Long Form Improv – Sample Scene-work Workshop
My improv philosophy is that there isn’t a definitive approach to improv, and that improv is a artform that is constantly morphing, expanding and it’s relatively new. The knowledge about improv that we pick up in our improv journey are more suggestions than absolute truths. If improv was a video game, this tools would be “cheat codes” to make improv easier and more satisfying.
Warm up: George, Word Association, Mild Meld, Big Booty, Ninja.
Two-person three line scenes (warm-up).
Two-person short scenes where before initiating the scene partners make a mental decision about the relationship we have with the other improviser.
Initiate scenes inspired by the physicality of our scene partner and what that communicates to us about his or her mood, emotions, profession, or whatever other information we can obtain by their physicality.
Practice the importance of knowing what we want from the other scene partner (this works better when what we want is not material but more associated with emotions such as respect, love, compassion, etc).
Gift our scene partner game (pan y queso). This is to practice helping our scene partner with information that informs his or her character and makes it easier to play and to keep the scene going.
Two person scenes where we quickly determine the who, what, where of the scene (with 3 “referees”).
Organic/Naturalistic improv: Attempt two-person scenes where improvisers are as natural as possible and nothing extraordinary happens during the scene. This scene is the opposite of “this is the day where that thing happened”. The world doesn’t come to an end during this scene, this is how 99% of life happens as opposed to the 1% of life where exciting and unexpected things happen.
Editing scenes in a montage: “Walking through doors”. Improvising as if we were walking through fog and we could only see the next step.
- Things to try: “let’s go there” from the sidelines.
- Easier: from the sidelines we edit the scene by saying “Now I would like to see the following: these improvisers are in xyz location, the situation is the following…”.
Improvising “paranoid”: listening as if our scene partner had second intentions, we don’t take anything at face value. What our scene partner is saying actually hides something else and we don’t take anything literally from our scene partner.
Practicing the game of the scene: establishing the base reality and then detect the first unusual thing that happens in the scene.
Student becomes the coach: two person scene where a third person acts as the coach/director and after the scene he or she comments on how the scene went, things the coach liked and things the coach would do differently.
Holding on to your thing: holding on to the choice made at the top of the scene and not losing that point of view or “thing” brought by the character at the top of the scene.
Dream scenes: one of the workshop participants selects two scene partners to act out a “dream” scenario that tickles him or her as a selfish wish. For example, I would like John and Joan to be good cop and bad cop, during a break in the cafeteria of the police station.