Personal Engagement: If you were all by yourself on stage, how would you feel about who you are, where you are and/or what you’re doing? Finding an emotion and an active scene element to feel that emotion toward can be the continued catalyst for a successful scene.
If I say, “I love cats,” I’m just emoting. If I say, “I love this cat,” I’m emotionally reacting. If we make the object of our emotion active in the scene – actually tangible/ observable/ repeatable on stage – then we have something to react to instead of just talk about.
What is it specifically that we’re feeling about who we are, where we are and/or what we’re doing? What is it specifically that we’re feeling about who our scene partners are, where they are and/or what they’re doing? If we make a decision to connect our feeling to a tangible/observable/repeatable anything on stage, we can progress the scene by heightening our feeling and that “anything.”
PERSONAL ENDOWMENT CIRCLE – One by one around a circle, each player engages an emotion and makes explicit what it is that is evoking that emotion.
• I love this cat
• I hate pulling weeds
• Des Moines, you’re impressive
• I’m proud of my shoes
• I’m afraid of my face
• I’m sad I have no friends
• Specificity breeds details – when you know what you’re feeling and what you’re feeling about, then our creative minds have a clear direction to explore.
• Active elements keep us physically active – it’s much harder to sit still when you love this cats than to sit in a chair and talk about loving cats.
• Don’t wait to be joined before making a choice – We don’t need anyone else. You’re never alone on stage, even if you’re the only improviser not on the wings; you have a world to explore and to react to.
Remember what you like; Repeat: We have to listen and retain so we can return to and heighten established information. Memory is a muscle to exercise. But the exercise can be fun – focus on what makes you laugh, what engages you.
STORY STEALING – Everyone in a circle. One at a time, players enter the center and tell a true, personal, 30 Second Story. Once everyone has told a story, the teacher tells the class that players now have to enter the center and recreate someone else’s story. Every story should be revisited once by another player.
• Don’t mock; mirror – this is not about making fun of each other, it’s about making each other look good by remembering their story
• Remember specifically – remembering a few specific details will be more powerful than remembering everything generally
• Remember reactions – our emotional reactions are improv gold; focus on those when setting other player’s stories to memory
• See what’s not shown – recreating what our fellow players initially did subconsciously is great fun. How do they stand? How do they move? What do they sound like?
SCENE STEALING – Two players do a scene. Two different players redo the scene, repeating and heightening details, characters, stakes, and emotion.
• We remember the good stuff – they’ll drop questions, carry over specifics, and remember good stuff, point that out.
• The bad stuff becomes good when we repeat it – make each other look good! The first time is “random”; the second time is “purposeful”; the third time is “expected.
• Don’t skimp on the emotion – Player Two might have been simply overwhelmed during the Offer dialogue, but Player Three and Four heighten the emotion of being overwhelmed characters.