Carpool – an emotional matching warm-up exercise

Looking for an emotional matching warm-up?  Try Carpool!

If we agree, we can just be; we don’t have to explain or defend.  Have fun just being emotional together, trusting that your commitment to the same emotion is all the context for your relationship that’s needed.

Performers are: David Adams, Guy Chapman, Patrice Deveaux, Micah Head, Alan Hopkinson, Nick Lawton, Megan Lemay, Jillian MacDougall, Tim Magier, Curtis Nunnally Continue reading

Invocation exercise

Mirroring/repeating language, details and rules heightens a group’s work while keeping it cohesive.

INVOCATION – Players stand in a half circle. On the count of three, a “god” appears before them that they will worship in three phases: First, they will describe it physically; “Oh, God, with your fowl beak.” Second, they will address its less tangible qualities; “Oh, God, who tastes like everything.” Third, they will ask it to do unto them; “Oh, God, henpeck my enemies.”
• Be clear about what “it” is – don’t be vague for artsy sake; the sooner everyone knows what “it” is the sooner everyone can dig deep into the details
Unite behind an emotional perspective on “it” – “what we hate about Microsoft” will collaboratively heighten faster than “what we know about Microsoft”
Simplify with mirrored language – switching between phases is clearest when there’s a defining cadence to phase one (“Oh, God”) and a new cadence to phase two (“Sweet, Jesus).
Callback – What does a detail from phase one signify in phase two and can be used for in phase three?
Establish rules of reaction – Y follows X: “…who is never afraid,” “You’re a chicken who’s not chicken;” “…who never stops going,” “You’re a chicken who’ll always win at chicken.”
Establish Siloes – What can be the filter through which your contributions come? I’m the guy who: said, “Eyes as red as flames” so I’ll say, “Heart as black as coal.”
• There are no mistakes – seek to fold in everything; don’t drop things that seem out of place

Performers are Becki Heckman, Ian Johnson, Suzi Makarem, Robert Nickles and Jordan Walker Continue reading

2.2 – More “Two Person Scene” Practical

How do we build our two person scenes after the initiating sequences? Practice.

Let’s review the components of strong two person scene initiations:

1. From the moment you enter the stage, actively engage either your environment or your scene partner with an emotional perspective dialed up to 11.

That is all.

With that, or those, emotional perspective(s) established, we seek to build sustainable scenes through heightening the pattern of the games at play and establishing and heightening the pattern between the games at play.

Ready? Continue reading

SWOT #5 – Emotional Perspective

When we spontaneously emit an emotion toward something imagined on a blank stage, that’s crazy – and the audience loves it.  Society’s path to “maturity” often overlaps with a push to subdue your emotions; the upside is that people like watching other people share their emotions on stage – it’s a cathartic surprise.  A scripted actor’s whole job is to make an audience believe that the emotional reaction they’re rehearsed is real in-the-moment. In improvisation, we have a leg up; we are all experiencing what’s happening for the first time.  And as improvisers we don’t have to understand our motivation to emote; we just have to emote – feel!  If you don’t have feelings, get off the stage.  An improviser without access to their emotions has to be a very “clever” improviser.  Relying on cleverness alone works for very few people, let alone improvisers.  Not engaging your emotions is improvising without one of the core elements of improvisation that can evoke a response from the audience beyond the capabilities of any other performance medium.

Emotional Perspective

If this Weakness is identified, the following posts may prove helpful in coaching to the Opportunity:
* Acting is believing in your emotions
* Emotional Reaction Circle
* Yes, Yes I Am
* Acting vs. Indicating
* Just Act Natural
* Mirror, Action, Object
* Tyler Durdan sez, “How’s that working out for you?”

SWOT #10 – Patterns of Emotional Behavior

The key to sustainable, dynamic two person scenes that are most conducive to improv as improv does best is setting up patterns of emotional behavior.  While in the Facebook age, the world defines their friends by who, what, where and when, we know we know a person when we can say, “That’s how he is.”  It is through how our characters interact with their world – other characters, objects, actions – that the audience comes to know them.  Knowing how our fellow players’ characters will react enables us to play to them, to set them up.  Setting up and leveraging patterns of emotional behavior equips us to establish and evolve expectations to engage and surprise the audience.

Without patterns of emotional behavior, improvisers explain more than they exhibit, they act erratically if they act at all, and they disengage an audience that gives up caring about flat or scatter-shot scenes.

Patterns of Emotional Behavior

If this Weakness is identified, the following posts may prove helpful in coaching to the Opportunity:
* Scene Trajectories
* Establishing Triggers
* Sustainable Scenes
* Behavioral Stakes Exercises
* How, not who, what, when, or where

Emotional Context exercise

Emotional Context: Committed emotion is all the “what” and “why” a scene needs. What’s extra fun is that, when we do have emotion, that emotion can add/change the meaning of our words and heighten the depth of our scenes.

EMOTIONAL NURSERY RHYME – Around a circle, a player recites a common nursery rhyme with an emotional filter. The next player does the same nursery rhyme, further heightening the same emotion or trying on a new emotion. Repeat with different nursery rhymes.
• Song lyrics
• Old salts / sayings
The details gain weight with our emotional perspectives
Acting is emoting – understanding a motivation can be hard and grueling. Committing to an emotion without regard to “sense” is easy and fun.

Emotional Character Development exercise

Emotional Character Development:   We don’t need it “all figured out” the moment we step on stage.  Make one choice and then build other choices on top of that choice.  We can start with emotion and build the details of our character around that.  Or, we can start with a detail and build an emotional character from there.

Suggested Exercises:

CHARACTER WALK – students walk around the space as themselves.  Teacher gives prompts for them to make choices from (see Progression below).  Teacher asks additional questions to flesh out the characters.  Teacher has students reset, returning to walk around the space as themselves again.  And repeat.
•  Have players change elements of their personal walk to see how it affects the way they feel
• Change your rate – speed up, slow down
• Change your size – is your walk big or small?
• Walk with a different body part forward
• Change your spine
• Be an animal
• Walk like someone you know
• Ask the class to try on a different:
–   Emotion
–  Posture/Physicality
–  Desire (I want…)
–  Perspective (I like…, I hate…)
–  Environment
–  Action
• Ask questions to flesh out the character.  Basically “if this, then what”; for example, how do you feel about the action you’re doing, or how does that desire affect your walk?
• Ask students to speak in their character’s voice – calling out students individually to contribute
• Tell students to acknowledge each other’s presence to discover their ‘status’
Don’t let starting a scene be intimidating – all you need to start is one choice
Seek to establish emotion – as emotion will drive our scenes, we don’t want to stop our character development until we establish that emotional perspective.  Character ≠ Emotion.  You can be a lispy hick, but until you make a choice about how that lispy hick feels you’ll be hard pressed to heighten the stakes of a scene.