Exercises for Active Emotions

Don’t be the improver who initiates a scene by running to center stage and delivering a premise.

Don’t be an improviser in a scene where two players stand shoulder-to-shoulder, cheating-out, and talking about something not in-the-moment.

Don’t be a point in the arch of a group game where improvisers stand in a semi-circle and discuss a topic.

See your environment. Endow. And have an emotional stake in the details.

That’s the core of Improv As Improv Does Best.

Continue reading

SWOT #3 – Bold Initiating Choices

When we show make a bold choice the moment we step out on stage, a blank slate is immediately endowed with an active element that provides fuel for a scene to grow.  If we put off making a choice – instead timidly walking out to the center of the stage to meet our scene partner and cautiously negotiate a scene on vague information – the scene is doomed not to go anywhere out of fear of going in the “wrong” direction.  In improv we are collaboratively building something out of nothing; the moment we make a choice we have something to build from, and the earlier in the scene we have that something the better.

Bold Initiating Choices

If this Weakness is identified, the following posts may prove helpful in coaching to the Opportunity:
* Why “What” should not wait for “Why”
* Emotional Character Development
* 5 Round Character Development
* Emotional Initiations
* Hot Spot
* Freeze
* Mirror, Action, Object

SWOT #4 – Self Contained Emotional Statements

When your initiation is all about you – your perspective toward where you are, who you are and/or what you’re doing – you establish a solid foundation for your character to move forward from while keeping the door open for many potential paths forward, confidently capitalizing on the improv “magic” of “making it up as you go along.”    If instead you dictate the scene to your scene partner(s) – defining their role, their perspective and/or reason for being on stage – you risk putting all the onus for the scene on your idea and pushing the audience in a position of critique rather than of awe.  Saddled with your idea, your scene partner may be hesitant to make a bold move of his/her own, restricting their creativity and hampering the scene’s growth potential.

Self Contained Initations

If this Weakness is identified, the following posts may prove helpful in coaching to the Opportunity:
* The Self Contained Emotional Statement
* SCES Exercises
* Mick Napier sez, “Take Care of Yourself”
* Mirror, Action, Object
* Prioritizing Character Over Plot

Emotional Scene exercises

Emotional Scenes: “How we feel about who we are, where we are and what we’re doing,” and “How we feel about who our scene is, where they are and what they’re doing” should be our focus in improv scenes. Let “How we feel” trump all else, especially plot and “sense.”

Suggested Exercises:

“I [FEELING] YOU.” “I KNOW.” – Players form two “lay-up” style lines on either side of the stage. Players at the front of each line decide on an emotion inside their heads. Player from the stage left line comes out and says “I [blank] you” (i.e. “I love you”). Player from the stage right line comes out and says “I know” filtered through the emotion they chose ahead of time (i.e. they chose “sad” so they say “I know” very depressed). Have both player repeat their lines 3 or 4 times, heightening their emotions each time.
• Linguistically “I ____ You” can get a little weird (i.e. “I happy you”), so feel free to change it to make it fit. Like “you make me happy,” actually “You make me _____” will probably fit better for most things.
• Feel a certain way, direct that feeling at the person with you, assume things about your relationship, heighten
• As they go, there’ll be a few that seem really natural. If you see it happen, some cool points to make are “didn’t you start making a story in your head about who they are? Our audience does the same thing, they see all kinds of connections” or “when we talk about relationship this is all it is, how people relate to each other, how they feel about each other.”

ANNOYANCE-STYLE SCENE STARTS – Have the class form a line across the back of the stage. Call out one name. That person should immediately take the stage and “take care of themselves” with a choice about their emotion, posture, environment, activity, etc. The moment you call that name, another improviser should be coming out on stage as well. That person must also “take care of themselves” with a choice. Players expand on their choices, most importantly establishing and heightening their emotional perspective. Run through this several times until you are confident everyone will take care of themselves right out of the gate and, eventually if not immediately, get to emotion.
• If I’m picking my nose, what does that say about my age? If I’m forty-five and picking my nose, where am I? If I’m forty-five and picking my nose in a restaurant, am I embarrassed?
A scene needs information. But expand on what you’ve already got. Commit to it.
You don’t need motivation to have a feeling