Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Hoopla teacher Rory Vieyra share his favourite warmup games.

Here are Hoopla teacher Rory Vieyra's favourite improv warm-up games and what the help with. 

Everyone stands in a circle and someone says something. It can be a movie quote, song lyric or something from real life. The next person in the circle observes the person saying the quote and then mimics exactly what they saw to the next person in circle. Over time it will change and get weird. They key is to copy the person next to you and not anyone previous.

Good for being silly, listening and getting physical.

Mind Meld
The goal is for two people to say things together until they reach the same word. It begins by one person saying "one," the second person saying "two," and then both people counting to three together. They then say anything at all - a person, place, idea, concept, phrase: anything. Then we think what the thing between those two things or associated with those two things would be. We repeat the one, two, three and try to use the two previously stated things to arrive at a third, common one. You free associate together, attempting to reach the same word, then everyone shouts Mind Meld and does a dance.

Good for forming a group mind, listening and building on others ideas.

Two Penises
Is a fun game where everyone in a circle starts chants 'Two Penises, two penises, what would you do with 2 penises?' The first person says 'The first one i would XYZ.' then the next person tries to rhyme with the final bit of the previous statement with the second penis 'The second one I would XYZ.'

E.G. 'The first one I would throw in the fire, The second one I would give to a liar.'

Then everyone chants 'Two Penises, two penises, what would you do with 2 penises?' together before repeating the game with the next people until you get bored or everyone has had a turn.

It's good for being silly, listening to the other person and embracing the failure.

8 Things
Can be done in pairs or as a group. Someone jumps into the circle and then someone on the outside says '8 Types of X.' It can be anything Dogs, Cheese, space pirates it doesn't matter. Then the person in the centre lists 8 things in the category while the people on the outside count them off.

Good for getting your mind in the zone, positivity and support

I'm a whisk
The players stand on the stage/around the room. Player A goes to the middle, strikes a pose and says who or what they represent. For example, he lifts his arms over his head and says 'I am a tree.' A second player arrives, adds to the picture, and also says who or what he is. A third player enters the scene and completes the suggestions from A and B.

Now that the scene is finished, player A leaves the stage taking one of the other players with them. The other player stays on the stage and repeats their sentence (without changing their pose) As a result he offers a suggestion for a new scene.

This exercise can take place with any number of players.

Good for physicality, supporting and Yes And-ing


Rory regularly teaches at hoopla as well as performing.  You can see him in improv action in Music Box.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Hoopla teacher Rhiannon Vivian’s Top 5 Tips for Beginners & warm up games.

Rhiannon Vivian’s Top 5 Tips for Beginners

So I think the best advice has to come from your own experience. Despite having done improv for ten years now, I still remember my first class as clear as day. With that in mind, here’s my top 5 tips for beginners:

1.    Don’t worry about what other people think of you. I remember going to class thinking people would think I wasn’t well versed in things, good enough at accents, didn’t stand up straight enough, good enough in general…The list goes on. First of all, you’re awesome for just showing up! Second of all, everyone else will be so preoccupied with themselves that no offence, they probably won’t notice any of the stuff you’ll be worrying about - real or imagined!
2.    Be as present as possible. Don’t plan what you’re going to say or try and second guess the game or what your teammate might say. You won’t be able to. And that’s part of the joy. It’s one of the few times in your life you’re actively asked to be underprepared. Celebrate that freedom! 
3.    Be kind and open and listen. Listen to what people say in scenes. Not just a bit, but right to the end of their sentences. That’s often where the gold is.
4.    You might be nervous. That’s cool. Imagine your nerves as a big wave you’re gonna ride. Don’t try and get rid of them or get cross with yourself for having them. They’re totally normal. It’s just a question of getting used to that tidal wave of mild, brief (or maybe in some cases strong) feeling of nausea. Imagine your nausea as a regular, normal if slightly annoying next-door neighbour, that you say good morning to. Normalise it!
5.    Make the other person look good. Give people gifts. If your teammate loves sci-fi maybe drop some into a scene. If they love doing accents maybe endow them with one and watch them light up with joy. Make them look epic and you’ll look epic in the process. Use your intuition and try to avoid deliberately wrong-footing people or endowing them with something you know they’ll hate. For example, I can’t think of a single female improviser who is glad to be endowed with being a prostitute. Just so y’know. Maybe don’t go there ;) 

Rhiannon Vivian’s Top 5 Warm-up Games

I love surreal stuff, wordy stuff and character games. They can really get you out of your sensible brain which is what we want:

