Final Look at The Climax

Once The Question of the Play has been raised and The Foundation Funnel is under way, The Climax can occur at almost anytime. In some plays, The Foundation Funnel is remarkably short. The Climax occurs shortly after the Funnel begins, and the rest of the play is spent in The Foundation Finale as the consequences of The Climax slowly take their toll upon the characters. In other plays, The Foundation Funnel is remarkably long, lasting up until moments before the final curtain, layering plot...

Final Look at The First Significant Event

The First Significant Event is that final playing card that causes the card house to collapse. It should spring with ease from a well-loaded Foundation. Sometimes it will be introduced deliberately. An improviser will feel that The Foundation has fulfilled its purpose and will choose to end it by boldly identifying a character 2 and committing The First Significant Event. More often than not, that's the way it should be. However, this is improvisation, and such things are not always in our...

Final Look at The First Significant Repercussion

In a two-act play, The First Significant Repercussion should end act one. If anything, a few more minutes of action or dialogue might be necessary to bring the act to a close and allow the full weight of the repercussion to resonate with the audience before the lights come down but that's about it. By raising The Question of the Play, The First Significant Repercussion provides the perfect moment of drama and suspense to pause the action and to send the audience into intermission. The trick, of...

Final Look at The Foundation Finale

This is where it all comes together, and the play is brought to a close. Obviously, the most important requirement of The Foundation Finale is that The Question of the Play is finally answered, in no uncertain terms, either yes or no. Also important, is that any loose ends, regarding any other characters, are resolved. You just don't want the audience leaving with the thought, But, what about the daughter Didn't she say something about eloping Keep in mind that The Foundation Finale can be...

Final Look at The Foundation Funnel

Once The Question of the Play has been raised, it's time for the characters to decide whether they want the answer to be yes or no. The Foundation Funnel is spent in pursuit of the desired outcome. While The Question of the Play concerns itself solely with characters 1 and 2, it is important that the answer to The Question be of vital importance to every single character in the play. The stakes must be incredibly high for everyone involved. That way, when a yes and a no meet, their passionate,...

Final Look at The Question of the Play

Since The Question of the Play is not necessarily said out loud, it is important that everyone in the cast agrees on the same question. If everyone in the cast has a different interpretation of the events in act one, and a different articulation of The Question of the Play, then everyone will be working at cross purposes throughout all of act two. With Freestyle Repertory Theater, we spent the intermission identifying the important facts Who's character 1, who's character 2, what was The First...

Tip For Success

It's helpful to start asking very specific and immediate questions such as, What are you holding in your hand or What type of room are you in rather than starting off with more conceptual questions such as What is your greatest fear Also, it seems best to save the question, What is your name for later on in the process. If that question is asked too early then player 1 is forced to make an arbitrary choice rather than allow her name to occur to her more organically as she gets to know her...

Back to The Beginning

Let's take a closer look at The Beginning and bring our structural map to the next stage of its evolution. From now on, we'll refer to The Beginning as The Foundation. The Foundation ends with The First Significant Event. So, the second evolution of our structural map of a well-constructed play looks like this The Foundation is usually about 25 percent of the entire play. So, in a two-hour play, the first thirty minutes or so is foundation. It's important to note that The Foundation, although...

Creating Characters

Characters, of course, are an essential part of a compelling story and a well-constructed play. As important as it is to have a sound and sturdy plot, it is the characters that will capture the heart and soul of the audience. Our connection to the characters makes us laugh and cry, and our connection to the characters serves as our gateway into the drama's profound world of the universal human condition. I have never seen an audience rise to its feet and cheer for the success of a First...

Creating Environments

In a full-length, improvised play, a well-created environment can be a wonderful gift to the improviser. More than just providing a location, the environment can help develop the story. It can serve as a catalyst for the action, affect the relationships between the characters, and offer a symbol or a metaphor to feed the play's theme. In fact, in a full-length play, the environment not only can do those things but it also absolutely must. The world of the drama has no room for the arbitrary....

