There are many versions of emotion symphony type improv games. I have found that keeping things positive in recovery can be a beneficial and positive way to get folks into the improv frame of mind.

Players are in teams, and position themselves half sitting and half standing behind them so that everyone can see me, the conductor. Each player will get a topic to rave about. They can choose their own topic or ask for a suggestion (such as chocolate)*. I will conduct them in a symphony. Whenever I point at a player they are to talk about how much they love their subject. They can tell a story about, they can say what they love about it, or if they can’t think of what to say it’s okay to just keep repeating, “I love chocolate, I love chocolate, boy do I love chocolate!” Keep your eye on the conductor because I may have multiple people talk at once, or have to get louder, softer, etc.

Begin the symphony by everyone reminding us what their topic is, but say it like you really love it: “I love chocolate!” “I love summertime” etc.

Next warm up our voices the same way a symphony would warm up their instruments. Make some happy sounds! (they do)

The symphony begins. Everyone gets a chance to tell us how much they love their topic, sometimes all together, sometimes in pairs or rows sometimes on their own as the conductor continues the symphony and brings it to a climactic ending. I usually like to let each player say one last thing about their topic before ending.

After the symphony I like to congratulate everyone on improvising a monologue! They all were able to talk about their topic without over thinking, just saying whatever came to mind. That’s the frame of mind we want to be in when improvising.

Other variations:

Gripes: Instead of things to rave about, everyone gets a topic to complain about. It can feel therapeutic to get out some aggression in a safe space.

Emotional Symphony: Take one topic, and assign everyone a different emotion to feel. For example, if the topic is pencils one player is afraid of pencils, another player loves them, another player is jealous of pencils, etc.

*When taking a suggestion of something to rave about, it’s okay if you don’t actually love the topic in real life. You can play a character who loves something that you don’t. It helps build empathy, and if we weren’t willing to play characters who have different points of view, we would not be able to do satire.