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About Improv Blog and Resources

Catch - in 3 stages

Updated: Sep 4, 2020

Catch is one of our simplest games to play, but it must be played fast! It's a call-and-response game, that involves throwing an imaginary ball, played in gallery-mode on Zoom. It works as an ice-breaker, improv warm-up, energiser, and is also a great way for new groups or beginners to learn each others' names. I like it because it's uplifting, and you have to stay alert. You don't know when it will come to you next. If students aren't alert to start with, they will be by the end.

We have 3 Stages to Catch. For beginners, we may end at Stage 1 (the name learning stage). At Stage 2, we add the emotion of 'love'. (I like this because it's positive and soppy, and helps them get over themselves!) At Stage 3, we switch between emotions.

In class, each student's name is in their own screen/frame (but set to not show in the video recording). Once they know each others' names, it can be fun to change their screen names to daft, made-up ones - and this can be helpful if, by stage 3, they don't feel comfortable with using negative emotions with each other yet. Having said that, it can be a good way to introduce gritty emotions and playing dis-likeable characters, and you gotta keep stretching that comfort zone. It all depends on where the group's at.

Here's how to play. Let's call our example players Sam, Chris, Eddy and Jo.

Stage 1 - Catch

Sam throws the imaginary ball to camera, and calls out Jo's name.

Jo catches the imaginary ball, 'through' the camera, and says 'thanks' before throwing the ball quickly to Eddy. And so on.

Stage 2 - Ball of Love

Similar to Stage 1, but this time with the emotion of 'love'.

Chris throws the ball, and says 'I love you Sam'.

Sam catches the ball, and says 'I love you too, Chris' then throws the ball to the next player, and the cycle continues.

Stage 3 - Emo Ball

Now the players switch emotions, or attitudes.

Throwing the ball, Eddy says ' I hate you Jo.' Jo catches and responds with, 'I hate you too, Eddy'. Jo then changes their emotion and calls, 'I approve of you Sam'. Sam catches the ball, throws and calls, 'I approve of you too, Jo' etc.

Fast = Fun. If it's going too slow, it's because they're going into their heads, and thinking. We want to be spontaneous, in-the-moment, not-thinking, and care-free. So - go fast. Yes, there can be internet lag sometimes, but if everyone's supportive and focused on keeping 'the ball in the air', you can work around glitches - or even include them in the game :)


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