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

Linked By Patterns

The Johnsons‘ performances account for the majority of this site’s videos. Why? I’m their coach. That means A) I love them, B) their work often reflects Improv As Improv Does Best characteristics and C) theirs are the recordings that are the easiest for me to get.genetics

But I have been a bad coach lately and have missed their recent shows.

BUT this past Saturday, 2/23/19, I saw The Johnsons perform with another Coalition house team, Detective. Detective’s coach is Scott Beckett, a Johnson.

And when they closed the show by all playing together, it was immediately clear they spoke the same language of Patterns & Games. Without hesitation they followed each other into organic group games, weaving in Tertiary Moves with varying entrances and exits. And the results were hilarious. Continue reading

Body Snatcher & Double Body Snatcher tertiary moves

Ask your troupe what they want to work on. A comment by Alan Volmer during a Johnsons rehearsal led to this move being added to the group’s bag of tricks.

THE BODY SNATCHER:  A third player takes over either Player One’s or Player Two’s character. If Player Three chooses to take on Player Two’s character, for example, Player Two then exits.

. Continue reading

Spider Furniture tertiary move example video

I get excited every time Alan Volmer and Jonathan Nelson start a scene together.  They’re able to create rich character with rich worlds expressed through rich reactions on a dime.

This scene begins beautifully, with Alan establishing some physical business and Jonathan establishing a Personal Game for himself.

When Alan references his prediliction for spider furniture (you’re just going to have to watch the clip), the resultant game threatens to take over all that’s been established.  But the strength of Alan and Jonathan’s characters prevails and Townsend and John’s heightening and support of the tertiary game makes this an enjoyable scene to watch from start to finish.

The Johnsons are: John Hilowitz, Jonathan Nelson, Townsend Hart and Alan Volmer.

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

Walk On definition

Walk-ons – we can enter a two player scene in progress as another character, offering a move that contributes to the progression of the game(s) at play. Two high school boys are feeling self conscious in the hallway so Player 3 enters as a mean girl to point out their foibles. Two players are arguing over the value of the movie they just left, so Player 3 enters to agree with one of them and rile the other. If there is one tertiary move an improviser knows, it’s the Walk-on.

Unfortunately, too few improvisers know to Walk Off. You’re a tertiary character; the scene’s not about you. A Walk-on should only be used to heighten/sharpen a game already at play. An entering character must acquiesce to those already on stage and strive not to be the focus of the scene.

Cut To definition

“Cut-to” – when players doing a scene refer to a particular moment (from the past, future, etc.), a player comes onstage and announces “Cut to: that moment” and we see the moment.

A comfortable ensemble can perform the “cut-to” (also called flashbackshow me, etc.) without telegraphing the move by shouting “Cut to.”  As with walk-ons, a “cut to” should be followed by a “cut back.”