We want to avoid conflict, debate and negotiation in our improv scenes. The audience knows we’re making it up – building something from nothing – they don’t want to see us arguing over imagined reality; they want to see us react to an accepted reality.
What’s the best way to avoid arguing? Acceptance! Agreeing to a conflict-laden declaration is the easiest way to ensure a scene’s forward momentum.
So want a warm-up that’ll engage those Acceptance muscles?
Everyone in a circle. The exercise is between two people. There are three phases.
1. Conflict-seeking initiation
2. Agreement to and heightening of what’s been accused
3. Mutual agreement to a shared reality
Player One turns to their left and delivers a stakes-heavy initiation. “You’re the worst party clown.” “I’m sorry my dog bit you.” “I’m going to need to see ID showing you belong to this pool.”
Player Two agrees and heightens the emotional perspective. “Yeah, I’m the worst. Because I’m the most tenured.” “Yeah, you’re sorry; no more mail for you.” “Oh, totally; you doubt that my black family lives in your community.”
Player One accepts Player Two’s agreement and in conjunction with the reaction they both high-five. The “I know, right?!” and the high-five are mandatory.
Player one: “Kids are the worst.” Both: “I know, right?!” High-five.
Player one: “Without mail I won’t know what I could pay for cable.” Both: “I know, right?!” High-five.
Player one: “I live in fear.” Both: “I know, right?!” High-five.
Accuse. Accept. Agree.