Watch the Johnsons heighten the mechanics of an emotionally active first beat into a fun found-joke.
If beauty is defined by symmetries and proportional asymmetries – and it is – then we can craft beautiful trajectories in our scenes through pattern mechanics, employing triggers and caps to link heightening personal and scenic games. A scene that ends where it began – with a reformed character returnng to an old habit. A scene that clover-leafs back to a central point – with characters committed to completing their work yet consistently drawn back to kids playing in a fire hydrant. A scene that roller-coasters between emotional perspectives – with a woman who keeps being derailed in her attempts to be cool by an attractive loose curl in a man’s hair.
Without attention paid to our trajectories we… Overplay the first funny thing – hoping our scene’s edit arrives at the critical moment in the game’s assent. Or… Throw out a series of random contributions – hoping one will hit a funny chord with the audience and that our fellow players reward that moment with an edit. Or… Assume a consistent but non-heightening perspective/desire – hoping for a mercy edit before the audience dies of boredom.
We play with the three core elements of improvisation – The Details, Emotional Reactions and Patterns – in balance. We don’t over-rely on being clever, which works as long as we are clever and fails us the moment we aren’t. We don’t over-play our emotional range with erratic characters that, at best, the audience just can’t follow and, at worst, annoys or drains the audience. We don’t overload on games, finding “the funny” and then riding it to death.
We establish patterns of emotional behavior that define how we interact with our world and our scene partners. And we develop a rhythm between those patterns of emotional behavior. We don’t run from one idea to another desperate to find something the audience will like, or audaciously assaulting the audience with randomness, or caught so far up in your own brilliance that you don’t care what the audience thinks.
We lead by following. We know that if we’re ever lost that we can always go back to something we’ve done before. We embrace improv’s inherent chaos, working to direct the flow without controlling it. We focus on supporting the scene moment by moment, and not pushing the scene to an envisioned end. To ensure our scenes a robust life, we raise them right and trust them to explore their freedom.
If this Weakness is identified, the following posts may help you coach to the Opportunity:
* Trajectory theory
* Trigger and Cap Mechanics
* Situational Stakes
* Behavioral Stakes
* Relationship Stakes
Objective: Bringing characters into group games brings new opportunities for chaos. Simplifying character-based group scenes with emotional agreement, stage picture and sharing focus can help a team confidently navigate the chaos. Continue reading