Improv Game AS the Class Meeting

With Labor Day on Monday (my scheduled day for my class's improvisational theatre workshop), we didn't have a chance to get to improv this week.  Well...my students just weren't having it.

After hints, demands, and outright begging from some, I decided to combine my weekly Friday class meeting with an improv game I love: Portkey. Of course, the kids loved the name because it was a reference to Harry Potter.  In the series, a portkey is an entranced everyday object that transports folks to another place.  In class, it's a perfect way to share memories and connect with one another.
Here's how it goes--
I start by asking for an everyday object.  Since I apparently have a deep love for throwing things, I have a kid get our class stuffed animal, think of an object (say, "Ice Cream Truck"), and throw the word and stuffy to me.  I then tell the class a TRUE story about me, starting with "Ice Cream Truck brings me to... "By the end of my story, I find a new word (hopefully an object) to throw to someone else.  They start with, "________ brings me to..."
In a small class, I make sure everyone is thrown to...and they just have to think of something when they're thrown a word.  Yesterday, we had about 1/3 of the kids share stories.  When each person finds a new word at the end of their story, I say, "Who has something for _______ (donut or car or house or...)?"

We had a limited amount of time for our class meeting, but in twenty minutes we shared genuine laughs and some difficult, personal stories.  Afterward, we took a few minutes to process the value of the game.  Deanna said, "I got to know some of you better.  It was a nice way to share our time."  Leon told us he thought it was a great way to get ideas for writing memoirs.  Jimi simply explained, "It's nice to just laugh together sometimes."  When asked which skills were involved, three other kids then spontaneously made connections to the value of Principles of Improv.

I can't think of a better way to end class on a Friday afternoon.


*I first played Portkey with Rich Cox in his Improv for Educators workshop (co-designed and taught with Josephine Mong), and later with Lisa Rowland in her Foundation 2 class I TA'd.  Both classes were offered at BATS Improv in San Francisco.  Rich got the game from Matt Smith at a workshop in Seattle. I'm certain they got the game from someone else.  Yep--we like sharing!

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