Hoopla teacher Rhiannon Vivian’s Top Five Short Form Games for Beginners

Fun Short Form Games for Beginners

Have you learned some games at one of our improv classes, and want to explore more? Or perhaps you’ve seen some games played at one of our shows and you want to know how they work? Check out these five fun short form games from teacher Rhiannon Vivian!


Oracle involves four people, set behind each other. One at the front sitting on the floor, one behind sat on a chair, the one behind that standing and the last one stood on a chair. That way we can see all their faces. Oracle is a brilliant low stakes word at a time short form game. The director simply takes big life questions from the audience, like ‘Is there a God?’ and ‘Why are we here?’ or ‘Will England win the World Cup’ and then asks the Oracle, who answers it a word at a time (per person). When Oracle is in action everyone’s arms wave to the side. When Oracle is in silent contemplation everyone’s hands are together in a kind of ‘prayer’ pose. It’s funny, simple and daft. And being word at a time you can guess how wise oracle sounds. Sometimes very. Sometimes just plain ridiculous!

Pointing Story

Otherwise known as Storyteller Die. You can play this without the ‘die’ part for super beginners (cos let’s face it, an audience yelling die at your first gig isn’t the most positive experience!) About 5 people get up, stand in a line and tell a story between them, only speaking when the director is pointing at them. The title for the made up story is taken from the audience then it’s up to the players to tell the story continuously, so even if someone is in the middle of a word and the director’s finger points elsewhere, that next person should try and finish the half spoken word to make it seamless. Adding in different chapters with extra tasks for the players is also fun, like getting them to do Chapter 2 in a regional accent, or Chapter 3 in rhyming couplets, or Chapter 4 while dancing.

Twin Pillars

Easy! Two people are up playing a scene, with two audience members either side. The role of the audience members is simply to provide one word when tapped on the shoulder. While in the scene the players will conveniently ‘forget’ their words at intervals and then tap the audience (or the pillar) for a word to finish the sentence. The audience can say helpful words or if the word that pops into their head is weird or left-field that’s part of the fun. The player then has to incorporate and justify this peculiar offer. A real example from some of my talented newbies recently was a scene set on a date. One of the players said, ‘I don’t kiss on a first date I…’ then tapped the player playing the pillar who said, ‘juggle!’ So, I don’t kiss on a first date, I juggle! I just love the new reality that gets created by one random word.

Word at a time expert

Three players stand next to each other shoulder to shoulder to play one entire person (or in this case an expert in something), who speaks one word at at time. Then another player plays the interviewer. All you need from the audience is something for someone to be an expert in (like rollerskating fish, or dancing plants) and you’re away! The interviewer treats the game as if we’ve just zoned in on a TV channel all about that expertise and proceeds to interview our expert, who given that it’s a word at a time answer, often makes sense in the funniest and weirdest of ways. Getting them to read an extract from their imaginary autobiography always goes down well.


Slideshow is perfect for players who just want to find their feet on stage. All it is, is players on the back line creating pictures or tableaus of holiday photos that two players in the front have to justify. Essentially it’s like someone showing you their holiday snaps. Except the ones presenting have no idea what the back line will do. And vice versa. Both have to justify the offers each other make. So there are 3 or 4 players are on the back line and it’s their task to just make tableaus that look like holiday photographs. Then two players at the front of the stage have to make sense of that tableau in relation to their fictional holiday. They can ‘click’ to a new photo by simple coming together on stage and pretending to use a slideshow clicker to move the image to the next one. It’s tons of fun and really good for people who want to get up but not necessarily do much talking. And those presenting get a real fun time making sense of their team mates offers, and then creating scenarios right back at them to create.

Rhiannon regularly teaches for Hoopla and is part of The MaydaysDreamweaver Quartet & Bumper Blyton who all perform on the Hoopla stage regularly.  Next improv courses starting soon. www.hooplaimpro.com

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