How to Play the Taxi Cab Improv Game

Personality Swapping Improvisation

Community theatre group rehearse on stage.
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The Taxi Cab improv game can be played with three to six performers. It's a fun icebreaker game for parties or you can use it as a classroom activity for theater, drama, or improv classes. It is suitable for all ages and can be played by children or sharp-witted members of improv groups. No matter what the level, it is fun to watch and fun to perform.

How To Play the Taxi Cab Game

  1. Select one performer as the taxi cab driver and two or more performers as passengers.
  2. Set up one chair for the "taxi-cab driver" and several chairs for the passenger seats.
  3. One performer plays the role of the cab driver. He/she starts the scene by pantomiming driving. Feel free to develop a funny, quirky cab driver character. After a few moments of driving, the performer spots a customer.
  4. The passenger hops into the back of the cab. Now, here's where the game begins. The second performer playing the role of the passenger should have a distinct personality. This should be assigned before the start of the game and known to the other performers.
  5. The gimmick is that the cab driver adopts the personality traits of his customer. When a new performer (a new passenger) enters the scene, the cab driver and the other passengers emulate the new personality/behavior. The passengers explain to the driver where they are going and what they plan to do.
  6. After the passengers have interacted with one another, the cab driver will start to drop off his/her customers. When a passenger is dropped off and exits the scene, everyone switches personality again, until eventually, the cab driver character is alone again and back to the original personality.
  7. A director or teacher may want to use a timer to cue when the next passenger will enter or exit the cab to keep the game flowing. This can be varied. If the performers are on a roll, the director can let it continue longer. If they aren't doing well with a character, the director can cue the next passenger swap to keep the game lively.

Passenger Personalities

The personalities can be prepared in advance by the director or teacher or they can be taken as audience suggestions before the beginning of the game.

  • A secretive British agent.
  • A snobby opera singer.
  • A hyper 4-year-old.
  • A friendly, overly talkative old woman.

For advanced improv groups, each performer may come up with their own passenger personality and not reveal it until they enter the cab. This presents more of a challenge for the others to emulate it.

Another wrinkle is to take audience suggestions during the game. For the best flow, it can be good to assign audience members to call out a passenger personality rather than have several people competing with suggestions.

Dramatic Skills Used in the Taxi Cab Improv Game

This activity develops a performer's emulation ability. How well can the actor mimic the style of another performer? How quickly can an actor change his or her character? What ranges of emotions can the actors express?

Teachers and directors should encourage their cast to try as many new personalities and emotions as possible. Have fun with the game and don't forget to give the cabbie a decent tip.