Ending Stalemate

Dana (Holding back the tears.) That hurt me, Camille. That really hurt. Especially coming from you, my best friend. You know that I am still very tender from my breakup with Brad. And, I am looking for work. Everyday. At the gym. But, they keep saying no, no matter how much I ask. And, I've just been experiencing a lot of rejection lately, from Brad, from the gym. And the only thing I have, right now, to make me feel good about myself, is my jazzercise. Please, Camille, just let me do my...

Ending Victory

Dana (Holding back the tears.) That hurt me, Camille. That really hurt. Especially coming from you, my best friend. You know that I am still very tender from my breakup with Brad. And, I am looking for work. Every day. At the gym. But, they keep saying no, no matter how much I ask. And, I've just been experiencing a lot of rejection lately, from Brad, from the gym. And the only thing I have, right now, to make me feel good about myself, is my jazzercise. Please, Camille, just let me do my...

Exercise Ah but Theres So Much at Risk

Player 1 makes a simple offer that establishes the relationship and introduces a situation. Player 2 responds with a monologue that must include the phrase, Ah, but there is so much at risk Here are some examples Player 1 Okay, lady, where do you want the couch Player 2 Over there. No, over there No, I mean Ah, but there is so much at risk If I place it incorrectly and Madame Brule is displeased, I shall be fired as her interior decorator I shall be ruined Disgraced Disgraced All right, put it...

Exercise As If That Wasnt Enough

This is a fun way to practice raising the dramatic stakes in a series of successive offers. Player 1 makes a simple statement that introduces a character and a situation. Each successive offer starts with the phrase, And, as if that wasn't enough and raises the dramatic stakes of all that came before it. Player 1 Allison was late for work. Player 2 And, as if that wasn't enough, she was supposed to be there early for an important meeting with her boss. Player 3 And, as if that wasn't enough,...

Exercise Because

This is an effective exercise for practicing Cause and Effect. The group improvises a story with each player contributing the next line. Each line begins with the word because, reiterates the previous offer, and then contributes the next. Do it fast and have fun Here's an example Player 1 Mary took flying lessons. Player 2 Because Mary took flying lessons, she earned her pilot's license. Player 3 Because she earned her pilot's license, her father allowed her to fly the family airplane. Player 4...

Exercise Breaking Routines

In this exercise, we simply take the first section of the Story Spine and use it to practice creating Foundations and destroying them with dramatic First Significant Events Again, it can be done in a group or done individually. As always, do it fast, have fun, and be spontaneous. Here are some examples and accompanying observations Player 1 Once upon a time, there was a little boy and a little girl. Player 2 Every day, the little boy teased the little girl, and the little girl cried. Player 3...

Exercise Character Clay

This is a fun exercise for building spontaneous characters based on character endowments from the other players. The group forms a circle, and player 1 stands in the center. The players in the circle take turns giving player 1 character endowments such as, This character is fifty years old. She's always very nervous. She giggles when she talks. She loves children. She dreams of being a movie star. As each endowment is offered, player 1 incorporates it into her physical creation of the...

Exercise Character Conjuring

Player 1 and player 2 improvise a short scene in which they endow an offstage character. The endowment can include a physical description, vocal quality, personality traits, habits, etc. When players 1 and 2 are finished, player 3 enters as the character and fulfills the endowments Player 1 Jason, Ms. Parker is on her way up in the elevator. Is the conference room ready for her presentation Player 2 Yes, Ms. Peabody, we're all set in here. I even closed the blinds because I know how sensitive...

Exercise Combination Stake

This is a quick, little drill to become familiar with the two methods of raising the dramatic stakes increasing the amount at risk and increasing the odds of it all being lost. Player 1 makes an opening offer, player 2 raises the stakes by increasing the amount at risk, and player 3 raises the stakes, again, by increasing the odds of it all being lost. For example Player 1 Jasmine was walking through the woods. Player 2 Her infant child was sleeping in her arms. Player 3 The wolves began to...

