Freeze, Thank You bold choice exercise

FREEZE, THANK YOU – Two players assume frozen positions on stage. From the wings, another player says, “Freeze,” confidently enters, taps a player on the shoulder to indicate that they should go to the wings, and assumes a new frozen position in relation to the remaining player.
Lessons:
Confidence sells – Don’t worry about making “sense” with your stage picture. Whatever you do confidently appears purposeful.
Acceptance is the easiest choice – Mirroring is a great default. Whatever Player One does, if Player Two also does it, too, it appears purposeful.
Take inspiration from others – Mirror exactly what they do. OR, complementary mirror what they do (she’s banging a drum; I’ll air guitar). OR, contrast – without opposing – what they do (he’s stretching; I’ll make myself small).

Yes And exercises

Agreement is a cornerstone of improvisation. We’re on stage creating something out of nothing. If I create one thing out of the ether then we have something. We want to build that something up and out; we don’t debate the validity of something made up.

Agreement is the improviser’s mantra: “Yes, And.” It’s not Yes “cereal” And “aliens.” Yes, “This porridge is cold,” And “it’s been sitting on the counter for a week.”

We can’t share one mind, but we can make it look like we do if we’re each making a concerted effort to unify all that’s been laid down in a collective direction. Through agreement we can minimize the amount of “stuff” on stage which facilitates focused collaborative building.

“YES, AND” STORY – Everyone stands in a circle. A player starts a story: “Billy loved his turtle.” Starting with the player to the initiator’s left, the group builds the story sentence by sentence, literally saying “Yes, and…” to begin each contribution: “Yes, and Billy and his turtle did everything together.”
Lessons:
Collaborate – a group all heightening a few ideas will reach greater heights than will a group of individuals all focused on their own ideas.
Think back, not forward – the story doesn’t need to get anywhere it just needs to explore where it is. Instead of thinking “What’s next,” think “How can I elaborate on what was just said?”
Callback as Acceptance – referencing what has already been established can be more than any one player’s hilarious new idea. Make each other look good by embracing each other’s details.

I WANT TO SEE, 1, 2, 3 – Everyone stands in a circle. One player begins with “I want to see…” (“an elephant”/ “world peace”). In no set order, players build on this desire with “Yes, and…” (“Yes, and an Asian elephant”/ “Yes, and people making love not war”). After 3 “Yes, and” additions, a player wipes the slate with a brand new “I want to see…” statement.
Lessons:
Share the air – Hesitators, contribute! Stage hogs, give someone else a chance!
Build in one direction – After “Yes, and an Asian elephant,” the group should stay focused on an Asian elephant instead of getting less specific (“Yes, and a big elephant”) or specific in another direction (“Yes, and a carnivorous elephant”).

TWO LINE OFFER AND “YES, AND” SCENES – students form two lines, one on either side of the stage. The player at the head of the stage left line enters stage and makes a statement about who they are, where they are or what else is on stage (“I love being a lumberjack”/“I hate this museum”/“That’s a scary rock”). The player at the head of the stage right line enters and delivers a “Yes, and…” statement (“Yes, and killing trees is awesome”/ “Yes, and the art looks and smells like poop”/ “Yes, and it just moved closer to us”). That’s it. Then the players move to the end of the opposite line.
Variations:
• Players can drop “yes, and” as long as they still embrace and build on each other’s contributions
• Players can have more than one line each
Lessons:
Force agreement – “yes, and” keeps us from arguing, denying, negotiating, etc.
Force choices – there’s no room for questions in “yes, and.” “Yes, and” demands that we add information to the scene.
Repetition alone is heightening – “Yes, and I am also afraid of that rock” is perfectly acceptable. The agreement should be prioritized over cleverness. “Yes, and” me, too is great collaborative building.

Conversation Party channeling self exercise

CONVERSATION PARTY – Players stand on stage in multiple groups of two or three people. Players are “at a party” as themselves, speaking as themselves to other who are also themselves. The teacher conducts focus from one conversation to the next.
Lessons:
Be specific – You don’t have to try so hard to be funny. You just have to be specific. The surprise inherent to improvisation is made even more satisfying when we’re specific in-the-moment.
React – The audience reaction of “I would have said that,” or “I know a woman who would have said that,” is such a satisfying response for any performance medium. In improvisation, that power is compounded as the audience knows that your reaction was “your” reaction in-the-moment.
Connect – don’t just sit in your head waiting for your next turn to speak, listen to what’s going on around you, let it seep in and affect you.
Juxtapose – we don’t have to discuss our differences or negotiate out one “truth.” A party group who loves cats standing next to a group that loves dogs doesn’t need to engage in a fight. The audience sees both groups and wants both heightened next to each other.

Active Endowment exercises

Active Endowments: If I say, “I love cats,” I’m just emoting. If I say, “I love this cat,” I’m emotionally reacting. If we make the object of our emotion active in the scene – actually tangible/observable/repeatable on stage – then we have something to react to instead of just talk about.

What is it specifically that we’re feeling about who we are, where we are and/or what we’re doing? What is it specifically that we’re feeling about who our scene partners are, where they are and/or what they’re doing? If we make a decision to connect our feeling to a tangible/observable/repeatable anything on stage, we can progress the scene by heightening our feeling and that “anything.”

Suggested Exercises:

PERSONAL ENDOWMENT CIRCLE – One by one around a circle, each player engages an emotion and makes explicit what it is that is evoking that emotion.
Example:
• I love this cat
• I hate pulling weeds
• Des Moines, you’re impressive
• I’m proud of my shoes
• I’m afraid of my face
• I’m sad I have no friends
Lessons:
Specificity breeds details – when you know what you’re feeling and what you’re feeling about, then our creative minds have a clear direction to explore.
Active elements keep us physically active – it’s much harder to sit still when you love this cats than to sit in a chair and talk about loving cats.
Don’t wait to be joined before making a choice – We don’t need anyone else. You’re never alone on stage, even if you’re the only improviser not on the wings; you have a world to explore and to react to.

SCENIC ENDOWMENT CIRCLE – One by one around a circle, each player turns to the player to their left, engages an emotion and makes explicit what it is about the player to their left’s character that is evoking that emotion.
Example:
• I love your hat
• I hate how smug you are
• You dead-lifted 200 pounds? Impressive.
• I’m proud you’re my son
• I’m afraid of your soul
• I desire your friendship
Lessons:
Give gifts – it’s much more fun to be endowed with information (“Ugh, you got fat”) than to be burdened with requests for information (“What are you doing?”).
Want something? Feel the absence – to avoid head-butting, don’t “demand,” focus on “desire.” You can want something from your scene partner, but you don’t want to become hog-tied fighting for what you want. How does not having what you want right now make you feel?
Give the gift of freedom – if you tell me, “I hate how smug you are,” I don’t have to directly respond to your feeling; I can focus on what I’m smug about (“I’m a golden god”) or I can do anything I want (“I’m tired of this wallpaper”). You don’t want your scene partner to feel constrained to address or discuss your feeling (which is more likely the case with “Stop being smug,” “Why are you so smug?” or “Let’s talk about your smugness.”)
Give the gift of dynamite – If you say, “Your tap dancing makes me so horny,” you better believe I’m going to tap dance.