I started my Twitter account to drive folks to my site. David Pijor told me what I needed to do on Twitter was get “conversation going.” So #ToTheEtherTuesday and #WordAssociationWednesday were born as conversation starters.
And I like them as improv pattern practice.
Obviously they rely on more on text than emotion and are near-devoid of physicality. And obviously contributors have time to craft their response, as opposed to having to follow in-the-moment in improv.
But – learn rigidly to play loosely! Text-concentrated patterns can get heady; through Twitter we can focus on our head so as to make it a better partner to heart and body when on stage. The extra time for thoughtfulness when playing Twitter games hones in-the-moment thoughtful reactions. Continue reading
Something fun happens in the Cat Pelts organic group game performed by The Coalition‘s Fall 2015 Patterns and Games class.
Four improvisers enter stage together and navigate the chaos by Seeking Symmeteries. And the audience stays with them through the initial uncertainty because they’re comfortable and committed.
A solid show from The Johnsons. They do a To The Ether Opening followed by 4 first beat scenes (though the 4th tends to have a group game quality about it) and then a run of scenes leveraging old material and focused on patterns and games.
Here’s a straight forward To The Ether performed in a workshop. What do you see as the progression? What heightens? What stays the same?
Here’s a video example of a To The Ether around poles done in a workshop. The juxtaposed emotions are our poles and emotional intensity defines the progression.
In this clip, The Johnsons of The Coalition Theater in Richmond, VA use a To The Ether game as their Opening. This one’s short and sweet. Following his fellow players after the suggestion of “Giraffe,” the third player references “toes” in his Cement move, following the giraffe down its body. The fourth move doesn’t follow that progression but follows the language while heightening emotion and physicality. And it’s thankfully funny enough to earn an edit so nothing has to follow it.
OFFER, SET, CEMENT: THAT’S GAME!
Pattern – a sequence that can be repeated / a structure that can be reused
Game – a sequence of actions, related by rules of cause-and-effect, that heightens with repetition
A rocketship, A thumb and An aardvark. That’s a fine pattern. A rocketship, A thumb and An aardvark. A rocketship, A thumb and An aardvark. A rocketship, A thumb and An aardvark. A rocketship, A thumb and An aardvark. Repetition makes the sequence purposeful. And repetition alone is heightening – imagine a room filled with “A rocketship, A thumb and An aardvark” wallpaper.
But in aspiring to elevate pattern work into game play, we focus on two aspects. One, we want a relationship between the nodes of the sequence. And, two, we want a progression of subsequent relationships that heightens the sequence in a concentrated direction.
How do you focus a Ten Person game?
Step right up. Step right up.
I want to ride the roller coaster.
You’re too short to ride this ride.
See the two-headed boy for two dollars.
I’m afraid of clowns.
I ate too much cotton candy.
Where can I buy beer?
I’m on mushrooms.
Don’t miss Smash Mouth at the amphitheater.
Hey, baby, want me to win that whale for you?
We have ten different perspectives. We didn’t build with collective agreement to focus ten players into a One, Two or Three Person scene.
We have ten different perspectives on ten different things. While we’ve expanded the environment of a carnival, we Continue reading
HEY EVERYBODY! START SOMETHING!
“Hey Everybody” initiations can lead to some pretty stilted scenes wherein the initiator forces the role of facilitator. If you’ve seen improvisational performance, you’ve seen these scenes.
“Ladies and gentlemen, [important person] is ready for your questions.”
“I gathered you all here today because…”
“Class! Class, pay attention (to me).”
Players rush out on stage to support the initiation, but Continue reading
To be most effective our patterns must heighten, either in a concentrated progression or through pure repetition. In building a progression, we focus on the relationship of Offer, Set and Cement moves to define how we heighten as a group. The Offer is anything, an initiation. From the Offer’s single point in space on a blank stage, the Set move seeks to define a relationship of heightening. The Cement move seeks to clarify the relationship between the Set and Offer moves through its own relationship with the Set move. If a then B then C. A heightened sequence will pop and evoke an edit (with C) and/or clarify a continued direction (…then D then E…). But what if a then B then z? All is never lost. The only mistake we make in forging a collaborative pattern is not incorporating every contribution. Through repetition we make every move purposeful. Through repetition, if a then B then z then c then D then y.
Attention to the relationship between Offer, Set and Cement moves enables a clear, heightening pattern. While through repetition any sequence can be made into a pattern, the earlier we cement a pattern the easier it will be to heighten and evolve. Without attention to pattern progression, sequences of moves risk becoming a string of randomness that ultimately exhausts and disengages the audience, or a categorically-related but flat run of moves (i.e. apple then strawberry then grape then watermelon then pear…) that ultimately bores and disengages the audience.
If this Weakness is identified, the following posts may prove helpful in coaching to the Opportunity:
* Game Mechanics
* Pattern Into Game Exercises
* The “To The Ether” Game Rubric
* To The Ether Exercises
* The “Help Desk” Game Rubric
* Help Desk Exercises
* The “Hey Everybody” Game Rubric
* Hey Everybody Exercises
* Organic Group Games
* Building Patterns of Emotional Behavior in “Two Person” Scenes