Exercise Endowment Ping Pong

Player 1 and player 2 improvise an exchange of dialogue in which every single offer adds an endowment to the other's character Player 1 Professor You grew a beard Player 2 Simon Back from congress Player 1 Yes, to seek your help. You are the preeminent authority on global warming. Player 2 Ah, yes I read about your initiative on the floor. It's an uphill battle, you know. But, then again, Simon Lapinsky was never a man to shrink from a challenge. Player 1 And Professor Potsdam was never a man...

Exercise Is It Hot in Here or Is It Just Me

Prepare by writing environmental attributes (such as extremely hot, isolated, being bugged by the FBI, etc.) on slips of paper. Player 1 and player 2 choose a slip of paper at random and improvise a scene in which the chosen environmental attribute affects the characters and serves as a catalyst for the action. Try to talk about the environmental attribute as little as possible. Rather, allow its influence to affect the relationship on stage by affecting the behavior and the emotions of the...

Exercise Life Is Like a Metaphor

Standing in a circle, player 1 announces an environment and player 2 explains how that environment is just like life. Then player 2 announces an environment and player 3 creates the metaphor. It goes around the circle until everyone has had a turn Player 1 A tree house. Player 2 Life is a tree house. You put it together with whatever you can find, and you hope the wind doesn't blow it down before you've had enough time to play in it. A gym. Player 3 Life is like a gym. The harder you work, the...

Exercise Loading The Foundation

By using the first two lines of the Story Spine, we can practice loading The Foundation. The first offer introduces The Foundation, and the second offer loads it Player 1 Once upon a time, there was a lady named Blanch who was experiencing significant financial difficulties. Player 2 Every day, she went to work as a teller in a bank. Player 1 Once upon a time, there was a pilot who flew a plane for a major American airline. Player 2 Every day, she moonlighted at three different jobs in order to...

Exercise Raising the Stakes by Entering a Scene

Player 1 and player 2 improvise a thirty-second scene. Player 3 enters and brings in an offer that raises the stakes of the scene. Here's an example Player 1 Mother, I have come to a decision. Player 2 Yes, Masha. What have you decided Player 1 I am leaving Russia. I am going to America. Player 2 Masha What type of nonsense is this Player 1 Mother, there is nothing here for me I have talent, Mother, and I wish to dance on Broadway (Enter, player 3) Player 3 (Shouting outside, as he enters.) Agh...

Exercise Tell Me about It

Player 1 and player 2 improvise a scene in which each line of dialogue must add to the description of the environment Player 1 Wow, I bet nobody's been in this attic for years. Player 2 The dust must be three inches thick. Player 1 The light switch is over there, by the old trunk. Player 2 I can barely get to it there are so many boxes in the way. Player 1 Ooh, there's my old microscope I used to love this thing. Player 2 It's freezing up here. So, this was your bedroom Player 1 Yeah, it was...

Exercise The Causal Carousel

To practice making Cause and Effect offers in the context of a scene, try the Causal Carousel. Every scene is thirty seconds in length. Player 1 and player 2 perform scene A. Player 2 and player 3 perform scene B. Scene B must be caused directly by scene A. Player 3 and player 4 perform scene C. Scene C must be caused directly by scene B. Player 4 and player 5 perform scene D. Scene D must be caused directly by scene C. And, finally, player 5 and player 1 perform scene E. Scene E must be caused...

Exercise The Chair of Significance

This is a fun exercise for developing the ability to recognize when it's time for The First Significant Event and to purposefully make it happen. Two or three players begin to improvise The Foundation of a five-minute play. Since The Foundation is about 25 percent of the entire play, this Foundation should take about a minute and a half. At just about that point, one of the players claims the position of character 1 by standing on a chair, the chair of significance Character 1 points...

