Objective: Collaboratively building something out of nothing on stage requires Confidence and Support. An improviser needs to be able to make bold choices and to stand by those choices. An improviser needs to accept and embrace each other’s choices. Make your fellow player “look good” should be an improviser’s guiding principle. Continue reading
NAME THUMPER – Going around the circle, each person (teacher included) associates their name with an action or adjective – “Punching Patrick,” or “Pouting Patrick.” Go around once more so everyone knows everyone else’s name and action. Then play progresses with an individual doing their name/action and then another person’s name/action; that person then does their name/action and then another person’s name/action; etc. You can introduce them to the starting chant – Everyone pats their thighs. You say, “I’m going to say, What’s the name of the game?”, and you’ll say, “Thumper.” Do it. You say, “I’m going to ask, Why do we do it?”, and you’ll say, “To get warmed up.” Do it. You say, “I’m going to ask, how do we do it?”, and you’ll say, “Fast!” Do it.
Subsequent Beats: The stakes of one scene can be used as inspiration for initiating new scenes.
SUBSEQUENT BEATS – Two players do a scene (edited early by the teacher). These two original players go to the wings. A Player Three initiates a new scene, explicitly soliciting the participation of Player One, Player Two, Both Players One and Two, or Neither Players One nor Two.
• Put the onus on initiating subsequent beats on those standing on the wings – the players in the original scene need to be focused on the scene in play; those on the wings have the time to think up an initiation. When players from the originating scene initiate their own subsequent beats, it is too likely that they will over-prioritize plot or simply repeat what they did originally.
• Use NAMES – it’s easier to solicit the participation of Player One if you can say, “Hey, Jack…”
• Elevate the situation – Spies stealing secrets? Have mountaintop-sitting, spiritual gurus stealing life’s secrets. Have Moses steal the Commandments.
• Elevate character’s defining behaviors – Player One is an enthusiastic baseball commentator; Have him do color commentary at his accountant day job; Have him narrate as he video tapes his son’s birthday
• Elevate themes – In lifting the reactions from the originating scene’s players and situation, we give those reactions wider applicability and telegraph to our fellow players that we are heightening the theme represented in those reactions. (A sailor’s wife awaiting her husband’s return would have a great scene with a dog awaiting his master’s return from the store).
• Mapping – Lay the dynamic structure of one genre over the particulars of another genre to heighten thematic and narrative depths. Two male improvisers talk about cars or sports while really talking about women and/or sex. Play the emotional dynamic of a young man asking a father for his daughter’s hand over the particulars of a teenager asking his dad for the car keys – “Boy, what are your intentions with my sedan?”