Freeze is the most popular improv game. If you have a friend who only knows one improv game, Freeze is the one they know. I like to think of it as the improviser’s playground. A chance to do a bunch of short scenes and include things like inside jokes, character gifts and callbacks. But for some Freeze is intimidating. It brings up pressures of initiating and trying to be funny.  It’s more scenic than many of our lower stakes short-form games. So I like to ease my students into loving Freeze with a few stepping stones.

Heavily Coached Group Freeze
After warming up with a game like Sculptures I like to lead a group game of Freeze. Two people will start with a suggestion of something they are lifting together. When their positions in the scene change we all clap and say, “freeze.” Then together we think of a new scene or activity that they could be doing based on the new pose they are in. A new player tags one of them out and starts that scene. This takes pressure off of the players to come up with the new scenes. The group does it together.

Blind Freeze
Players take turns not watching the scene (being the “blind” player). Two players start a scene inspired by a suggestion of something they are building together. When they change their position the group calls, “freeze” and the blind player turns to see what position the two are in, tags one of them out, assumes the tagged-out player’s position, and starts a new scene inspired by the position. Blind Freeze makes it impossible to plan ahead or wait for the “perfect moment.”

Gift Freeze
Instead of the group calling out “freeze,” anyone can call it out, and then say another player’s name. The player they named will tag out one of the scene players, assume their position, and start a new scene based on the position. This encourages the group to watch for interesting poses, get a feel for the timing of calling out “freeze,” and give each other turns or “gifts.”

Traditional Freeze
In traditional freeze two players start a scene inspired by a suggestion of an action. At any time another player says, “freeze.” The first two freeze right where they are. The player who called freeze tags one of them out, assumes their exact position, and starts a new scene inspired by the position. Please remember to have each other’s backs. Don’t leave anyone stranded in a scene longer than they want to be. Don’t wait for the perfect moment to say, “freeze.” You already know you can do this blind, so don’t be afraid to take risks. If you see an interesting pose, take it. Even if you’re not sure what you’re going to do. You’re not alone. Your scene partner has your back. If a group is still hesitant at calling “freeze,” give them the option of playing Gift Freeze or Traditional Freeze. If they say, “freeze,” they can call another player’s name, giving it to them OR take it themselves.

There are many more varieties of Freeze. I love it when a class creates their own version. No matter how you play it, it’ll always be the improviser’s playground.