32 Ways To Get Unstuck in an Improv Scene – Part II

By Randall | Improv Tips
22 Mar 2012
This is part 2 of a 4 part series. These 32 items are compiled from a list that I brainstormed, and include principles that I learned in workshops from David KoechnerMicah Sherman, Mandy Butler, Kevin Patrick RobbinsArmando DiazDad’s GarageThe Village Theatre, and Automatic Improv, as well as a few of my own thoughts.
  1. Reconnect to your scene partner. Focus on them for a second, observe something about them, and make a “You” statement. This will bring you back into the moment, and tether you back to the other person.
  2. React to something. Make a line of dialog or an action important. Let it affect your character in some way, then react to it. Reacting is what makes an offer an offer; being passive or dismissive kills it.
  3. Interact with your environment. The environment is your third scene partner, and needs to be included and supported as such. Explore the location. In any location, there are objects with a history. Move around in your environment and discover or experience something, or share an activity with your partner.
  4. Discover, don’t report. Don’t just tell us about all of the things that already happened. Let us watch you discover something new in the space.
  5. Emphasize your status. Whether you are higher or lower status than your partner, exaggerate that a bit more. Status differences build tension, which will draw your audience in. But be careful not to transition your status without an impetus.
  6. Focus on your want. If you feel like you are lacking direction, it’s probably because your character is lacking a clearly defined want. Think about what would motivate and drive your character, then let that steer your decisions in the scene.
  7. Be specific about something. Scenes slow down when statements are vague and ambiguous. Specific details are interesting. Don’t just wait for your partner to fill in all of the blanks. If someone says “How could you do this to me?” and we don’t know what “this” is or who “me” is, we’re not getting anywhere. Name it.
  8. Make more assumptions and logical inferences. Ask yourself “If this is true, then what else is true?” Knowing what you know about your scene partner’s character, what else could you assume is also true about them? How can you take the information you have and grow it?

Do you have additional tactics to free yourself from sticky scenes? Or do you disagree with any of the ones listed above? Leave your notes in the comments section below and share your wisdom with your fellow readers!

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