Personal Engagement exercise

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.”

Suggested Exercises:

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.
Example:
• 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
Lessons:
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.

Memory exercises

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.

Suggested Exercises:

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.
Lessons:
• 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.
Lessons:
• 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.