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  • Jillian Barron

Four Square: Improv Games From On Stage to Online

With the new era of online improv theatre, it can be tricky translating improv games for the video streaming forum. In this series, learn how to play popular improv games in their original form and how to adapt them for online improv performances and rehearsals.


4 Square Improv Game

GAME: 4 Square (or Rubik's Last Line) (or 4 Corners) (or Rotate)


Set up: 4 players stand in a square formation (two players in front, two players behind) equidistant to each other. These players can rotate to each other's places like the square of a Rubik's cube. Host stands just off to the side.


How to Play: The host will introduce the game and demonstrate to the audience how the players can move by calling out "Rotate!" All players will immediately move clockwise to the next spot in the square. Once the host has returned the players to their starting positions, they will receive a suggestion from the audience as they rotate through each pairing. Each pair will receive a different suggestion.


Example:

Starting pair AB receives suggestion "Animal Crackers"

Rotate

Pair BC receive suggestion "Brothers"

Rotate

Pair CD receive suggestion "Laundromat"

Rotate

Pair DA receive suggestion "Hysterical"

Rotate

Pair AB is back at the front


Once all pairings have their suggestion, the game begins with the first pair. At any point during their scene (and subsequent scenes) the host can call out, "Rotate!" and all players must immediately stop and change positions. When players return to their scenes, they have the choice of picking up the scene where it left off or time-jumping within the context of the original scene. The host rotates through 3-4 times before calling the game.


Advanced: Instead of players only moving clockwise, change the prompt to "Rotate Right" and "Rotate left." Players in the back can either stand with their backs towards the audience (to keep their rights and their lefts straight), or movement can be based off of the front pair's right and left.


Play it Online: This game is particularly tricky when adapting for an online forum because if you are using a video conferencing app like Zoom, Teams, or Skype, the position of each person's video differs from computer screen to computer screen. Rotating right or left through pairs becomes impossible if the players are not visually in the same positions.


One way around that is to give each player a letter or a number "ABCD" "1234." Establish the pairs the same way you would in the stage version (AB, BC, CD, DA). The host can then call out letter or number pairings to rotate through the players and scenes.

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