Whether or not you are a fan of comic books, you must admit that a lot of imagination goes into those dynamic superhero characters. And anything that involves a wild imagination can become exquisite improvisation material. Since superheroes are capable of doing the impossible, it’s great fun to bring their action-packed antics to the stage. No fancy sets or costumes are required. With the power of pantomime, anything can happen!
Here are three superhero improvisation games to try out with your drama class or comedy troupe:
This activity begins with one actor and a suggestion from the audience. The performer announces, "I am a superhero. What’s my special power?” The audience will hopefully offer a lot of entertaining suggestions. The performer should quickly select the most “workable” suggestion.
The scene begins. The actor establishes his character, setting, and conflict. For example:
X-RAY MAN: Drat! That villainous Velveeta Woman has trapped me within her Velveeta Vault as it slowly fills with bland tasting American cheese. But, I can use my X-Ray vision to see through her walls. Oh, there she is, waving at me. Curse you, Velveeta Woman!Then the actor will introduce the next superhero. Through playful exposition, he will explain the new hero’s name and superpowers. Example:
Note: Feel free to be ever-so-much funnier than the above example.
X-RAY MAN: It looks like I’m done for. Wait! Something is bubbling beneath the cheese. Why, I don’t believe it. It’s none other than Optimist Girl! Able to look on the bright side of any situation. Thank goodness you’re here!And the insanity continues. Each new superhero introduces the next character until five or six players have had a chance to show off their eccentric powers (and perhaps resolve the conflict).
OPTIMIST GIRL: Don’t worry. Everything is going to turn out terrific. Quick, hand me that glass of water – the one that’s half full!
In this improvised scene, five to seven performers sit in a semi-circle. All of the characters are recovering super-villains. They are attending a twelve-step program.
The group leader begins with an introduction, “Hi, I’m __________.”
Everyone responds with a monotone, “Hi, ___________.”
The group leader will explain that he/she has been villainy-free for a certain amount of days. Then, the recovering super-villain discusses his/her destructive past and the ways in which he/she was thwarted by a super-hero. Then, the next wacky villain is introduced. Like the previous improv game, the person can introduce the villain by name and super-power, or that information can be left up to the next performer.
The challenge of this improv scene is that it might be too devoid of conflict. After all, the characters are simply reminiscing about the good old days. Remember, the villain characters can always be tempted back to their bad-guy lifestyle, and the group leader can try to talk them out of it.
Super Senior Home:
The above improv games feature very silly, newly invented superheroes. For “Super Senior Home,” the actors should assume the role of famous, pre-existing comic book characters: Superman, Spiderman, Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin, the Incredible Hulk, etc.
The Gimmick: The superheroes are now in their 80s and 90s. They live together at a home for Super Senior Citizens.
The activity begins with two audience suggestions: A) What’s a common activity for an elderly person? B) Name your favorite superhero.
Embracing those two suggestions, the actor begins the scene as a geriatric superhero. Other elderly comic book characters (and perhaps a nurse or two) enter the scene and participate in the suggested activity.
Don’t forget, the characters should still possess some superpowers, though their super-skills might be a bit rusty.
And now that you know about these improv games, try them out. Visit our Plays / Drama forum and share your thoughts and experiences. In the meantime, UP, UP AND IMPROV AWAY!