Today I’m going to share two of my favorite improv warm up games to play with my circus students. These games may take a couple trys to get solidified, but once they catch on, it’s a lot of fun!
1. The first game is called, “Zoom, Schwartz, Perfigliano.” Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: “how do I even pronounce those words?!” Let me help out a bit. Zoom is easy. Boom done. Next is “schwartz”. It’s like a German word but it’s gibberish. “Shh-warts” is how you’d pronounce it. Perfigliano is last, and it’s like an Italian gibberish word. “Purr-fig-lee-ah-no” is how you’d pronounce it.
Here’s how the game works:
You get in a circle with your students and explain the game. When someone starts the first round, they must say “zoom!” while pointing to anyone they choose in the circle. This sends the energy to that person who now has a choice, to either say “Schwartz” or “Perfigliano”. Number one rule, you CANNOT zoom a zoom. If someone says zoom, there must be at least one “Schwartz” or “Perfigliano” before saying another zoom.
If someone gets zoomed, they could choose to say Schwartz. This basically means that it goes back to that person. It’s like saying, “ditto”. Now the person who just said zoom has to go again. They can say any of the three commands, it doesn’t have to be a zoom since the round has already started with one. They could “Schwartz” the person who said “Schwartz” to them, which means that it goes back to the person who said “Schwartz”...a ping pong match almost. Or, one can say “Perfigliano”. This command goes to either the person on your immediate left or right side. You must turn and make eye contact with that person while saying “Perfigliano”. Now that person has 3 choices, either saying Schwartz, zoom, or Perfigliano.
This game is a lot of fun when you get a hang of it and this is the first level of the game. There are many many more commands that can be added into the mix, but for now let’s stick to the basics.
2. The second game is called, “Mind Meld”. This is a very difficult game to play but it’s also very rewarding when done right. It also helps teach students to always stay in the moment and to stay on the same wavelength. It’s a simple explanation and yet it’s difficult. Here’s how to play:
First, get the students in a circle. The object of this game is to be on the exact same wavelength, and be practically telepathic. Two people who are next to each other will start the game by looking at each other and counting to three. After three, they say the first word that comes to mind out loud. Example: ball, sky. Depending on the direction of the circle, the person who said one of those words will have to think what the next person beside them will say.
The object is to figure out what one word makes sense when you mix the two words said (ball and sky). Maybe you think of the word “blue” and so now you hope that’s what the other person will think too and so you turn to them, both count to three and say the word you’re now thinking of that relates to the last two words. If you both say the same word, then you won the round.
But let’s say you said “blue” and they said something else like “air”. Now you’ve got “blue air” to work with. That person who said air now has to quickly think what a related word would be and hopefully that’s what the person next to them will say too. This game will go on and on around the circle until two people count to three and finally say the exact same word they were thinking of.
These games are very helpful with warming up your students for a day of training and it also can teach important skills that can be used while in the circus arena or on stage or even in life. Have fun with these games, play them amongst your clown alleys and learn something new. Remember, we as clowns embrace mistakes! If someone makes a mistake, embrace it and move on.