This improv warm-up game helps students think quickly and creatively, listen to their peers, and choose their words with care. It can be done in person in the drama classroom (with physical distancing if necessary), or virtually using an online platform.
- Stopwatch or timer
- Item(s) that students have handy (in their bags or rooms, around the classroom, etc.)
1. Select a student to be the Seller. They will choose one item to sell. This item can be anything they have available to them – a hat they’re wearing, a pencil from their backpack, a teddy bear from their room, the chair they’re sitting on, etc. The item should be shown – it’s not a secret or a guessing game.
2. Select three students to be the Buyers. Decide in what order the Buyers will participate (first, second, third).
3. The job of the Seller is to sell their item to each of the Buyers within two minutes. They should show and describe the item. They can demonstrate how to use it, list its attributes, ask questions, and so on, using descriptive words and actions.
4. The job of the Buyer is to listen to and respond to the Seller’s sales pitch. They must reply to the Seller, but there’s a catch – they cannot use certain words when responding.
- They cannot use the words YES, NO, or the name/direct description of the item.
- For example, if the Seller’s item is a pencil, the Buyer cannot use the word pencil, writing utensil, etc.
- The Seller can still use the banned words and in fact, they can try to trip up the Buyer into saying the banned words.
5. The teacher will set a timer for two minutes. Within the two minutes, the Seller must attempt to sell their item to each of the three Buyers in turn.
6. The teacher and the rest of the class will observe and listen for the banned words. If the first Buyer says one of the banned words, they are out and the Seller moves on to the next Buyer.
7. Once the time is up, choose a new Seller. If the second or third Buyer didn’t get to participate (because the first Buyer used up the full two minutes), they will be the Buyers for the new Seller.
8. Have a brief post-game discussion or have students complete a reflection:
- What was the easiest part of this game? The most challenging? Why?
- How can the Seller angle their sales pitch to try to trip up the Buyer into using the banned words?
- How can the Buyer phrase their responses to avoid using the banned words?
- How can this exercise help you become a better actor?
9. Extra Challenges:
- Choose additional words that the Buyer cannot use. For example, not using the word “I” would be a big challenge!
- Have the Seller try to sell to as many Buyers as possible within the two minutes. Hold a class competition to see who can sell to the most Buyers.
- If you are studying a play or having a class production, have students sell and buy in character.
- Give the Buyers and Sellers each an acting quirk, such as an accent or an ailment (e.g., they can’t stop sneezing or yawning).
Kerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer and stage combatant from London, Ontario, Canada. She blogs at www.kerryhishon.com.Want to find out more about our newest plays, resources and giveaways?
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