And they were not “Yes, and.” Continue reading
And they were not “Yes, and.” Continue reading
Objective: To responsibly and recklessly endow scene partners (with characteristics, information, activities, etc.) that s/he must accept.
YES, GOOD IMPROVISATION REQUIRES A GROUP. AND, WE AGREE.
A great improvisational performance requires both a group and an audience.
It’s the collaborative building that makes improvisation exciting. The ability to riff is dependent on having something to riff off of. The definition of riffing demands that there be an “accompaniment” or “exchange.” Sure, a single improviser can riff off an audience like a stand-up comedian can. But rarely is there enough audience input to require that a performer relinquish control of the show. To my mind, performers who put up “one person improvised shows” are playing with themselves in front of a crowd – and the inappropriate connotation is intended.
Improv as improv does best requires a group. Two people. Three people. The over-flowing stage of a festival improv jam. You need people to play with. You need people to riff off of.
Creating something out of nothing with a group of people in front of a live audience is hard. There are more people on stage for the audience to watch and listen to. There are more opinions about what’s happening and what needs to happen. More things breed less focus.
The more people you’re playing with, the clearer you have to be. When initiating with the Self-Contained Emotional Statement, the individual serves the scene’s clarity by concentrating on specificity and brevity. When there’s more than the initiator on stage (and there should be), continuing to serve the scene’s clarity relies on Agreement.
Agreement is a cornerstone of improvisation. We’re on stage creating something out of nothing. If I create one thing out of the ether then we have something. We want to build that something up and out; we don’t debate the validity of something made up. Inquisition, opposition, negotiation and transaction are counterproductive on stage to our doing what the audience came to see: Improvisers exploring an invented reality.
Agreement is a cornerstone of improvisation. We’re on stage creating something out of nothing. If I create one thing out of the ether then we have something. We want to build that something up and out; we don’t debate the validity of something made up.
Agreement is the improviser’s mantra: “Yes, And.” It’s not Yes “cereal” And “aliens.” Yes, “This porridge is cold,” And “it’s been sitting on the counter for a week.”
We can’t share one mind, but we can make it look like we do if we’re each making a concerted effort to unify all that’s been laid down in a collective direction. Through agreement we can minimize the amount of “stuff” on stage which facilitates focused collaborative building.
“YES, AND” STORY – Everyone stands in a circle. A player starts a story: “Billy loved his turtle.” Starting with the player to the initiator’s left, the group builds the story sentence by sentence, literally saying “Yes, and…” to begin each contribution: “Yes, and Billy and his turtle did everything together.”
• Collaborate – a group all heightening a few ideas will reach greater heights than will a group of individuals all focused on their own ideas.
• Think back, not forward – the story doesn’t need to get anywhere it just needs to explore where it is. Instead of thinking “What’s next,” think “How can I elaborate on what was just said?”
• Callback as Acceptance – referencing what has already been established can be more than any one player’s hilarious new idea. Make each other look good by embracing each other’s details.
I WANT TO SEE, 1, 2, 3 – Everyone stands in a circle. One player begins with “I want to see…” (“an elephant”/ “world peace”). In no set order, players build on this desire with “Yes, and…” (“Yes, and an Asian elephant”/ “Yes, and people making love not war”). After 3 “Yes, and” additions, a player wipes the slate with a brand new “I want to see…” statement.
• Share the air – Hesitators, contribute! Stage hogs, give someone else a chance!
• Build in one direction – After “Yes, and an Asian elephant,” the group should stay focused on an Asian elephant instead of getting less specific (“Yes, and a big elephant”) or specific in another direction (“Yes, and a carnivorous elephant”).
TWO LINE OFFER AND “YES, AND” SCENES – students form two lines, one on either side of the stage. The player at the head of the stage left line enters stage and makes a statement about who they are, where they are or what else is on stage (“I love being a lumberjack”/“I hate this museum”/“That’s a scary rock”). The player at the head of the stage right line enters and delivers a “Yes, and…” statement (“Yes, and killing trees is awesome”/ “Yes, and the art looks and smells like poop”/ “Yes, and it just moved closer to us”). That’s it. Then the players move to the end of the opposite line.
• Players can drop “yes, and” as long as they still embrace and build on each other’s contributions
• Players can have more than one line each
• Force agreement – “yes, and” keeps us from arguing, denying, negotiating, etc.
• Force choices – there’s no room for questions in “yes, and.” “Yes, and” demands that we add information to the scene.
• Repetition alone is heightening – “Yes, and I am also afraid of that rock” is perfectly acceptable. The agreement should be prioritized over cleverness. “Yes, and” me, too is great collaborative building.