To The Ether Game exercise

The fun of collaborative creation is confidently following wherever it goes. A commitment to making moves in the context of all that precedes them can help a group shape that creation without controlling it, focusing the group’s progression for maximum heightening and impact.

To The Ether games are the simplest in terms of pattern components but are the most varied in terms of their final form. Drilling To The Ether games with post-game analysis of the progression of moves will help students build pattern muscle memory.

TO THE ETHER GAMES – Have Player One take stage and make a Self Contained Emotional Statement. Have Player Two come out and change one thing about Player One’s SCES. Have Player Three give a Self Contained Emotional Statement that, in relating to the 2nd Self Contained Emotional Statement, heightens the progression between the first two Self Contained Emotional Statements.

Evolution of the pattern –
• 1st move = Offer (anything is an offer)
• 2nd move = Sets the pattern (of the myriad directions available after the offer the set move begins to define a single trajectory)
• 3rd move = Cements the pattern (clarifies the pattern in a direction that can be repeated and heightened.
E.g. Orange (1); Apple (2); Kiwi (3)
E.g. Orange, Peel (1); Melon, Rind (2); Apple, Skin (3)

Lessons:
• The Offer is anything. The Set move seeks to establish a relationship with the Offer move. The Cement move seeks to heighten the relationship between the Set and Offer moves through its own relationship with the Set move. The progression of Offer, Set and Cement moves define the rules to the relationship between nodes in the sequence.
Trust simplicity – stick the same language; don’t allow personally-clever A-to-E connections ground the group in confusion
Serve the groupyou don’t have to be funny for the group to be hilarious; be willing to set the pattern for another to spike; the 2nd move will never be as funny as the 1st or 3rd but it is necessary to facilitate the big payoff.
The sooner a pattern is cemented, the sooner everyone can play – when players feel compelled to continue a pattern you know it has been established with a clear progression.
Don’t forget emotion – if nothing else heighten emotion/character; that can earn you an edit even if all else fails to cohere.
• Categories – related contributions that do not heighten/progress; can be reordered without consequence (“Coke/Kleenex/Band-aid” vs. “Kleenex/Band-aid/Coke”). A run of categories typically necessitates a “resetting” pattern pass
Poles – when two extremes are juxtaposed (hot/cold; love/hate) it can be difficult to find a contribution to continue the progression; upon hearing “poles” players should seek to set up another poled pair to establish a progression across pairs
Resetting – when a pattern’s trajectory has reached an apex, players should think to start a second related pattern so that the game is heightening iterations of patterns. Example 1 – Womb/World/Heaven; Testies/Sweat sock/Hell. Example 2 – “I hate school”…“I hate prison”; “My teachers…”…“My guards…”
Rule of 3s is not mandatory – while the rule of 3’s does facilitate funny, you don’t need factors of three; patterns don’t have to be played all the way down the line before they are edited
Pattern Ending Edits – ideally a pattern heightens to a beautiful point and earns an edit; not-ideally a player makes a move at the expense of the pattern and fails to earn an edit leaving a dead scene; but there are moves that can successfully earn an edit while disrupting the progression –

  • Contextual Alignment – when it becomes clear what the whole pattern to that point has been about
    • “My nose ring hurts,” “My ink hurts,” “My brand hurts,” “My fixed-speed bike hurts.”
  • Throwing a Pattern on Its Head – if the pattern is heightened in a clear progression subverting that progression can be funny
    • “I love it,” “I love it,” “I love it,” “I loathe it”

VIDEO EXAMPLES OF “TO THE ETHER” GAMES –

Johnsons’ Opening – Date for the Dance

Johnsons’ Opening – Giraffe

IAIDB – I Wish

IAIDB – Everything Sucks

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  1. Pingback: SWOT #11 – Pattern Progression | Improv As Improv Does Best

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