Sometimes I see little examples in real life of the improv lessons I’ve learned. For instance:

Don’t talk about the activity you’re doing. It’s boring. – I went by myself to grab something to eat at a Vietnamese restaurant. They seated me next to a couple, close enough so I could hear their conversation. The entire conversation consisted of her making various comments about the food, and him acknowledging the comments. For instance…

Her: Is this spicy?
Him: A little.
*pause for a few minutes*
Her: I’ve never eaten here before. You know what? I imagined the food would look just like this though.
Him: *nodding silently*
*pause for a few minutes*
Her: What’s in this shake? It tastes good.
Him: It’s jackfruit.
*pause for a few minutes*
Her: *laughing* I’m sorry. I shouldn’t laugh. But you just look really funny eating those noodles.
Him: *slurping noodles* No, don’t worry. They’re slippery.
Her: *laughing* I shouldn’t laugh at you. *laughs some more*
Him: *humiliated*

It was ugly. I think it was their first date. I wonder if there will be a second? Anyway, the lesson is this; if two characters in a scene are doing something (climbing a mountain, washing a car, doing dishes, eating in a restaurant), they should talk about something entirely different (their intention to have children, his reliance on his mother, her need for constant attention, the fact that he’s just been fired). Their emotions about the conversation and relationship should be reflected in how they perform the completely unrelated activity.

Anyway, I’m teaching a drop-in workshop on January 28th at the Staircase. We’re going to do exercises leading up to scenes with detailed environments and activities that flavour the relationship, but are unrelated to the discussion. 🙂