Emotional Decision Making exercises

Emotional Decision Making: If you are to “choose one thing” entering a scene, emotion is always a strong choice.  It doesn’t matter what the choice was if you commit.  And choosing to decide without deference to “sense” can make for fun unique scenes.

Suggested Exercises:

EMOTIONAL CHOICE CIRCLE– Player One makes a decision of what emotion they will use to react to Player Two through.  Then Player Two says anything.  And Player One has the previously decided upon emotional reaction to the anything.  (“I have a dog” / “Fucking Christ!”)
Lessons:
A committed emotion will always trump sense – if you just feel you never have to explain how/why you feel what you do.
Any emotion works – if we try to “understand your motivation” before making a choice about how to feel, you’ll end up in a scene that’s been done a million times before. But, if you make a choice about how to feel before any context is established, then that scene has the potential to be different than any that’s been seen before (“I’m the first Johnson graduating college” / “Ooooh, my god.  I’m so scared”).

 

EMOTIONAL LAY UP LINES – Player One makes a decision of what emotion they will use to react to Player Two through.  Then Player Two enters the stage to engage Player One and Player Two responds through their chosen emotional perspective (“Hi” / “I love you”).  Give the scenes a few lines back and forth.
Lessons:
Repetition is the only justification you need – If emotional offers are not aligned (“It’s so beautiful”/ “I’m so depressed”), don’t waste your time negotiating which feelings are valid; just heighten the juxtaposed feelings (“The colors in this sunset – breath taking” / “So much pollution”; “The deep reds, bright purples…”/ “The black in our lungs”).

 

BLIND SCENES –  Player One starts engaged in the environment (with an action, object, atmosphere, etc.).  Player Two, starting with his back to the stage, has the first line of dialogue.
Lessons:
Commitment is the only justification you need – If players’ initiations don’t align, they don’t have to make sense of why they’re together.  They can just accept and heighten what’s happening.

 

EYE CONTACT SCENES – Players One and Two have to make statements back and forth without breaking eye contact.  For the sake of the exercise, these scenes can consist of two players standing center stage as talking-heads.
Lessons:
Harder to assert when pressured – We tend to want to ask questions or make weak statements when forced up against our scene partners.   We have to be (or at least “seem”) confident even in the face of demanding insecurity.

Two Person Scenes Heightening Emotion exercises

2 Person Scenes Heightening Emotion:   Establish an emotional perspective, heighten the emotional perspective through reaction to active details, and edit – That’s scene.  We want to avoid negotiation, conflict and the tepid, talked-out “discovery” that stagnates scenes’ growth.

Suggested Exercises:

ENDOW AND HEIGHTEN LAY-UPS –  Player One initiates from stage left.  Player Two initiates from stage right.  Both players heighten what they initiate.  After a few lines back and forth, teacher calls “Scene” and two new players start the exercise.
Progression:
Personal / Personal – Player One engages a personal emotional perspective and Player Two engages a personal emotional perspective.
–  Disparate initiations:  Player 1 – (staring forlornly at the Cat’s Cradle he works with his fingers) “sigh.”
   Player 2 – (looking around in panic) “I heard it again.”
–  Complementary initiations:   Player 1 – (staring forlornly at the Cat’s Cradle he works with his fingers) “sigh.” 
Player 2 – (flipping nostalgically through a big book) “Those were innocent times.”
–  Mirrored initiations:  Player 1 – (staring forlornly at the Cat’s Cradle he works with his fingers) “sigh.”
   Player 2 – (playing with a yo-yo sadly) “siiiigggghhh.”
Scenic / Scenic – Player One engages an active aspect of Player Two with an emotional perspective and Player Two engages an active aspect of Player One with an emotional perspective.
–  Player 1 – I want to kill you and steal your life.
  Player 2 – I laugh at your weakness.
• Personal / Scenic – Player One engages a personal emotional perspective and Player 2 engages an active aspect of Player One with an emotional perspective.
–  Player One – (staring forlornly at the Cat’s Cradle he works with his fingers) “sigh.”
Player Two – “Oh, I’ve had it with your attitude, mister.”
Scenic / Personal – Player One engages an active aspect of Player Two with an emotional perspective and Player Two engages a personal emotional perspective.
–  Player 1 – I want to kill you and steal your life.
Player 2 – Oh, hey, my Diamond of the Month Club package arrived!
Lessons:
Don’t give up your thing – heightening our individual choices together is all we need to move the scene forward.  Trying to “figure out” how our things mesh, fighting each other’s thing or dropping our thing in favor of our partner’s thing robs scenes of their potential.
Commitment avoids justification – explaining why two people are on stage often saps the energy from a scene.  When two players commit to simply heightening their choices, no one will question the juxtaposition of even the most mismatched initiations.
Reactionary statements avoid negotiation – when we’re not comfortable with and/or don’t understand what’s happening on stage, we revert to asking questions that often bog down scenes.  Simply making choices moves us forward and making emotional choices helps statements stand without defense (“What do you mean, I’m a pig?” versus “Oh, I’m a pig.  You’re a dirty whore.”)
Heightening avoids conflict – “I want to kill you”/ “I want to kiss you.”  If these are the initiations, we don’t want to debate or argue – heighten the feelings.  You don’t have to address the disparity between feelings right away if ever.  Heighten conflict/tension by heightening your part of it.  Addressing/discussing conflict/tension takes the dynamite out of the scene.
Make Scenic/Personal Initiations less rare – it can be fun for Player Two to choose a personally grounding emotional perspective despite Player One′s attempt to initially engage her in his thing.

 

TWO PERSON SCENES –  Player One initiates from stage left.  Player Two initiates from stage right.  Players heighten what they initiate.  Have players decide BOTH how they feel about “I” and “You” – engaging an active endowment about themselves AND about their scene partner.
Lessons:
Bored? React! – don’t know what to do in a scene?  Have an emotional reaction to an active element.
Lost? Repeat! – I scream.  Why?  I don’t know.  So I keep screaming, heightening the emotion of the scream.  Don’t stop what you’re doing to make “sense” of it; Find “sense” through continuing doing what you’re doing.
Be affected – There’s power in reacting in-the-moment to another player’s perspective/actions/choices.  When we don’t react to a fellow player’s move that deserves a reaction we risk pulling the rug out from under the scene.
Feel first, understand second (if ever) – don’t wait to “understand your motivation” before making a choice about how to feel
Never trapped by your choice – while players should be encouraged to push their heightening before changing course onto a new thing, players should never feel trapped by the things.  “I love my teddy bear.”  I heighten why I love my teddy bear (“He doesn’t judge”) but I don’t have to react only to teddy.  “I really love my fluffy duck.”/ “He doesn’t give a shit.”