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[an error occurred while processing this directive] Columns

Improv Thoughts
by Austin Nava

The Truth

Getting directly to the stinky, smelly, beautiful parts of the scene. The opposite of playing coy, the more coy you become, the less interesting things are. Get to the meat, the elephant, the sparkling diamond in the glass case, the parts of people/characters that make them unique and who they are. Deal with those things that are most important to these characters and it's not a bad way to start.

The Specifics

Who - Captain Vague = Captain Suck. There are an infinite number of reasons your neighbor washes the car in the rain. Find out every one. The more realistic the drive, the better. . reasons? time, exhilaration, the challenge of it, to be a rebel.....

What - It's ok to name a car (Sweetyhotstuff or mustang). It's ok to say Arizona instead of pants, Brita Filter instead of pitcher, Easton instead of bat. In fact please do! It's a much happier world to be in.

Where - Know where you are, use the details of that place to show it. In the forest? Lean on or climb a tree, pick some leaves, start a fire, set up a tent, feed some animals.... and if that doesn't work just say it, "Would you look at this forest?".

The Other Stuff

Listen - Make it a constant. If you aren't doing anything, listen with everything. I don't just mean hearing something and letting it pass over you like a quick breeze. I mean listen to every line as if it's the most sacred note of your favorite song. Every line has the possibility of making a world of wonder if it is listened to and applied in the correct way.

Rest - If your girlfriend/boyfriend says they love chocolate and you take them to get it immediately, ok, fine. You have the chocolate, it's good. Later on you go to climb trees together, you keep talking about the chocolate, uhh. A party, the movies, a long drive, at the beach, you keep talking about the chocolate! LET IT GO! Be with them for a while, then surprise them later. Basically, congratulations, that was very funny, move on. After it has had it's time on the shelf, when it becomes a surprise, then use it again. Don't kill it before it's had a chance to live.

Check In - What is the purpose behind the truth that is happening. Ask yourself what does this mean? What caused it to happen, what will it make happen later, and most important what is it doing to the current circumstances. You broke dad's celebrated ceramic eagle. Did someone famous give it to him? What are you doing to deal with the pieces on the floor? What will happen to you later? Oh, and, "it" can be anything, an emotion, an uncomfortable thing to say, flattery, a great catch, homework, a workout, yardwork.... anything. Make whatever happens important.

Honest Emotion - Not that fake-yuppy-overdone-ill-conceived crap. I mean if you lose something/someone dear to you, how do you cry? If you get into the college of your dreams, how are you happy? If you are betrayed by your closest friend, how are you upset? Take those honest emotions and apply them to whatever "thing" is happening in front of you, in the scene.

Smarts - Leave the cartoons on television. Play smart. Utilize your intelligence to push the scene forward. If you don't know something, do your best. We all understand you don't know everything and of course you are improvising, so, we don't expect a well prepared lecture. But please, if it's common sense, and/or if you know what is happening, play in such a way.

You - You are your best weapon. The golden thing about you is, no one else on stage knows what you know. Your experiences, your well of wonder, your bag of sui generis sauce... it's all yours. No one can take it from you. I beg you, draw from it, use it, flaunt it, otherwise, we are not getting to see everything there is to offer. This is no time to be worried, scared, shy, introverted, or locked in the hiding box. The more you honestly spread on your sui generis sauce, the easier things become.

Fun - Enjoy yourself, you are there to do so. If you are not having fun, find someplace where you will.

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