How to Play the Improv Game "Scenes From a Hat"

By Gerri Garrick

Updated September 22, 2017

Improv has become a popular form of entertainment in theaters and comedy clubs, as well as at parties. In addition, teachers often use improv games to help with lessons. The improv game "Scenes from a Hat" is best played by experienced actors, because they will called upon to come up with witty one- or two-liners.

Ask the audience for short scene suggestions before the actors even come on stage to begin the show. The suggestions should be along the lines of "First drafts of famous movie lines" or "Things you can say to a child, but not your spouse." Basically, you're looking for a few lines of dialogue based on scenarios your audience would like to see performed. Write about 10 suggestions on small slips of paper and place them in a hat.

Bring four actors into your performance space and have them stand upstage (the back of the stage) center. As emcee, randomly reach into the hat, retrieve a slip of paper and read the suggestion to the actors and audience. The actors should step downstage one at a time and deliver an interpretation of the suggestion when they get an idea. It is not necessary for every actor to act out every suggestion.

Move on to another suggestion after a few interpretations have been performed. If the first interpretation receives a huge laugh, move on to the next suggestion.

Continue playing the game through approximately 10 suggestions. Always wrap up the game after a big laugh, because you want the audience to remember an incredible performance.


If you are one of the improvisers on stage, you may opt to pull one of your fellow actors into your scene.