Exercise Theres No Place like Home

Player 1 and player 2 improvise a scene in which the endowment of the environment contributes to the development of player 2's character. The scene ends when player 1 feels satisfied and can say the line, Wow, just like you. Here's an example Player 1 Jessica, this is your office Player 2 I know, can you believe it Player 1 Who would have thought that my old college roommate would have done so well for herself Player 2 Ginny, it's so good to see you again. Player 1 It's just so neat in here...

Exercise This Is a Job for

Here's a silly, little exercise for drilling the creation of characters that are being requested by the play and that will exist in service to the plot. Player 1 makes an offer establishing the relationship and the location. Player 2 makes an offer introducing a problem. Player 3 shouts, Stand back This is a job for and then completes the sentence by announcing who she is so that it's clear why she's the perfect person to solve the problem. Player 1 Peter, Mother's home Player 2 Mom, there's a...

Extending the Action

In movies, television shows, and typical short form-style improvisation, dramatic events may unfold rather rapidly. For example, in a ten-second scene near the end of a movie, a deceived wife can enter her adulterous husband's hospital room, ask the nurse to leave, triumphantly serve him with divorce papers, scorn his startled look of surprise and dismay, and exit triumphantly with time enough for a fade-to-black on the destroyed husband's face. Similarly, in a typical short form-style improv...

From Dramatic Alignment to the new Platform

We have seen how the action flows from the Dramatic Conflict, through The Resolution, to the new Platform. Let's back up and track the flow of the action for a scene of Dramatic Alignment. If the objectives of the Main Forces align, then one of two things will happen. The first possibility is that they will cooperate to achieve their common or complementary objective and achieve it. At that point, the new Platform is built, and the scene is over. The second possibility is that, in the pursuit...

How to Use the Book

It's best to read the entire book before beginning to experiment with the exercises. Important topics are introduced gradually and returned to several times throughout the book, each time revealing deeper levels of exploration and development. Not until the end of the book will all of the pieces be thoroughly explored and placed in their proper context. After reading the entire book, start again at the beginning and work through the exercises in the order in which they're presented. On the...

Improvisation

This is a book for experienced improvisers who are interested in learning how to improvise a full-length play. While I hope it contains information that is valuable to improvisers of all levels, I will not spend a great deal of time discussing the very basics of improvisation. However, I would like to establish the approach to improvisation that I use when I perform, teach, and direct. I believe it is the best approach to improvisation and certainly the best chance of succeeding with a...

In Contrast to Another Character

A fabulous way to create a character, that is sure to inspire a lively interaction on stage, is to create one in direct contrast to another. Neil Simon capitalized on this in his famous play The Odd Couple. Oscar is sloppy, unrefined, and easygoing, whereas Felix is fastidious, cultured, and anxious. When you put two characters like that together on stage, the scene is a veritable breeding ground for Dramatic Conflict. In addition to creating two characters that are bound to have an interesting...

In Relation to The Environment

Characters are often defined and developed by the environment in which we see them. The bedroom of a fifteen-year-old, rebellious adolescent heavy-metal-rock fan will look different than the bedroom of her forty-six-year-old, straight-laced, conservative, stock analyst father, and both would provide insight into their inhabitants' characters. I will have more to say on creating environments for a full-length play later, but we can touch on it now as we look at the environment's relationship to...

Mapstory Spinehelpful Hints

Because of that Because of that Because of that Because of that Because of that Because of that The characters take actions that push the answer to The Question either closer to Yes or closer to No. A chain of events is set in motion . . . Because of that Because of that Because of that And ever since then . . . that eventually leads to the answer to The Question of the Play. Feel free, by the way, to use as many Because of that offers as you want. Here are some examples Player 1 Once upon a...

Offer From Story Structural Map Spinefunction

Once upon a time there was a frog named Freida. Every day, she ate a fly. The Foundation is built, and the routine is established. The routine is broken, and The Foundation is destroyed. Because of that, the grasshoppers attacked the frogs. Because of that, the frogs fought back. Because of that, the Swamp Wars of 2007 were born. The characters face the consequences of having broken their routine. They encounter difficulties and struggle against them to survive. Until finally, the flies sided...

