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  • Katie Jenaway

What Our Core Improv Workshops Look Like

Have you ever wondered what an Unscripted Project improv workshop actually looks like? Here’s what it looks like for our core program in schools with young people from grades 5-12.

First, students will be greeted by our friendly teaching artists and co-facilitators. Our teachers understand that trying something new can be scary, but one of the great things about improv is that you work with others to create a safety net, so that trying new things doesn’t feel as nerve-wracking. We engage the students as soon as they join the class through playing some of our favorite music, asking questions, and starting a conversation.

One of the great things about improv is that it doesn’t require any special skills - just the ability and willingness to listen and respond.

We start off with a couple of quick warm-up exercises that usually last for two to three minutes a piece. These games are meant for students to think quickly and get in the headspace for practicing improv. These warmups might be physical or verbal warmups, and might be full class or smaller group exercises.

After warm-up, we run through a series of games centering around a specific theme for the week (for example, understanding different points of view through creating characters). These exercises include some scene work (really, make-believe scenarios) with partners, or small groups. The teaching artist will give the students information to start a scene, such as a line, or a location, and will model the scene with the co-facilitator for the students. In scenes, the students can play anyone they want. Some students may prefer to play big, weird characters and some will prefer to play characters more like themselves. Both are encouraged, and there are no wrong choices.

Students build scenes using the core idea of improv, ‘yes, and’. Each student’s choices will be completely different and that’s okay. Improv embraces each student’s unique talents and interests. There is no requirement to be funny. Your choices will do that for you!

Group reflection and discussion focusing on direct applications to students’ lives follow each activity. While some exercises are pretty clearly connected to the world outside of and beyond school (for example, "Gibberish Job Interview" models all of the nonverbal skills and cues in an actual interview), students often make more subtle connections - like how playing a confident character allows them to feel more comfortable and confident in their own skin. There is an optional showcase at the end of our signature program that we may also prepare for. Students may also have the opportunity to perform in front of younger students at their schools or an even larger audience!


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