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? Continue reading
Attract, Don’t Fight: Will your scene partner not agree to your awesome idea? Don’t fight him on it. Show him why what you want is superior. This not only disengages argument but it also engages active scene elements.
You want your older brother to build a sandcastle with you. He doesn’t want to. Have so much fun building a sand castle on your own that he has to come engage with what you want.
You want your life partner to come to home. She doesn’t want to. That’s okay. You’re having so much fun at home that you don’t need her. She’ll come home.
ATTRACT, DON’T FIGHT – Prepare contrasting pairs of personal desires (“I want quiet”/ “I want to blast this song”; “Wake up”/ “Let me sleep”; “Being healthy is awesome”/ “Cigarettes make me cool”). Instruct players to initiate fully believing in their given desire. Build tension, sure. But the first player to disengage the argument by engaging what they want by themselves with positive emotion wins. And the exercise’s focus is understanding how “attracting” with emotional engagement into active scene elements progresses the scene more successfully than argument and/or negotiation.
• Positives progress; Negatives stagnant – Remember that agreement fosters collaborative building. If your fellow player doesn’t want to play your game, that’s fine; have fun without him. The fun will move the scene forward. Disagreeing roots the scene in static emotion. Dynamic characters breed dynamic scenes.
• More than one character can be dynamic – “Build a sand castle with me”/ “Let me read my book”/ “Okay, I’ll have fun building a sand castle alone”/ “Great. I’ll enjoy engaging this book solo”/ “Let me read a line” / “Let me build a spire”/ “Come back and build with me”/ “How could you leave this book? It’s awesome.” That’s fun.