Onto The Middle

I call the first part The Foundation Focus, and I call the second part The Foundation Funnel. These two parts are separated by another singular event called The First Significant Repercussion. The First Significant Repercussion gives rise to something that I call The Question of the Play. And finally, The Middle is brought to an end by The Climax. Here, then, is the third evolution of our structural map alongside the second evolution in order to show how The Middle has...

Play Scenes

Choose some fabulous plays and read the scenes out loud as a part of your rehearsal process. If time permits, memorize, rehearse, and perform them for one another. This is an excellent way to become familiar with the natural pacing of events and dialogue in a full-length play. It's also great to find well-written scenes that exemplify whatever skill you are focusing on and to use those scenes as models for your improvisation. Laura Livingston used this technique extensively when directing...

Putting It Together

We have taken a look at the following Cause and Effect Storytelling Raising the Dramatic Stakes The dramatic structure of a full-length play The dramatic flow of a Substantial Scene And, mixed in with our look at characters and environment, we touched on ways to use theatrical symbols and metaphors in order to feed the theme. Let's take one more walk through the Play by Play Structural Map, and I'll offer some final thoughts about putting it all together.

Raising the Dramatic Stakes

The next thing to think about is raising the dramatic stakes. To raise the dramatic stakes is to get our characters into danger by increasing the risk of a given situation. There are two different ways of increasing the risk 1. By increasing the amount that is at risk 2. By increasing the odds of it all being lost For example, if Jennifer is nervous about her first date with Robert, we can raise the dramatic stakes by increasing the amount at risk. We can make Robert the most popular boy in...

Resolution

In order for a scene of Dramatic Conflict to end, there must be a Resolution to the conflict. The Resolution will happen in one of two ways either one of the Forces will be victorious over the other and achieve its objective, or neither of the Forces will be victorious over the other and there will be a stalemate. The Resolution is most closely correlated to The Climax in the structural map of a play. However, The Climax requires the involvement of a third character, or third Force this is not...

Scene

Camille (Entering the apartment.) Wow, what a day I'm just beat. Dana Camille, you're late. I hate it when you're late, Camille. I just hate it. Camille Hey, back off. I had a hard day at work. Dana I don't care, I've been looking for my jazzercise DVD and I can't find it. Do you know where it is Dana Yes, you are the maid. Now, where's my jazzercise DVD Camille Look, I'm not the maid and I'm going to sleep. Dana Good, at least I won't have to listen to you talk. (Dana puts the DVD into the DVD...

Scene A

Player 1 Hello, Blanch, please sit down. Player 1 Blanch, I'm promoting you to management. Player 2 Finally Thank you, Ms. Rodgers, thank you Player 1 You're welcome. Now, Blanch, I need you to fire Ned Pumply. Player 2 Ned Pumply But, he's been here longer than I have. Player 1 Blanch, are you suited for management or not Player 2 Oh, I am, Ms. Rodgers, I am Player 1 All right, then. Fire Ned Pumply.

Scene D

Player 4 Excuse me, is this where they broadcast the evening news Player 5 Yes, it is. And I'm Ben Bradley, the tenacious, investigative television news reporter. Can I help you Player 4 Yes, my husband was fired from his job after twenty-seven years of dedicated service. It's age discrimination, I tell you, age discrimination And I want justice Player 5 Age discrimination, is it Player 5 You bet I will. Now, you just go back home and turn on your television at six o'clock sharp

Scene E

Player 5 Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I'm Ben Bradley, and this is the Six O'clock News. Tonight I am broadcasting live from the office of Abigail Rodgers, in the corporate headquarters of Rodgers, Fitzpatrick, and Mulch, where the filth of age discrimination has settled its slimy dust upon a once most venerable reputation. Abigail Rodgers, was Ned Pumply fired because he was simply too old Player 1 Ben, that's ridiculous. Mr. Pumply was fired because Player 5 Yes, Ms. Rodgers America is...

