Tertiary Moves class

Whiteboard; always whiteboard. Yes, “Whiteboard” is a verb.

Objective: Players entering a scene in progress should always seek to heighten the games already in play.  Heightening those games with concentrated pattern mechanics will increase the impact of those tertiary moves.

The following outlines Tertiary and Polish moves with supporting video of me actually teaching a class those moves:

Want to learn more about these moves and/or lead a class based on these moves? Continue reading

High Jobs Tag-out example

Here’s an example of a Tag-out from The Johnsons. Notice how they leverage the Help Desk dynamic, repeating/heightening the sequence of dialogue.

I’d’ve preferred they’d’ve never sat down, instead playing out being high on the job. It’s hard to keep a scene active while sitting down.  Chairs are a privilege, not a right.

The Johnsons are Scott Beckett, Shawn Hambright, John Hilowitz and Jonathan Nelson.

3D.1 – Being Tertiary

Pop quiz, hotshot. When do you add on to a two person scene in progress?
A. When you have a funny idea
B. When the scene needs to be saved
C. When there are holes in the information on stage
D. When you want to get in on the fun
E. When you can heighten the game in play

Think about it. Now realize the question is flawed because its answers are not mutually exclusive.

Here is the proper pop quiz: When do you add on to a two person scene in progress?
A. To serve yourself
B. To serve the show

Hopefully now the answer is more obvious.

Entering a two person scene in progress, you are a tertiary player. The scene’s not about you and you shouldn’t make it about you. Continue reading

SWOT #15 – Tertiary Additions

We enter a scene only to serve what is already in play. We enter to heighten a Personal Game.  We enter to heighten a Scenic Game.  We may help our fellow players by focusing them on one aspect of the scene when they’re juggling too much, but in that effort we are focusing on what is already an aspect of the scene.

We don’t enter with a self-serving funny idea that risks derailing the central players’ progression.  We don’t enter with totally new information that players on stage now have to address and deal with.  We don’t enter just to selfishly get in on the fun because the scene might have been fun precisely because you weren’t in it.  We don’t help players on stage by changing the direction of the scene; if players were struggling with what they have, they aren’t likely to seamlessly adapt to your idea however brilliant.

We wield a slew of tools: Walk-Ons, Cut-Tos, Tag Outs, etc.  Brandishing these tools in service of what’s already in play we recognize that we must also be ready and willing to draw out Walk-Offs, Cut-Backs, Tag Back Ins, etc.  Entering a two person scene in progress, you are a tertiary player. The scene’s not about you and you shouldn’t make it about you.

An improv team should agree to this Tertiary Player Good Faith Mantra: I will only enter a scene in progress to serve what has already been established. And I will react to those who enter my scene in progress on the assumption they seek to heighten what has already been established.

Tertiary Additions

If this Weakness is identified, the following posts may prove helpful in coaching to the Opportunity:
* Being Tertiary
* Tertiary Moves Drill
* Establishing Personal and Scenic Games

Heightening With Tag-Outs exercise

Heightening Through Tag-Outs: A “tag out” allows the audience to see how a character from a previous scene will react to another character/scenario/etc. We want to execute tag-outs in service of heightening the emotional stakes.

TAG OUTS –To perform a tag out, a player enters a scene in progress and literally tags the player that he/she will replace on stage.
Lessons:
• Being a bigger version of Player One; Do what Player One did bigger – always a trusty default (You were excited by snails? I’m going to be really excited by snails).
Keep it Active / Avoid Being a Psychiatrist – we don’t want to rehash the previous scene (“Tell me about your feelings for snails”/ “Remember? In the last scene when you liked snails?”). Initiate with active elements that can affect characters emotionally in the present moment.
Wherever You’re Taken, Trust In You – If Player Three takes Player One’s snail lover to see the animated movie Turbo, Player One is expected to heighten his excitement. Player One can relax in knowing that wherever he’s transported he just needs to trust in his emotional reactions.
Elevate the Details – A player who fears action figures can be terrified of all little versions of things. A player obsessed with her eyebrows can obsess over everything she trims. A tenant complaining to her absentee landlord can also complain to an absentee God.

Tag Out definition

Tag out – a “tag out” allows the audience to see how a character from a previous scene will react to another character/scenario/etc.  To perform a tag out, a player enters a scene in progress and literally tags the player that he/she will replace on stage.  The player tagging in should work to be clear in his/her initiation as to what aspect of the original scene s/he is looking to heighten with a new set of stakes/characters/location/etc.

Remember that this is a Tertiary Move and, as such, the move serves what has already been established.  The new scene is not about the newest character (though s/he should also strive to be a dynamic and interesting character) but about serving the initial player.  Therefore a “tag out” should be followed by either A) a series of tag outs, each serving to heighten the progression of the established character game, or B) a “tag back in,” returning the scene to the original pairing.

Example Tag-out Videos: