A Mixed-Up Plot
Split the participants into groups. Each group must write, on three separate cards, the beginning, middle and end of a story. Encourage the groups to be simple, as the play they will create should be short. They can use the plot of a fairy tale or movie they know well, as long as they can boil it down to a short, simple beginning, middle and end. Once you’ve got each group’s three cards, split them into three separate bowls or hats – one for “beginning” cards, one for “middles” and one for “endings.” Draw one beginning, middle and end and create a play based upon the absurdly random combination.
Short, funny skits are a summer camp staple and great for kids looking for short play ideas. The Ultimate Camp Resource website (ultimatecampresource.com) offers these skit ideas: “The Balloon Orchestra,” in which any number of kids stand onstage with blown-up balloons that they let the air out of in “squeaks” to the rhythm of a popular tune such as “Jingle Bells,” and “The Crying Skit,” in which any number of kids come onstage one by one bawling their eyes out. Finally someone enters and asks why they’re crying. The kids onstage reply, in unison, “Because we don’t have a skit!”
History Gone Wacky
Take a well-known history topic such as The Trojan War. Working quickly, brainstorm a list of characters. Take whatever ideas come up -- even “that guy with the heel problem” for Achilles. Create a simple plot -- beginning, middle and end -- that is connected to the historical event. For the Trojan War, this might be: Beginning – Goddess makes the wind blow once king kills his daughter; Middle – Looks bad for the Greeks until Achilles stops pouting and joins the fight; End – Trojans are whipped and everyone becomes a Greek slave. Humor can be created here by jamming together the plot elements so they happen over a very short time. Costumes made to represent Greek armor and clothing made from modern, everyday items can also add to the humor.
If your performers are seasoned actors, have them let the audience create their skit. Ask the audience for a location (take the simplest or wackiest one), such as a bus stop, restaurant or even Britney Spears’ backyard. Then have the audience give the actors a problem, such as “can’t speak English,” “late for work,” or “thinks he’s being followed by a monster.” You can also ask the audience to give the characters a flaw ("painfully shy" or "hothead," for example), or pinpoint a time of day as well. Then have the actors improvise (make the skit up as they go), using the criteria provided by the audience.