This exercise helps with the “YES” convention in improvisation – the scene partner has no choice but to be the person he’s supposed to be. The actor entering gets to work on the “moment of recognition.”
Game Type: Improvisation
Age Range: 10+
Number of Participants: 2
Materials: A Bench
Explanation: In this game, one person decides the character for both participants. The other participant has to react to her scene partner while simultaneously trying to determine her character.
How to Play:
One participant sits on a bench. The setting is a park, and the person on the bench has no character until the second participant enters.
The second participant has decided who she is, and who the person sitting on the park bench is. For example, the person entering could decide, “The person on the bench is a famous author, and I am a great fan of their work.”
In this situation, the actor would recognize the person on the bench, react to seeing their favorite author in person, ask for an autograph, and tell the author about which books she likes best.
The actor on the bench, meanwhile, has to adapt to the situation, developing their character bit by bit.
The improvisation ends when one actor exits, hopefully after everyone figures out who they are.
With younger or less experienced actors, the leader may want to supply the person entering with characters, so that there is no worry about clear characters.
Here’s a few suggestions for characters, there are several options for “the story” behind the characters:
- The person on the bench is a former HIGH SCHOOL CRUSH of the person entering.
- The person on the bench is the CLERGYPERSON who presided over the person entering’s wedding, bar/bat mitzvah, or baptism.
- The person on the bench is the BULLY who terrorized the person entering back in ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.
- The person on the bench is the HERO who saved the person entering’s life in childhood.
If you think participants will need some inspiration, collect some images of people on park benches that might trigger an idea for characters. Have the actors who are entering take a look at the pictures before they make decisions about characters.