This is one of our favourite exercises and we think we actually invented it, whoop!
This exercise is great at simultaneously helping improviser find physicality and voice in their characters while also giving them emotional depth and realism.
When playing a character on stage there is also a huge resource that goes with it – you. By accessing what you know, what you believe and how you feel you can give any character immediate depth.
How the exercise works
Two improvisers stood at the back of the stage.
The teacher gives them a suggestion of a character type, especially character types that have easy to go to cliches or stereotypes.
The improvisers then jump on stage and with full commitment embrace that cliche or stereotype and start the scene.
After a few lines the teacher says “say something real”.
The improvisers keep the behaviour, movement, voice that they had before but now say something real as themselves through the character and talk honestly about that through the character.
[Both improvisers jump on stage swinging cutlasses with eye patches and more]
Improviser A: Ah arrr me heartiess!
Improvisers B: Arrrrrr!!! There be land ahoy!
Improviser A: Arrrrr!!! There be treasure for sure me hearties!
Teacher: Say something real!
Improviser A: Arrrrrr! I only put on one pound over Christmas arrrrr!!! I was worried I thought it be more!!!
Improvisers B: Arrrrr! That’s well done my heartie, I don’t measure meself until February.
Improviser A: Arrrrrrr, it barely changes, I’m overweight but it ain’t going up anymore.
Improvisers B: Maybe just accept that this is your weight and adjust to it.
Improviser A: Arrrr, you’re right, except meself for meself.
- Using own life experiences.
- Being honest and truthful.
- Giving depth to characters.