Reimagine the space – an immersive improv exercise

art gallery

Reimagine the space is a useful improvisation exercise to encourage students to create believable characters on the fly, and to create a sense of imagined space as a group.

 

Send the group out of the room and ask them to return as if the room is a different space – examples of spaces are below. They should return in character, on their own or in pairs/small groups as appropriate. They should stay in character until the end of the exercise but they can be anything that is appropriate to the space, be it staff or customer – or even a suitable inanimate object! Whatever they are though, they should strive to make their character believable and not a caricature.

(While they are out of the room or before the class starts, you may wish to set up furniture to facilitate the exercise so that, for example, diners do not feel compelled to set up their own table and chairs at a restaurant.)

Some groups/settings may benefit from “tannoy announcement” prompts (for example, an announcement that the curtain won’t open at the theatre – how do the audience and performers respond to that?) while others will run naturally on their own.

Ask people to leave the room again when they feel they’re done – but only when it would be appropriate for the character to leave the setting. Encourage more advanced groups to stay in for as long as possible: once the students have used up their initial ideas, they may find greater truth in their performances.

Possible Settings

  • A swimming pool
  • A theatre
  • A museum/art gallery
  • A department store or supermarket
  • A sports’ event
  • A restaurant/cafe
  • At an airport
  • At an audition for drama school

(For very large groups, it might be better to divide the class into two: have one half watching as an audience (spread about the room, not end on) while the other performs then swap groups & settings.)

Extension activities

Recall – divide into pairs or groups of three. One person drops character while the other person/people retain theirs. Create a short scene where the person/people remaining in character recount what happened on their visit to the art gallery/supermarket etc. Encourage students to colour this scene so that it is interesting to watch rather than a simple “and this happened, then this, then that” list: why are they retelling the story and to whom? is the other person interested or not? is the story being retold calmly over a cup of tea or has it been turned into a news report?

Hot-seating – ask for a volunteer for the “hot-seat” and have the rest of the group ask them questions about their character’s actions/emotions/reactions etc within the initial improvisation (and during the Recall exercise if appropriate). The person in the hot-seat should stay in character throughout the question and answering process. Repeat with a new volunteer.

Have you used this game with your class?

  • Did they like it?
  • Did you find it useful?
  • Did you change anything?

We'd love to hear what you think!


 
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