The Quest Group Game

by Ben Whitehouse.

Angela Dee, a fellow New York improviser, discusses one of her favorite group games The Quest. Although I spent years performing the KROMPF improv form, the quest was really not something we focussed on when we performed group games. I think it’s a type of group game many improvisers don’t have in their repertoire, or even know exists and one they should think of adding.

One thing to note, Angela explains The Quest group game is “pretty plot-driven which a lot of improvisers worry about” being that most of the times in scenes, we want to stay on game and not follow plot. However, in this context we are talking about plotty in the sense of having a narrative, not in the sense of the absence of game. We still want to follow the game of the scene, although those scenes are part of a greater narrative context.

Last year I was lucky enough to be invited to do the Gator 600/performance class at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade. I don’t know how that happened (I think a little birdy said a little something to a certain someone, but he flat-out denies it). It was one of the best classes I’ve ever taken and it changed the way I played. I wish Ryan Karels and Neil Casey would teach more than they do, dammit!

One of the many great things about The Gator (the “Krompf” form as taught by Ryan and Neil) is a group game called The Quest.

How is it that no one knows about this game? It is frigging excellent!

First off, I should say that group games are a complete mystery to me. Basically, I had a crash-course in them with my 301 class and we touched on them in one of the eight 401 sessions I had, but other than that I’ve basically been winging it ever since. Gavin Speiller used to teach a Group Game 501/ASH which I really wanted to do, but it doesn’t seem like he does those anymore and, other than that, it seems like group games are not really a focus at the UCB (might be a good elective for someone to teach… hint, hint). So, when we set out to learn The Quest in the Gator class, I was excited!

The Quest is an improv take on Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey – If you haven’t read it yet I highly recommend his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

It is pretty plot-driven which a lot of improvisers worry about, but when it’s done right it is magic. It is a great game to play when a character needs to do something very important – i.e. save someone, find something, get home, etc. There are 7 steps to the game:

Continue Reading: An improv post – The Quest group game

2 Responses to The Quest Group Game

  1. Todd says:

    Yes, the quest sounds complicated. It seems like a great story teaching tool more than a performance game. To me, plot in improv is akin to scales in jazz in that when I am in a scene it is like the musician playing a jazz piece. The musician uses the scales, but doesn’t put them forward in his mind, instead he focuses on where the song is going, the timing, and the “feel”. As a story-based improviser I like to use games like “The Quest” to drill plot in rehearsal so that when I get on stage, in the middle of a story, I can draw on those ideas unconsciously. The Quest seems perfect for that.

  2. vinny says:

    We took Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” as our inspiration for the Epic Adventure show we’ve been taking to festivals (including last year’s DCM)

    Having little experience in the “game” approach to improv but lots in the “narrative” approach to improv, it’s weird for me to frame one in terms of the other. It feels like we’re talking about the same thing but using a different language. I should spend some time in NYC…