Tuesday, 20 November 2012

NaNoBlogMo2 - Improv Warmups

I haven't talked at length about improv or Sea Tea for a few posts now. Must mean its time to talk 'prov for a bit. Things are slowing down a little bit for the holiday season, so there isn't some super unique or exciting show I can detail for you all just yet. I thought I would talk about warm-ups.

Sunday night, we played a bunch of my favorite warm-up games in a row. Sea Tea can get pretty intense (aka NINJA) about our warmups. We play together so much, we know each other so well and the group mind is good that the games tend to border on frightening for an outside observer (or so we have been told by outside observers). I figured I would do a breakdown of some of my favorite improv warm-ups. Imagine this like a star-studded night of glamour and red-carpets, where improv warm-ups go home clutching poorly constructed awards in different categories. Imagine that, and also keep in mind that any superlative I may add to my distinctions (aka BEST) are purely my opinion and I am sure there are tons of warm-ups out there I have never even heard of.

Best Quick-and-Dirty Energizer: CRAZY EIGHTS
If I need a quick pick me up before a show or class or any improv scene, Crazy Eights is one of my favorites. Its super simple and super fast. You stand in a circle and as a group you shake out each arm and leg, one at a time, while counting down from 8, then you repeat the each limb shakedown counting down from 7, then 6, etc, until for the last round you give out some sort of weird quick limb jerk shouting "ONE ONE ONE ONE!". Do it fast, do it loud. And keep in mind that its always good to make eye contact with everyone else in the circle.
Best Singing Warm-Up: HOTSPOT
Whether or not you are doing any song games or musical improv, Hotspot is a fun one. Its been helpful for me in getting over my "I get nervous singing in front of people". Its a simple one. Stand in a circle, one person stands in the middle and starts singing a song...any song. At any point someone else in the circle can tag the middle person out and starting singing their own song. Anything can be used to inspire the next song, the same artist, the same theme (like kids songs or Christmas carols), similar words or styles, even just a personal gut reaction of "OH! That reminds me of THIS song." I have seen it played different ways, but I personally like it best when everyone else in the circle who knows the lyrics starts singing along as soon as they recognize the song. It makes the whole experience less scary and more groupy. A good way to end/bring the game full circle is to try and bring the whole hot-spot-chain-of-songs back to the original song that started everything.

Best Warm-Up That Sounds Like You Are Summoning Satan: BUNNY BUNNY
Bunny Bunny is a favorite of mine. And it can get really intense. Everyone stands in a circle, slapping their thighs in rhythm while chanting "MmmmBA Mmmm BA". This continues for the entire game, picking up speed if you want to make things more challenging/more demonic. At some point someone will "pass the bunny" by saying "BUNNY BUNNY" while making a hand sign like air quotes to themselves, and then saying "BUNNY BUNNY" again while making the same air quotes sign to the person they are passing the bunny to. It is the responsibility of the two people on either side of whoever has the bunny to turn towards them, and while swaying/hoping from foot to foot and waving their hands in the air say "TIKKI TIKKI TIKKI TIKKI" at the same time/tempo as they are saying their bunnies. You just continue doing this, MmmmmBAing, BUNNY BUNNYing and TIKKI TIKKIing until someone messes up, you decide to move on to something else, or you sumon an underworld god.
Best Warm-Up Overall: EVERYBODY CARRIES EVERYBODY
The last game I want to talk about is an absolute favorite of mine. You need a decent number of people for this. Probably 7 at least to really have fun with it. Also, as a warning, this is a very physical game and you tend to get super touchy and close with the people you are playing with, because the title really says it all. You split up the group into two sides of the room. You take turns carrying people across the room. Everyone has to be carried at least once, no two people can be carried the same way, and you are not allowed to talk. I love watching people get creative in their carry methods, and it helps break down physical barriers to have more active scenes. At Sunday's rehearsal the best "Everybody Carries Everybody" was probably when about half the troupe was lying on the floor side by side and Casey rolled across us like one big carpet. It was amazing.

....I was actually planning on talking about a lot more games, but I didn't realize how many words it would take to describe each one. I'm going to have to end here for now. Happy warming up!

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