Improv Games for Creativity and Innovation
Creativity lies at the heart of improvisation but it is hard to be creative on your own. Bouncing ideas off other people and creating innovation as part of a team means you can get the best ideas from everyone. This involves being open, being able to agree, accept and build on other people’s ideas. Managing your own ego for the success of the project and celebrating the achievements of your peers. These are admirable and difficult qualities to engender which is why these improv games may help you.
1. Pass and Change an Object
This exercise gives you the chance to be creative and to support the creativity of others. Also extraordinary witnessing the randomness that lives in people’s brains.
- Stand in a circle.
- One person uses their hands to image holding some kind of object. They may not know what it is but it should have a size and shape based on how their hands are positioned.
- They give the imaginary object to the person next to them
- The next person receives the object and says ‘Thank you, a …’ and names the object as they imagine it to be. There is no right answer.
- They then morph the object into another size and shape with their hands and pass it on the the next person who says the same and does the same.
- Try making some objects that are enormous or tiny.
- Try to really feel the texture, or smell the smell of an object.
- Go wild with your imagination of what it could be – ‘Thank you, the bejewelled holy cup of knowledge’
2. Yes and
It is time or the bedrock of all improv games. The tenet of our entire artform. However well we may know this, and however many times it has already been done, it is always a good starting point for a group.
- Get into pairs.
- 1st person suggests an activity starting with the word ‘Let’s’. Eg. ‘Let’s draw a fish’
- 2nd person responds with ‘yes and…’ before adding something to the idea.
- Every subsequent sentence starts with ‘yes and’
- It might go like this…
- ‘Let’s draw a fish’
- ‘Yes and let’s colour it purple’
- ‘Yes and let’s make it psychedelic’
- ‘Yes and then it could come to life’
- ‘Yes and then we could have psychedelic fish and chips’ etc.
- Make sure, however clunky it may feel to start each response with the actual words, Yes and…’
- Try to ensure that the next idea does actually follow on. For example, ‘Let’s draw a fish’, ‘Yes and let’s go to the moon’ are just two separate ideas.
- A deeper understanding of what kind of person you are.
- A tool for idea generation
- The bedrock of improv.
3. Three in a Circle
I always say this is a way or practising ‘Yes and’, it’s very silly and one of my faves if you get time.
- Stand in a circle.
- 1 person steps in and says ‘I am a BLANK’ and names ANYTHING.
- 2 more people add to the original idea by joining them in the circle and naming 2 more ‘things’ that seem obvious to go with the 1st.
- E.g Person 1: I am a cat
- Person 2: I am a mouse
- Person 3: I am a piece of cheese
- Next the originator chooses to keep one of the other ideas to follow, so person 1 says ‘keep the cheese’
- The other 2 people step out and we start again with anyone from the circle jumping in
- e.g Person 3 (repeats): I am a piece of cheese
- Person 4: I am a cracker
- Person 5: I am a fine wine
- The game goes on as above for as long as is fun.
- Try to embody/pretend to be the things
- It’s more helpful to jump in with ‘nothing’ as it helps with the ‘got your back’ mentality.
- If you know everyone is willing to jump in, you feel more empowered to yourself.
- Building on ‘Yes and’
- Creating ideas as a group
3. Creativity Box
It’s time to put yourself on the spot and empty all this things you have in your mind, lay them all out on the floor and then wonder at your own endless imagination
- Stand in a circle
- One person steps forward and opens an imaginary box on the floor.
- They then pull out imaginary objects in quick succession, naming each one
- Eg. ‘It’s a rabbit, it’s a felt hat, oooh a banana, a photo of Gandalf, hen’s teeth, a mystical blue bandana’ etc
- ‘Once their brain is utterly empty of all things, move on to the next person.
- No time for judgement of self criticism, just keep naming stuff
- Really try to see, feel, smell the objects as they are coming out, it will make your life easier
- Give your support to the others when they are doing the exercise.
- Quick thinking
- Lack of self-judgement
- Abundance of ideas.
Not sure you can land this one? Call The Maydays, and we can deliver these games either as part of a CPD accredited Business Improv Workshop, or as a free-standing energiser sequence at a conference or industry event.
We also create and deliver custom improvisation workshops for your business. Here are some of the most popular improv training formats in London, across the UK and internationally.
The Maydays are one of the longest established and renowned improvisation companies in the UK. We deliver comedy improv shows around the world, run regular improv classes in London and Brighton, and regularly deliver custom business improv solutions for organisations. Read how improv at work works here!
We would love to hear about your experiences trying these improv games. To tell us about it, or to find out how we can bring Improv Training to your life and work, get in touch