The clip embedded below shows the 1A, 2A and 3A scenes from a Harold in succession. It shows how, instead of just following plot through the beats, one character’s emotional behavior – in this case, Matt Newman’s reaction to learning that people close to him are sleeping together – can be heightened through scenarios beyond the initial scene’s. It also shows how the responsibility for initiating subsequent beats is not on Matt, but on his fellow players who’ve been watching from the wings – this helps avoid rehashing the initial scene.
To learn more about the who, what and how behind heightening a scene with subsequent beats, READ THIS.
Watch the Johnsons heighten the mechanics of an emotionally active first beat into a fun found-joke.
Watch as the Johnsons’ pattern recognition skills bring down the house and the lights.
Objective: To focus on strong initiations that heighten established games with new stakes, situations, characters and relationships. Continue reading
Objective: To focus on strong initiations that endow personal and scenic games and leverage those quickly defined games with subsequent beat initiations that heighten characters and relationships. Continue reading
Objective: A scene’s stakes (situational, behavioral and relation-based) can be heightened with more scenes, especially when emotions are heightened, too. Continue reading
Subsequent Beats: The stakes of one scene can be used as inspiration for initiating new scenes.
SUBSEQUENT BEATS – Two players do a scene (edited early by the teacher). These two original players go to the wings. A Player Three initiates a new scene, explicitly soliciting the participation of Player One, Player Two, Both Players One and Two, or Neither Players One nor Two.
• Put the onus on initiating subsequent beats on those standing on the wings – the players in the original scene need to be focused on the scene in play; those on the wings have the time to think up an initiation. When players from the originating scene initiate their own subsequent beats, it is too likely that they will over-prioritize plot or simply repeat what they did originally.
• Use NAMES – it’s easier to solicit the participation of Player One if you can say, “Hey, Jack…”
• Elevate the situation – Spies stealing secrets? Have mountaintop-sitting, spiritual gurus stealing life’s secrets. Have Moses steal the Commandments.
• Elevate character’s defining behaviors – Player One is an enthusiastic baseball commentator; Have him do color commentary at his accountant day job; Have him narrate as he video tapes his son’s birthday
• Elevate themes – In lifting the reactions from the originating scene’s players and situation, we give those reactions wider applicability and telegraph to our fellow players that we are heightening the theme represented in those reactions. (A sailor’s wife awaiting her husband’s return would have a great scene with a dog awaiting his master’s return from the store).
• Mapping – Lay the dynamic structure of one genre over the particulars of another genre to heighten thematic and narrative depths. Two male improvisers talk about cars or sports while really talking about women and/or sex. Play the emotional dynamic of a young man asking a father for his daughter’s hand over the particulars of a teenager asking his dad for the car keys – “Boy, what are your intentions with my sedan?”