I Love You

  • classic
  • performance game
  • training game
  • 2-4 players
  • Usually 1 minute.
  • 12+
  • difficulty 3.5

Description: Situation or characters given. During the scene the words, “I love you” must be spoken.

Resource: A clear space

Time-out: Clarify location/place, activity and characters.To maximise the improvisation challenge play the scene without time out.

Example of a title: At the lost dogs home; Last day of school; In the operating theatre; Visiting Nana;
On the fridge shelf; Under the bridge; At the mosquito convention.

Aim: To action an objective and make a truthful emotional and status transition.

Skills required: Ability to play a truthful scene, listen and react to another player’s objective, ability to risk and be vulnerable, remain open to change, ability to stay in the moment and dare not to think ahead, make an emotional and status transition and advance the scene.It is important to establish a clear scene location and action an activity in that place. Listening and yielding to, over accepting and being changed by the other player is the main to skill to muster. Fielding- knowing when to come on and when to stay off.

Suggested Preparation: Yes and...,One-Word-At-A-Time, Simple mimed ‘scene starts’ to create a location and an activity that starts a scene. Slow Motion Abuse Hurling [See page 339] changed to Slow Motion Compliment Dabbing. Here the slow motion silent messages are sweeteners and compliments that are sent to warm, amuse, charm, melt and affect the receiver. As yielding to, over accepting and being changed by the other player is the main to skill to muster, the physical slow motion and size of the ‘Compliments dabbing’ will force the offer maker to give the ‘love’ and the receiver to react as the ‘compliments’ land on and affect them. Truth. [See page 351.]

How It works: A short scene is played in which one character says, “I love you”
The receiving player/character deals with the news, reacts thereby advancing the scene to its next stage or conclusion.

In this exercise/game, acting and improvisation inform each other head on. The exercise has as much to teach us about acting as does, "Death In A Minute [See Death In Minute page 354].

One of the most helpful acting lessons an actor can have is the challenge of playing and achieving a scene objective. An objective is something to do or want. Wanting to say, “I love you” remains the challenge throughout the scene. How will they say it? Where? Why? Under what circumstances? The young actor is forced to invent an inner life and a need. He/she may be digging a hole, lighting a fire, doing dishes. Regardless of his physical activity the objective must be achieved.

The other character could be his/her boss whose objective is to ensure player A keep working, to chastise player A for being lazy, to fire player A. Regardless, player A must achieve his/her objective and say, 'I love you.'

One of the most powerful character developments involving a status and emotional change is the transition that occurs when one character is confronted with the admission of another’s love. They must react and then take the plot line forward. This is an important event and must be dealt with. They can be pleased and thrilled by the news revealing a change, or they can be shocked, mortified and unhappy with the news. Either cn be powerful. Both should take the story forward.

There are no set ways to play the game. The given circumstances are fun to consider and play with. These come from the title. Where are characters? Who are they? What are they doing?What is their relationship? Are they siblings, strangers, neighbours, work mates?

Scenes can be as innocent as Nana telling her budgie, “I Love You” or siblings or friends making up after an argument. “I Love you” said to an Inanimate object, pet or friend results in a perfectly sweet, warm and often humorous scene.

The words can appear via text message, on the bill board, said by the customer gushing over the salesgirl when she produces the coat at the correct size and price. All these and many others are worthy ideas for scenes.

But nothing beats the unexpected, confessed announcement, “I love you” in the least likely place said by the least likely character to the most unsuspecting recipient. Imagine a truthful 'I love you" as two doctors operate, the delivery boy confesses to the supervisor, the gaoler to the person on death row and so on. The possibilities are endless.


Establishing a private scene arising from unexpected circumstances creates dramatic tension, high stakes and is thrilling to play and watch.

Achieving the objective at the end of the scene is satisfying if the build to the confession is truthful, dramatic, filled with suspense and good humour.

Reaching the Objective Early and Dealing with the consequences.

Achieving the objective early makes for thrilling improvisation possibilities as the players/characters use the remaining time to deal with the repercussions of "I love you.'
If ‘I love you’ is said in the first 20 seconds of the scene, there are 40 seconds remaining to improvise the repercussions. New information about the characters and their relationship can take the scene forward as next stage of the narrative is developed.

The receiver reacts however they wish. They can like it or loathe it. They can mock the other player and exit the scene, leaving the poor unrequited lovelorn player to finish the scene in emotional agony. Or they can be thrilled by the idea and fill the rest of the scene with new action as the new lovers prepare to run away together, steal money to survive, kill the no longer required spouse......anything is possible. The remaining time forces them to action the next part of the story.

Encourage fledgling players to action their objective. Training within the one minute time frame is a good way to commence.
Call the times
Sidecoach; ‘Halfway’,
Sidecoach; 'Play the objective'
Sidecoach; 'Say it'
Sidecoach; ‘Ten seconds’


Slowly dim the lights over the time frame of one minute. At 50 seconds the light fades. At 60 seconds the lights are out. If the words were not said the players have failed to achieve their objective. Players must work to beat the fading lights.

Encourage players to play the objective and say the line. Finish the scene at 60 seconds. Have the words been said? Were they rushed and brushed over or valued and dealt with?

Set the scene; two characters on the station platform, the train is about to leave and A must admit/confess to B,
“I love you.”

Two characters, a sick dog and their master/mistress in the vetinery surgery before the dog is put down.

The tension is palpable and a truthful reaction is heaven to watch. How is the admission received?
The surprise, shock, discomfort of the receiver is the next offer in the scene.


The words 'I love you" are not necessarily the final words of the scene. Encourage players to keep the scene going until they conclude the scene. Can they do this within the 60 second deadline?

Introducing the other players.

What to do with the other players is a good question. Do they stay off or come on? Other players in the scene can; play inanimate objects, stay off, come on and play other characters within the developing narrative or simply play background characters during the scene until they are requited. The possibilities are endless; passersby, a player in the love triangle (the other spouse), the wronged other partner, the relieved other partner, a parent, friend, workmate, stranger, eavesdropper. There are endless choices. Their role is listen, stay off until required, or exit when no longer required or stay in the the scene and provide the punch line. There are many possibilities.

Set up a variety of scenes set in a work place or a location where other characters are ‘extras’ in the background. The shelf stacker in the supermarket, the background shopper, the quiet reader in the library, the lady knitting in the other seat in the train. If these characters remain listening and supporting the focus, not pulling focus to themselves, they may be able to provide a handy punch line if required, or save a drying narrative.


Do not overload the scene with too many offers or players.


Truthful scenes and truthful reactions do not have to be somber and dramatic.
Truth can be wacky, wild and funny. The deeper the truth the more powerful and believable the scene.

I Love You is a good choice of game when previous scenes have been physical, robust and hilarious. An ‘I love you’ scene will balance the tone and emotional range of the improvisation and bring variety to any performance.