Featured Activity: String of Pearls

Asking “What does the scene need?” can help you expand your range of performance options, add value to any encounter, and be experienced as helpful. Here’s an activity to help you and your team practice:

String of Pearls Storytelling

Overview:

  • One sentence at a time, participants create a story, adding there sentences in random order, building the story as they go.

Improv Topic:

  • Listening and awareness
  • Yes, and
  • Storytelling
  • Performance

Purpose:

  • Team building
  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Review

Supplies:

  • n/a

Time:

  • 5-6 minutes per round

Number of Players:

  • 7-10 per round

Game Flow:

  • One person steps on stage and offers a sentence that could belong “somewhere near the beginning of a story”
  • The next person stands at the other end of the stage and adds another sentence that they believe belongs “somewhere near the end.”
  • 5-7 more people add sentences to complete the story, standing closer to Person 1 or 2 depending on where they believe their sentence should go.
  • After each sentence the whole story is repeated in order until all the participants are used, and the story is complete

Example:

Sentence #1 – “Joe loved fishing.”

Sentence #2 – “And they never went to the lake again.”

Sentence #3 – (added close to sentence one) “But this time, what he pulled up on the end of his hook wasn’t a fish…”

Sentence #4 – (added in between sentence #1 and sentence #3) “Every day he went down to the lake and caught fish for his dinner.”

Sentence #5 – (added close to sentence #2) “Finally Joe and the mermaid killed the octopus monster!”

So the story at this point would read…

Joe loved fishing. Every day he went down to the lake and caught fish for his dinner. But this time, what he pulled up on the end of his hook wasn’t a fish…. Finally, Joe and the mermaid killed the octopus monster…. And they never went to the lake again.

Subsequent players fill in the remaining gaps.

Variations:

  • Ask the participants to explain a business process.
  • Ask the participants to recount a real-life event they experienced together.
  • Do a couple of rounds telling sentence at a time stories in order first.
  • Use the Story Spine as a template, asking participants to start their sentence with one of those cue phrases.

Tips:

  • Encourage the 2nd person to add a sentence really remote from the 1st. If he is not sure what the connection might be, that’s fine.
  • Remind the participants to repeat the story so far each time a new sentence is added.
  • If participants hesitate, coach them to add one small detail or bit of action. Tell me to figure out what questions they have as audience and then make a choice to answer one of them.

Suggested Debrief Questions:

  • How did that feel?
  • What moments were most satisfying?
  • How did you choose what to add?
  • How does a good sense of what is needed narratively help us?
  • How is this activity like your work tasks?

Source:

Freestyle Repertory Theatre, Theatresports community

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