Improvisation exercise created by Keith Johnstone.

Rules: Two players put on hats of approximately equal dimension, preferably with wide brims, and play a scene. The scene ends when:

  1. a player successfully grabs a hat off their opponent's head (WIN), or
  2. a player grabs for the hat and misses (LOSS).
  • The hat must be grabbed. Knocking the hat off the head counts as a grab and miss.
  • You may protect the hat.
  • Don't talk about the hats.
  • Don't justify why you're grabbing the hat.
  • The audience wants to see the hat game, not the scene. It's fine for the scenes to be a few seconds long.
  • The game is not interesting if the players stay farther than arms length apart. Play close.
  • Johnstone notes that successful players never retreat. They hold their ground or move forward, often tempting their partner to make a hasty grab.
  • Have beginners practice the hat grab slowly, to avoid spastic eye gouges and clouts to the ears.
  • In TheatreSports, often played best out of three. Each hat may win 3 points, or the game may be a toss up challenge.
  • The game is about mindfulness. You must play the improvised scene, yet be intently aware of what's going on.
  • Variation on this mindfulness challenge: Bum Tag. The player who touches the other's behind first wins.
Source: Keith Johnstone, Impro for Storytellers, Routledge/Theatre Arts Books, 1999.

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