I taught the drop in workshop at the Staircase tonight. My topic for tonight was Raising the Stakes, which was intended to teach the class how to heighten all aspects of their scene play based on ideas generated by their scene partners. We had a very decent turnout for the class. There were 13 people in the class tonight, of widely varying skill and experience levels. Some of the people who showed up had been improvising for longer than me. But, I tried to make the class challenging yet flexible so no one was bored. After a brief warmup, these are the exercises we did:
Building a machine
Players line up. The first one starts making a repetitive mechanical action. The second person joins in and adds to the machine. Then a third, etc. Eventually it is one big machine. Dismantle the machine one part at a time.
Players take turns stepping out on stage and verbally describing an environment, using hand gestures as necessary to illustrate the environment. After three players have built an environment, we move on to a new environment.
One player starts a monologue based on a suggestion. Any other player can tap out the first player when they are inspired by something that person says. They jump in and start a new monologue. Continue randomly tapping out players.
Yes Because And
Two players have a conversation. Each successive line recaps what was said, with agreement: “YesÂ ” justification: “BecauseÂ ” and heightening: “AndÂ ”
Repeat the scene as closely as possible without the Yes Because And.
Hot spot v2.0
One player starts a monologue based on a suggestion. Any other player can tap out the first player when they are inspired by something that person says. They jump in and CONTINUE the same monologue. Continue randomly tapping out and adding to the monologue. Experiment with raising and lowering the emotions.
“So What You’re Saying IsÂ
Two person scenes with environment and activity. Each successive line must recap what has just been said in the previous line with the phrase, “So what you’re saying is…” Players should be affected by what’s being said and invest those emotions onto their activity.
Open scenes to incorporate ideas learned in tonight’s workshop.
The most difficult exercises were Yes Because And, and “So what you’re saying is…” I expected people to have trouble with them because they impose a lot of rules, which naturally inhibits creativity. However, I thought it was important to work the listening and heightening muscles. Even though people struggled at times with it, they still had fun, and I made sure to allow some play as well, so it never got too serious. Hot Spot was very easy and free-flowing. Definitely an exercise worth repeating in other workshops.