Structural Map First Evolution

The Foundation is built, and the routine is established. The routine is broken, and The Foundation is destroyed. The characters face the consequences of having broken their routine. They encounter difficulties and struggle against them to survive. The characters embark toward success or failure. The characters either succeed or fail, a new Foundation is built, and a new routine is established.

Structural Map Second Evolution

The central characters' normal routine, in the world of the play, is established. Character 1 breaks the routine by committing a specific action, on stage and in the present, directly upon character 2. The characters face the consequences of having broken their routine. They encounter difficulties and struggle against them to survive. The characters embark toward success or failure. The characters either succeed or fail, a new Foundation is built, and a new routine is established.

Study Acting Directing and Playwriting

Improvisation is a difficult and sophisticated form of art. Not only does it have its own set of skills that needs to be practiced and mastered but it also demands that each performer be an actor, director, and playwright. We portray the characters, don't we We create the stage movement and stage pictures, don't we We write the dialogue, don't we Of course, we do. Wouldn't it be wise of us to study those disciplines and develop our skills to the best of our ability Of course, it would.

The

Everything that happens after The Climax is a part of The End, and I refer to this section as The Foundation Finale. It is in The Foundation Finale that The Climax bears its fruit, the fates of the characters are played out, and The Question of the Play is finally answered. A DEEPER LOOK AT THE FOUNDATION FINALE The potency of The Foundation Finale lies in the fact that some of the characters may be unaware that they have entered it until it's too late for them to do anything about it. That's...

The Flow Of A Substantial Scene

Transition, exposition, and introduction of Main Forces The objective of one Main Force has a direct and significant impact on the other. The two objectives will either align or conflict. ALIGNMENT The two Forces have common or complimentary objectives. CONFLICT The two Forces have opposing objectives. DRAMATIC ALIGNMENT The two Forces cooperate to achieve their common or complimentary objectives. DRAMATIC CONFLICT The two Forces struggle to achieve their objectives in opposition to each other....

The New Platform

By the end of a Substantial Scene, two important things must happen something must be significantly different, for at least one of the characters (or Main Forces), from what it was in the beginning, and the following scene must be set into motion. These are the elements of the new Platform that is built at the end of the scene the change that has taken place is firmly presented to the audience, establishing the new status quo, and the following scene is set into motion. Here is The Platform...

The Structure of a Substantial Scene

Plays are constructed of scenes in the way that buildings are constructed of bricks. Now that we have an understanding of how the building is designed, let's take a look at how to make the bricks. Scenes, too, have a beginning, a middle, and an end. However, their construction is significantly different from that of a play. This is because the demands of a play are different than the demands of a scene. A play must present a complete story. Its beginning must cause its middle, and its middle...

Third Evolution Core Function

The central characters' normal routine, in the world of the play, is established. Character 1 breaks the routine by committing a specific action, on stage and in the present, directly upon character 2. The Foundation crumbles. Robbed of their familiar Foundation, the characters struggle to survive as they encounter ever-increasing risk in their new and unknown world. Material from The Foundation is reincorporated and refocused in such a way as to continuously raise the dramatic stakes of The...

Tips for Success

Player 2 should be careful to raise the dramatic stakes without making player 1 look bad, wrong, or stupid. For example, if Ms. Feinbloom responded to Peter by saying, Yes, but I needed it by nine o'clock You're twenty minutes late. Jesus, why can't you ever do anything right Ah, but there's so much at risk If I don't get the results of this report to Ms. Apex by 11 30, we'll lose the deal, you idiot The stakes would be raised, but there would now be an extremely negative energy between player...

What Youll Find in the Book

This book will present a step-by-step method for learning how to improvise a complete, full-length play. It will address Cause and Effect storytelling Raising the dramatic stakes The dramatic structure of a play How to improvise and remain spontaneous within that dramatic structure How to improvise long, Substantial Scenes with strong character objectives and productive Dramatic Conflict How to create characters that support the narrative How to create settings and environments that serve as...

