I Just Noticed You… exercise for active emotions

I sat with across from an executive. It was a benign conversation – a check-in meeting. Neither of us was all that engaged. rainbow folders

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

News Reel… endowment warm-up

newsreel_logo2

USSR 1730…

Vladimir Toma invents a heating device…

“Yah, so, this I call…vodka…”

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

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.

(more…)

SWOT #6 – Committed Mime

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.

Committed Mime

If this Weakness is identified, the following posts may prove helpful in coaching to the Opportunity:
* Mime
* Stage Picture and Environment
* Magic Clay
* Build A Room, and more

Mime

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

Mime exercises

Mime: Weight, volume and tension are the key characteristics of a mimed object that help players and the audience “see” the object. If nothing else, be deliberate – your commitment to engaging the environment will enable the audience to accept any weird ass thing you do.

Suggested Exercises:

INVISIBLE TUG OF WAR – Everybody has a tug of war but the rope is invisible, the rules are that the rope must look real, can’t stretch or be elastic. Have a little miming moment: “Feel the rope” etc. We aren’t playing by actual tug of war rules; the point is to have a scene where we look like we are. We aren’t on opposing teams; we’re all on the same “doesn’t this look like a real tug of war?” team.

 

BUILD A ROOM – With everyone else watching from the audience, a player enters a room through a door (push in?, pull out?, doorknob height?, door weight?), creates one mimed object somewhere in the space, and then leaves through the door. A second player enters, interacts with the first player’s object, creates their own new object, and then leaves. A third player enters, interacts with the first player’s object, interacts with the second player’s object, creates their own new object, and then leaves. Etcetera.
Lessons:
With practice, mime work becomes instinct – So practice. When you’re engaged in an everyday action (brushing teeth, doing dishes, etc.) be conscious of your movements and the objects’ characteristics. Then try to mime those activities without the objects.
Really picture what you’re creating
If something’s not clear to you, don’t avoid it, feel the responsibility to make it clearer for everyone else

 

DO WHAT YOU DO WHERE YOU DO IT – Have a player engage in a mimed activity they are very familiar with in a space imagined based on their actual house/work/etc. Players from the audience get to ask questions that the player has to respond to in mime (“what’s on TV?”/ “what’s in the corner?”/ “Is it dirty or clean?”).
Lessons:
Leveraging your personal life will make being specific easy

 

DO SOMETHING TOGETHER APART – Three people up at a time and silently do an action for a couple minutes: Fix your space ship, save your favorite zoo animal, build an instrument from scratch, etc. The activities are mimed and there should be little to no interaction between the players – like they are in their own world, like a split screen.
Lessons:
As long as you commit, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing – three players can all be doing very different things and those activities won’t be in conflict as long as the players don’t address the conflict. Don’t know how to fix a carburetor? Fake it with commitment and everyone will believe you do.