The situations in these starters should be fairly easy for beginning improvisers to put themselves into. Each character has a motivation, what that person wants in the scene. The actors should decide the “why” behind their desire before they start the scene. This will help them to keep focused during the improvisation.
The specifics of the scenes can either be determined ahead of time, or they could be made up during the improv. If the participants are new to improvisation, give them a few minutes to decide on the specifics – it will make them more comfortable.
Beginners sometimes find a three-person scene easier than a two-person one; you can modify many of these situations by adding another “child,” “student,” or “parent” to the improvisaiton.
For Younger Actors (8-12):
- A child brings a dog (not another actor-imagine it is there) into her house who “followed her home”. The child tries to convince her parent to let her keep the dog.
- Two siblings play a board game. One accuses the other of cheating. An argument ensues.
- A grandparent and grandchild have a talk about what they did during their day. The child expresses a desire to be older, and the grandparent wishes to be younger.
- A teacher tries to teach the multiplication table to a student who only wants to talk about TV shows.
- One friend tries to convince another friend that she has seen a UFO. The friend is disbelieving.
- A child tries to convince a parent to stay home from work and let her stay home from school.
For Older Actors(10+)
- A teacher tells a student that she is going to fail science class. The student tries to convince the teacher that she will improve, and asks her not to put an F on the report card which comes out next week.
- A parent and son/daughter are shopping for school clothes. The parent does not think her child’s attire choices are appropriate for his/her age/weight/personality.
- One friend tries to convince another that he has seen something unbelievable (e.g. a UFO, a zombie invasion, an elephant walking down the street). (Is he lying or not?)
- At a doctor’s office, a child has to get a shot. The child is very frightened and her parent and the doctor try to get compliance. (Variation) The parent is just as scared as the kid.
- Two friends are deciding which clubs/classes to sign up for. One wants to take/join something (e.g. cheerleading, ROTC, Feminist Theory) that the other thinks is an awful choice.
- Two siblings, one popular and one shy, try to convince one another to go/not go to a party.
- A teacher is trying to teach the multiplication table in a one-on-one situation. The student only wants to talk about TV shows.
- Three friends are in a restaurant. They try to order from the menu, but each has some dietary restriction that requires them to change the preparation of each dish. The waiter is new on the job.
- Two friends are on a talk show. Their problem is that one keeps changing her interests and attire to match the other friend. The talk show host is on the imitator’s side.
- Two people are at an amusement park. One wants to ride the newest roller coaster in the park (choose specifics), and the other one is terrified to do so. He/she tries to convince the other not to ride without letting on that he/she is scared.
- One friend talks to another about the new boy/girl she/he is dating. The friend thinks the date is a JERK.
- Babysitter tries to get a child to go to bed. The child will not fall asleep, because he/she is afraid of a monster (pick a kind).
- Four people are going to the movies, but two want to see one movie (choose a type) and the other two want to see a different one (choose something radically different from first).
- A schoolmate tries to convince another to convert to his new religion, which is based on the idea that computers are omnipotent.
- Two strangers are stuck in a room that has a security door. The one is overly concerned with getting out, the other wants to become friends, and so is in no hurry.