Monday, June 12, 2017

The Walk On Labeler

Here's a fun exercise to help teams exercise big moves and restraint at the same time.

Have two people do a scene, have them almost intentionally make the scene everyday life or non-specific. Have them hold back the name, where they are, what they are doing, or where they are working, or why they are there.  Have a walk on come on and label some part of the scene or as many parts of the scene as they want. The only rule for the walk on is that it can't be scene painting. They have to somehow be a part of the scene. Narration is a maybe move.

What should happen is that the two characters on stage should be able to find the restraint not very restraining. They may really relax into a grounded scene about details. This would be great. However, they are expecting the walk on.

The walk on should be looking for opportunities to really add to the scene. Rather than have the walkon change the interaction, it just focuses the interaction. Or maybe it just pulls the camera back a little to see more of what's going on. This walk on strategy forces walk ons not to take focus.

Why is this so important?

Too many times, improvisers come on stage with so little that the scene ends up being grounded with nothing else. I hate the label of grounding because it forces people to not play, to not make moves, to not have fun. If you're ever in a grounded scene, if it's just every day life, then it's not funny. If you watch the best players, they may be grounded but there is something weird going on, or maybe something just happened, or something isn't right. You may see the best improvisers talk about their life and how their family does this or that but when people laugh it's not about the life stuff it's about the weird stuff.

So, you can't depend on slice of life. If you do, you have to actively be okay with nothing happening and no laughs. Deep down, no one is okay with that.

But, if you're on stage and INTENTIONALLY holding back some details so that you DISCOVER your job, your location, your name. Then, you're using the grounded mentality to ACTIVELY find aspects of the character. Or your USING the groundedness to wait for the moment to make a BIG MOVE.

The key in this exercise is to be INTENTIONALLY grounding for effect and then knowing the big move is coming. When put into action, we should all be discovering the big moves or making big moves to discover more moves.

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