Objective: If we are creating together we need to ensure we hear each other’s contributions. Focus out to hear. Project out to be heard.
2.0 Warm-Ups: Revisit names, build energy and concentrate energy
21 – The group (without teacher) huddles in a tight circle and together counts to 21 with players contributing one number at a time. If two people speak at once, the group must start over.
• Breathe; Don’t rush to speak; Share focus.
• We are walking backward, making each subsequent step based on the trajectory laid down behind us
• Don’t rush to 21, just build each move on top of the one before it
• Don’t emphasize failure; there are no “mistakes” on stage, only what happens
• The audience only knows you’ve “messed up” if you tell them you have
2.1 Concentration: A lot can get lost on a crowded improv stage. We have to commit to ensuring we HEAR and ARE HEARD – listen and project.
RED BALL, RED BULL, BREAD BOWL – With the group in a circle, a player starts by saying, “Dustin, Red Ball” then mimes throwing to that player who catches it, says “Red Ball, Thank you” then passes it by saying “Lauren, Red Ball.” Then you add more pretend balls/objects and try and keep them all going.
• One version can go “green ball, purple ball, bouncy ball.”
• Another variation focuses on phrases that sound similar (Red ball, Red bull, Bread Bowl, Thread Ball, Party Hat).
• Listen to words closely but also pay attention to more than the words, because the physicalities should all be different here and if you pay attention you don’t miss it.
BIG BOOTY – One person is “Big Booty” everyone else is a number in order from the left of BB all the way around. You start with a chant “Big Booty, Big Booty, Big Booty, UH HUH” Then the passing is “Big Booty/Number 1” “Number 1/Number 5” “Number 5/Big Booty” etc. When someone messes up, they go to the end (highest number) and everyone’s number changes accordingly (number 1 gets out and becomes number 8, number 2 is now number 1, etc.) If someone gets BB out, they become BB and lead the game.
CIRCLE OF SEQUENCES – A player points at another and says any word. That player points at another player and says another word inspired by the first. This continues until every player says a word and points to another player, with the final player to contribute pointing back to the first player to contribute. This is Sequence One; repeat it continuously until the group is comfortable with it. Establish a Sequence Two the same way, and then a Sequence Three. When players are comfortable with each Sequence individually, tell them that they now will be keeping them all going at once. Start with Sequence One and then tap the player starting Sequence Two on the shoulder, then tap the player starting Sequence Three on the shoulder.
• Focus outward – can’t be in your head freaking out; have to be ready and waiting for your turn
• Be sure you’re heard – enunciate, make eye contact, and pointing helps
• Each individual is 100% responsible for the success of the group – if a sequence is dropped, even if you didn’t drop it, pick it up
• Names – Make Sequence One “Your Name” and Sequence Three “Their Name” to add to potential confusion so as to force increased concentration
2.2 Focus Outward: There is a ton of material for us to mine in our improv if we are committed to seeing it, hearing it and embracing it. We don’t need to be in our heads worried about making something happen once we learn how we can follow what’s already happening to a collaborative end.
ACTION PASS – In a circle, a player turns to his left and executes an action, any action. The next player observes that action and attempts to recreate it EXACTLY in turning to the player to their left.
• Do it once through. Then immediately have them do it again focused on slowing down and really noticing all the nuances of a player’s action and working to repeat the action exactly.
• Call out people that are in their head and not focused outward
• Call attention to what makes them laugh – straight repetition, embracing something “accidental”
• Call out when someone tries to force the evolution for a laugh – this will happen after they get comfortable with a few “successes” under their belts
• See head to toe – take the time to really see all that players are giving you; Where are their toes pointed? How are their shoulders’ squared? What face are they making?
• See more than you’re given – the things a player does subconsciously or accidentally should be noticed and repeated; What did they do before and after the action?
• There are no mistakes/There is no “right” – there is only “what has happened” and “what’s happening now.”
• Repetition is heightening – we don’t need to create unrelated information when there is already material at play to mine. Collaborative evolution is a fun enough; don’t force difference for difference’s sake.
PHRASE PASS – Like Action Pass, but with a sentence.
• Focusing on exactly what was given to you
• Pick just one thing (one word, emotion, inflection, character, etc.) and heighten it 2 notches
• Even with small things, we create a feedback loop that will heighten everything we do to places no one could imagine or achieve on their own
• You don’t have to force evolution – if everyone is concentrated on heightening what they see and hear, the phrase will naturally change. We want to continue embracing small changes to foster evolution instead of forcing mutations that separate an individual from the group.
2.3 More than Words: We have to share focus with the group. Being aware of our physical positions in relationship to one another is a critical component of hearing and being heard.
ONE PERSON WALKING – Students spread out through the room. Without talking, one person has to be walking at any given time. Students have to see each other to know when to give and take focus.
• Now two people are walking at a time. Now three. Build to everyone walking and then work back down to one person walking.
• Make eye contact
• Give and take focus
• Be willing to surrender focus to your scene partner
2.4 Memory: We have to listen and retain so we can return to and heighten established information. Memory is a muscle to exercise.
STORY STEALING – Everyone in a circle. One at a time, players enter the center and tell a true, personal, 30 Second Story. Once everyone has told a story, the teacher tells the class that players now have to enter the center and recreate someone else’s story. Every story should be revisited once by another player.
• Don’t mock; mirror – this is not about making fun of each other, it’s about making each other look good by remembering their story
• The more you remember, the more options you have – you might not get the chance to revisit the story you remember best so you need to work to remember everything
• Remember specifically – remembering a few specific details will be more powerful than remembering everything generally
• Remember reactions – our emotional reactions are improv gold; focus on those when setting other player’s stories to memory
• See what’s not shown – recreating what our fellow players initially did subconsciously is great fun. How do they stand? How do they move? What do they sound like?