Pattern Save Example #2 – Stuffed Animal Hey Everybody

“Do we have to stick the sequence in Hey Everybody games?” students ask. No. Of course not. Play organically. Follow the game where it goes. Don’t ever feel constrained by the pattern.

But. There’s power in the pattern.

Watch the following Hey Everybody game from a Johnsons’ show. It ain’t pretty, but it’s illustrative. Watch as the gang falls away from the sequence of contributions. See what happens. Hang in there until the end where you can see that one Player’s faith in the pattern is all that’s needed to secure a satisfying edit with the audience.

Archaeologist organic group game video

A two person scene grows into a Two Person group game: Archaeologist and Bones. The evolving yet consistent sequence of contributions gives it a Hey Everybody flavor.

From my 2014 District Improv Festival “Boldly Go, Boldly Follow” workshop featuring Coonoor Behal, Pete Bergen, Jamie Bingner, Christine Crocker, John Heiser, Scott Holden, Jeff Hughes, J.J. Jackson, Patricia Kostiuk, Scott Kostiuk, Colleen McKenna, Ellen Reiterman, Sara Rouhi and Kate Symes

1.3 – Game Mechanics

OFFER, SET, CEMENT: THAT’S GAME!

Some definitions:

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.

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1.8 – More Hey Everybody Games

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

SWOT #11 – Pattern Progression

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

Hey Everybody Game exercise

Hey Everybody Games:  The potential for trouble in a “Hey Everybody, get out here” initiation is high. Players may rush out on stage to support the initiation with disparate reactions that then battle for dominance; chaos ensues and awkwardness follows. Or, though players may rush out on stage to support the initiation, they await to take their cues from the initiator who becomes the facilitator in a stiff and slow series of interactions that typically revolves more around thinking than feeling.  Hey Everybody game mechanics allow a group to quickly build a focused direction out of disparate parts.

Suggested Exercises:

HEY EVERYBODY – A player initiates to bring a crowd on stage; “Team, take a knee.”  Players join and players make choices quickly in succession – reacting, agreeing, emoting – to establish the sequence of contribution.  The initiating player restarts the next sequence by heightening through the filter of their initiation.  Players contribute in the order of the initiating sequence, heightening through their personal filter.

Lessons:

  • Don’t wait; react wait and nothing will happen or you’ll be stuck negotiating.  The sooner a player reacts, the sooner they’re taken care of, and there’s one less player to “figure out.”
  • Facilitate, don’t dictate – the game’s facilitator is just another player, who happened to start the scene.  The facilitator can and should find a personal filter and not feel the need to speak any more than anyone else.
  • Play your part – trust that if you continue heightening through your personal filter at your established place in the group’s sequence then an edit will be found.  You may not be “the funny one” this time, but your consistency will allow what is funny to pop.

Variations:

  • For more than contrived scenesany scene where a group needs to focus chaos can be aided by Hey Everybody dynamics.  Have one player initiate a scene with a Self Contained Emotional Statement and have a crowd join that scene quickly, and quickly establishing a sequence of contributions.  Restarting and repeating a sequence of contributions can focus even the most disparate parts.