Yes And Or

Proposition: if you respond to your scene partner’s offer emotionally, that takes away the need to do Yes And.

Justification: Yes And comes into play because improvisers think about content. But if they respond emotionally, the emotion will carry them and give them the content they need.

Even if the emotion is negative, the fact that it is an emotion will take you somewhere.

The emotion does not require words.

Obviously the best thing is to Yes And with emotion.

And when I say emotion, I do not mean very strong emotion. Too much emotion can crush the moment. What matters is that the emotion be honest.

What do you think?

Posted using Tinydesk blog app

Justification: Yes And comes into play because improvisers think about content. But if they respond emotionally, the emotion will carry them and give them the content they need.

Even if the emotion is negative, the fact that it is an emotion will take you somewhere.

The emotion does not require words.

Obviously the best thing is to Yes And with emotion.

And when I say emotion, I do not mean very strong emotion. Too much emotion can crush the moment. What matters is that the emotion be honest.

What do you think?

Posted using Tinydesk blog app

Advertisements

A Moment In A Scene

At the We Want Information workshop on Monday, we explored moments. A moment in a scene is when you discover a simple game and simply play it for all its worth, regardless of the rest of the scene, surrounding story, sense etc.

An example of this is an episode of Family Guy where at one point Peter Griffin has a long drawn out fight with a man-sized chicken. It has no relation to the rest of the episode, but it goes on and on. At one point it seems to finish, but then it starts again, and carries on for longer than you expect.

In the workshop, the case in point was:
Character 1: How did you find out?
Character 2: through something beginning with a D.

This was an opportunity for Character 1 to make a series of guesses of words that begin with D. Actually the scene could just have continued, but this was more fun.

There are three rules that apply here:

1. You cannot name the game as ‘I Spy’, unless you want the game to end.
2. You play the game EXACTLY the same way each time. For example, you do not vary the formula of words:
Character 1: Dromedary?
Character 2: No.
Each time the answer must be ‘No’. Nor can you vary the the way you say the formula of words. The attempt to be interesting, which we are all prey to overlooks the power of the game.
3. You make the game as simple as possible.

This was funny the more Character 1 just came out with more words that began with D. Particularly when the actor was clear surprised by the word.

At a certain point the game can be ended in some way, once everyone is sufficiently tired of it. You will know.

Posted using Tinydesk blog app

Being yourself

We were using the slips the other day for a longform. My instruction was “Be like you are in real life.”

This is an interesting instruction because it forces you to use what is actually in you that you don’t normally use. Normally we try to hide behind a mask. But when we do that we are limiting what of ourselves appears on the stage.

Think for a minute about what being like yourself would mean.
You can be a character, you can deliberately be yourself. Both are alternatives to falling in to being yourself. Which is the weakest of the three alternatives? Just falling in to being yourself.

The point is that there is so much untapped possibility just in being yourself.

Posted using Tinydesk blog app

The Slips

The We Want Information workshops take place every Monday.

We have been exploring different Impro forms, including Harold, slacker, improvathon, rooms in a building, ten titles and basic shortform.

But most recently we have been trying an experiment. This comes from when I began doing Impro and I noticed that scenes in workshops were often so much better than scenes in shows. Apart from the obvious fact that there was less pressure, which counts for a great deal, what could make the difference? Well, perhaps the fact that in a workshop there is a single theme, generally a single instruction on which you are focused.

This was corroborated by an observation I read on a website, that on a show, the trick was to choose one Impro instruction and follow that. E.g. endow.

So I tried out an experiment I had always had at the back of my mind. I wrote down an instruction for each person, specific to their own needs, on a piece of paper, and gave it to them outside the room where we meet. One instruction was “Change your voice and physicality”.

The effect was liberating. It led to moments of genius.

The following week I arrived with 78 slips, all printed out. We were doing ten or fifteen minute groups of scenes, and for each group of scenes everyone chose a slip at random. Afterwards we revealed what our slips had been.

The slips were a mixture. Some were conventional pieces of impro wisdom, such as “be changed by the other person’s offer” or “move before speaking”. Some were gamey, eg “Be a character from a soap”, “Make your first offer in each scene a block”. And some were random: “Keep looking around for something you have lost”,”Be secretly sad”,”Do nothing at all to help the scene”.

Why did they work?

Partly, I think, because when improvising we cannot carry more than one instruction in our heads. And at a certain level any instruction will do.

Partly because if you forget the instruction, that means you are fully immersed in the scene, which is where you want to be.

And partly because the improviser feels they are obliged to follow the instruction, ie they didn’t invent it for themselves.

By default I don’t give instructions at the start of a workshop. I prefer to leave things open. But this experiment shows that one instruction, even a loopy one like ‘Keep changing which direction you are facing’, can be quite liberating.

Posted using Tinydesk blog app