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Theater Games


Pan Theater | Where Neurons Fire Faster

(Pan Theater Awkward Face performers Short Form Theater Games show: Say What)

Theater games provide a method for training actors. Many games also are performance worthy in their own right and are popular performance pieces for improv troupes.

Theater games typically revolve around specific points of concentration. This point of concentration gives the actors a focus and allows them to play rather than "act". The acting becomes more natural and the actors lose the sense of self consciouness that can often take hold of an actor.

Classic theater games include games such as the alphabet game, the number of words game and related games. The actors get a prompt for the scene and often one specific to the game such as a starting letter of the alphabet or a number of words for each player to speak.

As the performers play the game they inhabit the characters and imaginary space where the scene is taking place.

Some theater games are designed not for performance but purely for working on specific acting skills. Other theater games create stage worthy scenes that can entertain an audience.

While theater games more often tend to create comidic scenes it is also possible for the games to create dramatic scenes full of pathos.

Actors trained in a theater games approach tend to have strong imaginations, the ability to jump into a piece, the ability to play on a team and a focus on making their partner look good.

The bible of theater games is Viola Spolin's Improvisation for the Theater. The book includes games discovered, used, refined and invented by Viola and her contemparies.  Viola Spolin's son is the founder of Chicago's world famous Second City Theater. Many of Hollywood and New York's top actors and directors are trained in Viola's theater games approach to acting.

Keith Johnstone developed his own set of theater games and ideas in England at around the same time Viola Spolin was creating her work. Keith Johnstone's work can be found in Improv andImprov for Storytellers.

Theater games are now standard training in most actor training programs in colleges and convervatories.

You can stop by Pan Theater's Intro to Improv class to try theater games, or if you wish to see them on stage you can also attend one of Pan Theater's 8pm Saturday shows.


Pan improv comedy shows for the Bay Area.
Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and 9pm

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