Super Hero Game
This is a skit with a very specific structure. Here is how it works:
Player 1 is our "Citizen in Distress." This Player enters and establishes a problem. It could be anything from a bad hair day to the sky falling. The more detail the better! This represents the beginning of the scene.
Player 2 enters and extends the scene. This can be done in many ways, including becoming the "Super Villain" who created the problem, or the "Feeble Citizen" who tries to help but only makes things worse, or someone who shares in the distress that was introduced. The goal is to move the scene forward. Give it some “rising action” (aka the middle!)
Player 3 is the "Super Hero" who enters in with some sort of super power and saves the day by solving the problem.(End scene!)
In the Classroom:
This game was invented as a way to force players to establish a full story, and to give players new to improv the practice of feeling responsible for the story arch.
It is a great format to work with kids on their social flexibility, the fun in this game is accepting fully the solutions that others create. By making it the job of each player to be responsible for each part of the story arch it prevents dominant personalities from taking over the scene.
In the Moment:
In improv classes this game is set up so that each time it is played again, player one is a new player, and the players who just played that player 1 and 2 shift up one, and the player who played the super hero sits out. This way each member of the class gets to play each role.
Encourage them to provide details and to fully accept the solution that the others present. It is everyone's job to make your fellow players look good and the more detail one adds to the scene the easier it is to come up with good ideas!
Just as a side note: It is amazing how often "mom" ends up being the hero!
This is a great way to introduce kids to scene work in improv classes.
It is also great for story development discussions in writing classes. The amazing thing about this game is that it follows the standard "super hero" format, but very few of them have traditional super heroes. This is an interesting starting point to a discussion about genre formats and how stories that one might not see as a mystery, or a hero journey actually follow that format.
I have also seen where teachers used it to explore different genres. This idea included the class working out ways they would have to change the game to fit the different genres. A Mystery Game, for example, would need someone discovering the crime, suspects and a sleuth, A hero journey would require a hero on a quest, someone who helps, a monster to over come, etc. This creates an active way to explore the structure of various genres!