Look at each other

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“The more time you spend looking at each other, the better your show will be.” — Charlotte Gittins and Andy Murray, 28th January 2017, Amsterdam (NL)

Charlotte and Andy form the British duo Folie à Deux and teach about 2-person shows. You can tell from their shows that they love working with each other and fully accept each other on stage all the time.

This connection is of course formed offstage too and a great tip is to spend a significant part of your warmup doing an emotional check-in and time simply looking at each other.

Improv is working together, so it will make your show better, in every single way. Always.

"The more time you spend looking at each other, the better your show will be." -- Charlotte Gittins… Click To Tweet

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Follow the fun

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“Follow the fun!” — Pedro Borges, 27th January 2017, Amsterdam (NL)

In improv we want to be on the lookout for the things that are bigger than us. If you ever find yourself lost, just follow the fun and you will very much enjoy where you end up. But keep on following the fun diligently, don’t just look at it.

"Follow the fun!" -- Pedro Borges, 27th January 2017, Amsterdam (NL) Click To Tweet

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Some maths

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“Your show = performers + audience + space.” — Will Luera, 21st January 2017, Amsterdam (NL)

The impact of the performers on the show is pretty obvious. The team with which you’re playing is also important on your input to the show. If you’re really there to support your partners, then you play very differently depending on who you’re sharing the stage with.

Then, we all have felt the difference between playing for ten people or a hundred or perhaps even a thousand. But there’s also the difference between playing for children, in front of people with different native tongues, specialised audiences at companies, etc…

Finally, in improv, the so-called fourth wall stands behind the audience, not between the audience and the stage. Use the space in which you are performing to the fullest, let it shape your show.

Obviously, playing in a bar will result in a different show from performing in a grand theatre. Yet, wherever we are, we should always check out the performance space before the show and during the show not be afraid to push the boundaries of what we call the stage.

"Your show = performers + audience + space" -- Will Luera, 21st January 2017, Amsterdam (NL) Click To Tweet

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Explode

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“Commit with an explosion!” — Daniel Renwick, 22nd October 2016, Tallinn (EE)

I love this expression. We have discussed commitment a lot on this blog already (see http://improblog.be/tag/commitment/), but this is the first time we look at the beginning of commitment.

By jumping into everything head first, you’re leaving no way out for yourself. This might help you to simply let go of your fears and inhibitions and move on to explore your unknown further and further.

Remember, this has nothing to do with ‘exploding emotions’ on scene. You can also commit with an explosion into being a very silent character and commit with an explosion into very small movements, for example.

Try this in your next scene!

"Commit with an explosion!" -- Daniel Renwick, 22nd October 2016, Tallinn (EE) Click To Tweet

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Real truth

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“Truth is better than realism.” — Marko Mayerl, 17th October 2016, Hamburg (DE)

Improv as a stage art form allows us improvisers to do almost anything we want. All too often however, we limit ourselves to overly realistic portrayal of our characters and their lives. I think it might be because of an overdose of television and movies we are consuming, making us forget the power of theatricality.

Make it bigger! We should use all of our body and voice to deliver our message to our audiences. Think of the stage as a canvas to paint on rather than a set to play in.

Dance! Sing! Bring us inner monologues! Jump around! Lose yourself completely in dilemma’s, emotions and beautiful moments. Go for choregraphic gestures to engage the audience into the inner world of the character.

Use everything you have to portray the truth for your character and don’t let yourself be limited by that dirty thing called realism.

"Truth is better than realism." -- Marko Mayerl, 17th October 2016, Hamburg (DE) Click To Tweet

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Surprise!

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“Be surprised by yourself.” — Daniel Renwick, 22nd October 2016, Tallinn (EE)

First do, then think. Or, as said before: first jump off the cliff, then figure out how the parachute works. That’s precisely what you have to do to keep on inspiring yourself or, in fixed groups, your partners.

Going boldly where you have never gone before is always rewarded in improv. Embrace the unknown, go to where the danger is and… surprise yourself. It’s fun! 🙂

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Reaction and meaning

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“If you want to know the meaning of your words, look at your partner. Their reaction defines the meaning.” — Marko Mayerl, 17th July 2016, Hamburg (DE)

Beautiful, isn’t it? And so true. If your character says something along the lines of “Stephan, I’m divorcing from your sister”, you might think it holds a lot of meaning. But this is totally out of your hands, as it’s the character Stephan’s reaction to your words that instills (or detracts) any meaning to them.

On the other hand, if your character has a line “Do you want some coffee?” and your scene partner turns silent and looks at your angrily, all of a sudden this inconspicuous sentence appears to imply a lot of shared history and thus meaning.

Another great example of how in improv the responsibility of a scene or story can never lie with one person. It is always working together at heart.

"If you want to know the meaning of your words, look at your partner. Their reaction defines the… Click To Tweet

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Doing and being

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“Concentrate on doing and being, not on meaning and conveying.” — Marko Mayerl, 16th July 2016, Hamburg (DE)

Internalise whatever it is you’re doing. Once you’re feeling an emotion or reaction strongly enough on the inside, it will automatically show on the outside. And it will be more truthful this way too; free bonus!

In fact, this is acting 101: don’t pretend you’re crying. Cry! Don’t ‘act’ you’re angry. Be really angry!

Many improvisers are afraid of this and on top of that most lack any formal training as actors or stage artists in general.

Just go for it and believe in yourself. We all know it’s not for real, no need to constantly remind us of that.

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Don’t try

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“Do your best, but never try.” — Kevin Gillese, 11th June 2016, Athens (GR)

Just like Yoda says: “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.” I like this quote very much in the context of improv. Always play at the top of your skills, push your boundaries, even dare to leave your comfort zone when committing to whatever it is you’re doing, but never ‘try’. Trying implies fear of failure, it implies some timidity.

The worst is probably when improvisers show the audience they are just ‘trying’ something. This perhaps is most often seen when actors engage into a song or some physical activity.

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