1.    What’s on your stupid T-shirt. I love this warm up because it’s so daft and so simple. There’s a chant of ‘what’s on your stupid T-shirt,’ then in a circle, players endow someone next to them by describing what’s on their imaginary T-shirt. The player who owns that T-shirt then has to caption it. Simple as! Puns are fun, but the best ones are the bonkers ones that make no sense at all.
2.    Character dial-up. Taking a small character quirk and line of dialogue and passing it across the circle, each time cranking up the affectations by 1%. By the end, when you’ve got 4 or 5 going, it looks like an absolute nonsense mess and is extremely funny.
3.    Mind Meld. I love words and this is a simple game where you say a word at the same time as someone else. Then all the players have to do is try and find a word in the middle of those two words, that encompasses both and say it at the same time as another player. Mind Meld!
4.    Not gonna lie, the best time to make up new improv games is after a few beers. If they still stand up in the morning, they’re going to get released into the improv universe. I made up a game with Lloydie from the Maydays that is a verbal version of Dutch Clapping (the cool clapping game where if you both put your hands in the same direction you celebrate with a high ten). You’re In The Army Now is just that, but with words! You’ve got four options: Left Tennant, Down Tennant, Up Tennant and Right Tennant. Just say them at each other at the same time. If you accidentally say the same one at the same time, then you celebrate by shouting ‘You’re in the Army Now!’ Easy! I implore everyone to make up at least one new improv game during their lifetime. 

5.    This one is from Chicago. Thanks Chicago! Ever wanted to make a remix machine out of humans? Yeah you do! Using clapping at the same time, different sets of words that would suit a rap or dance track (yeah! Woo! Alright!) are said by players in a circle simultaneously. Reverse the circle by double clapping. Soon enough you get a very limited but super cool human remix machine!

Rhiannon regularly teaches for Hoopla and is part of The Maydays, Dreamweaver Quartet, Bumper Blyton & Newsical who all perform on the Hoopla stage at The Miller.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Hoopla Teacher Susan Harrison shares her improv story.

What got you into improv in the first place?
I originally trained as an Actor and the improvisation part of our training was the best 10 weeks of my three years at Drama School. Maybe not for everyone in the year, but certainly for me! So I'd always loved improvising but had no idea that the Improv scene existed or that Improv was an art form in its own right. Some time after leaving drama school I was doing a course in "Improvisation for the Solo performer" run by Improv hip hop legend Rob Broderick. At that time I was doing it to help me improve my audience interaction, for the purposes of doing character comedy at stand up nights. But while doing that course, Rob recommended Monkeytoast Improv classes, all of which I took and I've been obsessed ever since. I was thrilled to accidentally discover that there was a thriving improv scene right here in the UK, under my nose and that there was so much variety within it.

What makes a good improviser?
Someone who listens and is interested in other people. It's not about being the quickest, the loudest or the funniest. Kind people make good improvisers. Dickheads need not apply! Great improvisers tend to be open, playful, responsive and un-controlling.

What’s your favourite exercise and why?
I'm a fan of the game "I'm a Whisk" because it's a lighthearted, low pressure way of freeing up the locks on your brain. It encourages you to support each other, to make offers and also to make connections and associations but not in intellectual, stressful way. Also it's funny.

Who are your favourite improv acts?
There are so many brilliant players that I enjoy watching. Specific Individuals like Alex Fradera, Amy Cooke-Hodgson, Heather Urquhart (to name but a few) are all rather dreamy to watch and play with! In terms of improv Acts, again there are loads, but I particularly enjoy Breaking and Entering, The RH Experience and Abandoman. Oh and can I say The Pioneers?! They're a team I coach so I am 100% biased...but they are genuinely excellent. They support each other so well and continue to make me laugh no matter how often I watch them. As for international groups I really rate TJ and Dave, The Sufferettes and Parallelogramophonograph, all of whom have their own unique style and improv "voice". Also, when I was in Canada with Showstoppers this year I had the pleasure of watching Adam and Rob (Adam Cawley and Rob Norman) who are another great improv duo. Their character work is committed and fun, they embody the space really well and the night I saw them they improvised such a joyful plot twist that the audience audibly gasped! It's great to see acts from outside the UK, otherwise you can get too stuck in the idea that there's only one way of doing things.

What does improv training help you with in the real world?
Everything! It helps you to listen, to connect with people and to know how to be chatty when it seems as if all chat has gone. It helps you to relax, to take a break from the stresses of life, to have fun, to worry less about yourself and to care about other people, even if, at first, that's only for the duration of a scene.

What advice would you give to people wanting to get into improv?
Do it! Book a course and see what happens. You do not have to be clever or funny. I repeat, you do not have to be clever or funny. Give it a go! You won't regret it.

Susan teaches the Beginners and Performance courses as well as Character workshops.

If you would like to see her perform check out Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, BEINGS, The Actor's Nightmare and her solo show Susan Harrison Is A Bit Weepy