines.
“This game is called Dubbing. Two improvisers on stage are in a movie and their voices are being dubbed by two people off stage. Please can we get a suggestion for an exciting setting for a movie.”
We first saw it on the original “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”. It may originate from Keith Johnstone, as he often invented these kind of split attention games.
Hoopla courses we play this game in
Mostly in our level 2 course as a show game and also a bit in our level 1 course as a listening exercise and super short-form course.
This exercise is in the following categories:
Teamwork and Support
Short Form Games
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