“To react is to accept another’s authority to change you.” — Sébastien Chambres, 5th April 2017, Brest (FR)
Indifference is the the worst thing in improv. Indifference to an offer is the very essence of blocking it. Ignoring or not caring about your partners is exactly what will make others not want to play with you in the future.
Improv is all about reaction, not about action. And real reaction invokes change.
Accept anything to change your character. This doesn’t mean you should change your mind all the time (a strict vegetarian should never accept that sausage). It can also mean you change your emotion, change your status, change your energy, change the speed/volume/pitch of speaking, etc…
If you’re serving your partner, you accept their authority to change you.
“The improv actor should always be willing, but never wanting.” — Flavien Reppert, 8th June 2016, Athens (GR)
Simple, yet profound. Always accept whatever is happening around you, and never force your ideas on your partners.
Obviously, almost the opposite counts for your improvised characters. They should have a clear objective and give at least some resistance to change, in order to become real and compelling.
The contradiction between actor and character is often huge. When somebody shouts “Please, don’t go!” at you on stage, the actor behind that character probably wants you to leave. And when you hear “I’m leaving you now.”, that actor might be signalling you to try and make the character stay.
Yet, as an improv actor: be willing, but not wanting.
“If you have even only one good improviser on stage, nobody on that stage is a bad improviser.” — Antonio Vulpio, 6th July 2015, Milan (IT)
This is a very bold statement to make, I love it. It tells us that the strength of an improviser lies in making your partner look good, in (over)acceptance.
It reminds me of shows where improvisers create scenes or even longer stories with random audience members on stage. If they do it well, the untrained improviser will still look very good.
Powerful wisdom, this one.