Improv requires actors to contribute strong emotions to a scene instantaneously. I came up with "Here I Have A Hat" to help draw emotions out of reluctant beginners. You can also play this theatre game with children during hospital visits. The idea is to match the emotion given to you as you pass the hat around in a circle. Everyone will express the same emotion in each round, hopefully making shy new players more comfortable.
Tips: This exercise also helps players speak clearly and stick to what they are saying while simultaneously expressing a strong emotion. Children really respond to this game. They pick it up right away and become more comfortable expressing emotions as the game goes along. I've done it in my improv classes with children as young as five years old.
Materials needed: any hat.
Fun Fact: This game is a repurposed English language version of a game that my family played in Spanish at parties when I was growing up in New York!
Playing "Here I Have A Hat":
1. The leader passes the hat to a person next to her in the circle saying “Here I have a hat”. The person responds with “And what is in that hat?” . The leader says “A little bit of this and a little bit of that”.
2. The person now takes the hat and the process is repeated with the next person in the circle, and so on, around the circle. (There should be little [if any] emotion in the first round, just a focus on getting the lines right.)
3. When the leader begins again, she will say the same lines, but with a strong emotion (crying, laughing, singing, angry, frightened, etc.) and the next person must copy that emotion in their own way, but it must be strong.