1.1 – The Self Contained Emotional Statement


How do you start an improv scene? My answer was forged from the perspective of giants’ shoulders.

Mick Napier, of The Annoyance Theater, says we start with just one thing.

– Assume a posture.
– Grab an object.
– Start a motion.
– Engage your environment.
– Embody a character.
– Emote.

What do you do with that one thing? Expand, says Napier. Discover through “if this
than what” extrapolation. Build that one thing out, or draw a line to another point of the

The direction I believe you should expand to – the scene start structure most conducive to
good improvisation – is the Self-Contained Emotional Statement.

It can be as simple as:

– I love it here.
– I hate the arts.
– I’m uncomfortable.

The Self-Contained Emotional Statement aligns you with an emotional perspective. It’s a solid foundation on which to build the possibilities. Continue reading

SWOT #4 – Self Contained Emotional Statements

When your initiation is all about you – your perspective toward where you are, who you are and/or what you’re doing – you establish a solid foundation for your character to move forward from while keeping the door open for many potential paths forward, confidently capitalizing on the improv “magic” of “making it up as you go along.”    If instead you dictate the scene to your scene partner(s) – defining their role, their perspective and/or reason for being on stage – you risk putting all the onus for the scene on your idea and pushing the audience in a position of critique rather than of awe.  Saddled with your idea, your scene partner may be hesitant to make a bold move of his/her own, restricting their creativity and hampering the scene’s growth potential.

Self Contained Initations

If this Weakness is identified, the following posts may prove helpful in coaching to the Opportunity:
* The Self Contained Emotional Statement
* SCES Exercises
* Mick Napier sez, “Take Care of Yourself”
* Mirror, Action, Object
* Prioritizing Character Over Plot