Learn More About Improv Acting
Rules! Rules! Rules! Why are there so many rules in life? Eat your veggies, stop kicking your brother, and when it comes to improv always say “yes.” Wait…what??? Actually, that last one I happen to agree with. I repeat: When it comes to improv, always say “yes,” and don’t deny. Better yet, say “yes and…” As with the rule don’t poke a hungry bear with a pointy stick, some rules are there to protect
In improv, saying yes is your friend, your BFF, your soul mate. Why is that? Let’s break it down.
First, we need to acknowledge the elephant in the room: Improv is not real. SHHHHHH! I know, shocking.
If I pick up the remote control in order to operate a time machine and tell Lucy to pass me the batteries…I hate to break it to you, but I don’t have a time machine — time machines don’t exist and…wait for it…there are no batteries lying around on stage for Lucy to pass me. It’s all made up. It’s all fake. I exist, you exist and we all exist in the present day. But what is real and true is our imagination. I can sell you a bill of goods or something that’s not real on stage as long as I do one thing: I must believe.
On stage, you’re a team. And the whole team must be on board. The minute Lucy says, “What batteries? There is no such thing as a time machine and my name’s not Lucy,” the scene dies. Great improv grows one line at a time, back and forth, with no one, single captain steering the ship. And the best way to grow a scene is to water it with YESSES. There can be (and probably should be) a problem.
The batteries can be triple A and we need double A, but as long as you validate your scene partner’s choice, the scene will be gold. The first line out wins is the rule I live by. If my scene partner says that we’re on Mars and I wanted to say that we were at the carwash, I can’t. Now I’m on Mars and the scene continues with us in space suits and inhaling through re-breathers.
Here is the beauty of that rule: It allows scenes to grow and blossom in wonderfully creative directions. If you have the confidence to listen and be present in the moment, your scene can soar. For more rules on improv, check out: http://www.pantheater.com/articles-rules-of-improv-part-i-improv- comedy.html As an acting teacher at Gary Spatz’s The Playground, I use improv in all of my classes. It’s an essential tool for any actor. So clean your room, wear your seatbelt and always say “yes and…” when it comes to improv.