Whiteboard; always whiteboard. Yes, “Whiteboard” is a verb.
Objective:Players entering a scene in progress should always seek to heighten the games already in play. Heightening those games with concentrated pattern mechanics will increase the impact of those tertiary moves.
Embodying the Environment. We can be set pieces. We can be crowds. We can be animals. We can be inanimate. Bottom line, we can flesh out the stage picture as Tertiary Players without adding to the dialogue.
Check out this great example of players assuming the role of what other players were seeing on a screen.
I sat with across from an executive. It was a benign conversation – a check-in meeting. Neither of us was all that engaged.
Looking down at his desk, I noticed he’d arrayed files on his desk in the order of a rainbow – Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple (though Roy G. Biv forever, squad).
I didn’t say anything about it. But thinking about it led me to this exercise.
Looking to practice evoking emotions through engaging environment? The audience loves seeing improvisers “see” something on stage. They love seeing us enthusiastically accept what our fellow players imagine. And they love it when we invest emotionally in those imagined somethings.
Want an exercise that forces us to see something, say something and have that something matter to our scene partner? Keep reading. Continue reading →
The difference between one actor delivering all three of those lines and three improvisers delivering one of those lines apiece is huge in terms of audience reaction. When the audience sees that a player is accepting a choice given to them – as opposed to making their own choice in a vacuum – the audience will reward the attempt above the delivery. Forcing another improviser to own an endowment (aka pimping) can leverage improv as improv does best by emphasizing collaboration and minimizing the pressure on an individual to be clever.
It’s wonderfully counter intuitive. If I “pimp” another player into reciting the poem they just wrote, that other player may feel a lot of pressure to provide a clever/funny response. But, with the audience knowing the situation has been forced on the player, whatever the player commits to will be accepted. Improvisers need to feel that being forced into a corner is not confining, it’s freeing.
And, accepting a bizarre reality is more affecting than creating a bizarre reality.
This warm up exercise will make a team more comfortable forcing a situation on one another and more empowered being forced into an endowment. Continue reading →
Check out this Two Person scene performed by Shaheen Ali and Christopher May. In it the performers weave patterns of emotional behavior to link characters, relationships and environment in a sustainable scene. Enjoy!
An improv stage can be anywhere. On it we can do anything.
You could be in a submarine on Mars raising talking chickens.
Often improvisers are good at labeling the moment.
But you need more than words; you have to be in the world. This exercise focuses on attaching emotions to the scene’s active elements – what can be felt, seen or otherwise experienced on the stage – to foster reactions.
When we fill a blank stage with objects and an environment through committed mime, the world we create becomes that much more engaging, for players and audience members alike. The audience loves to be able to “see” what we create on stage. And if we really look at what we create on stage, we’ll find it easier to generate active endowments that can (and should) affect our play. If we do as too many improvisers do and stand with our hands on our hips at stage center and engage only our mouths we’re putting a lot of undue burden on our words, and we should not aspire to be in-the-moment script writers. Focus out and engage the world being created around you. That’s good advice in improv as in life.
Mime is critical to improv as improv does best. We have a blank stage to fill with objects and environment. We have actions to commit our bodies and attentions to. We have space between and around us that has weight, volume and density. We have all this…if we have mime. Continue reading →