Who Can Benefit from the Book

Professional and student improvisers who want to improvise a full-length play Improvisers who are not yet ready to improvise a full-length play but want to improve upon certain areas such as storytelling, character, environment, or advanced scene work College and high-school improvisation and theater teachers who are looking to bring an advanced improvisation curriculum into the classroom Playwrights, screenwriters, and television writers who are interested in a unique approach to mastering...

Work with Me and Let Me Help

Call me Write to me I would love to work with you. I can travel anywhere to offer classes, workshops, and custom-designed training programs through my San Francisco-based theater company, Synergy Theater. I can even work with your group to help conceive and direct an original show. I'd be eager to talk with you about how we can work together to help your group achieve its artistic goals and make a lasting and significant contribution to the vibrant world of improvisation. Please feel free to...

How I Developed the Play by Play Approach to Improvising a Full Length Play

Before I started improvising, I had been writing plays for several years. My plays were being produced on the university and offBroadway level, and I was wrapping up two degrees from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, a BFA from its dramatic-writing program and an MFA from its musical-theater program (writing it, not singing it ). The best book that I had ever read about playwriting was called Playwriting, How to Write for the Theater by Bernard Grebanier (Harper and Row, 1979). It is still the...

Info

Copyright under Berne Copyright Convention, Universal Copyright Convention, and Pan-American Copyright Convention. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior permission of the publisher. An imprint of Allworth Communications, Inc. 10 East 23 rd Street, New York, NY 10010 Interior design by Robin Black, www.blackbirdcreative.biz...

Spontaneity versus Structure

Improvisation is a constant balance between spontaneity and structure. Even the simplest performance game depends upon shaping our spontaneity into a purposeful form or structure. We do this by imposing restrictions upon it, by restricting the way we can move, the number of words we can use, or the order in which we can speak or by any of the millions of other rules that contribute to the phenomenal wealth of improv games that have thrilled audiences for years. Far from being antithetical,...

Exercise Character Foil

Player 1 and player 2 improvise a scene throughout which the characters are developed in contrast to one another Player 1 Hey, Jimmy, look. It's a cave. Player 2 A cave Player 1 Yeah, come on, let's go inside. Player 2 Oh, uh Okay. Yeah, let's go inside. (They enter the cave.) Player 1 Wow, I bet that nobody's been in here for a million years Player 2 Hey, we better get out of here, Barry. I'm kind of scared. Player 1 Aw, you don't have to be scared, Jimmy. I'll protect you. Besides, it's just...

Exercise The Expanded Story Spine

This version of the Story Spine adds the offer And that's when to allow for The First Significant Repercussion, the offer Which raised the question to allow for the articulation of The Question of the Play, and a new Because of that . . . section after The Climax in order to show how The Climax leads to the answer But one day . . . (First Significant Event) And, that's when . . . (First Significant Repercussion) Which raised the question . . . (The Question of the Play) Here's how the expanded...

Scene B

Agatha Trimble, I am very impressed. Player 3 Well, thank you, Jonathan. Player 4 And nobody else gets the run of this place Player 3 Oh, my nephew has a key, but he hardly makes use of it. Gosh. What would he say if he knew that his old Aunt Agatha was being romanced, right here in the cabin, by a boy his own age Player 4 Twenty-nine, and I'm still a boy Player 3 Jonathan, sweetie, I'm fifty-three. Player 4 Well, I hope I don't remind you too much of your nephew....

Exercise The Story Spine

The Story Spine is an excellent exercise for learning how to build a well-constructed story. Simply improvise the endings to each of the following sentence starters This can be done as an individual exercise or in groups, with each player taking the next line. Do it fast and have fun Here are some quick examples Player 1 Once upon a time there was a frog named Freida who lived in a swamp. When I first created the Story Spine, it didn't have a name. I simply called it Once Upon a Time . . . It...

Dramatic Alignment or Dramatic Conflict

After The Moment of Engagement, one of two things will be true. The Forces will either have objectives that align or objectives that conflict. If their objectives align, they will have either the same objective or complementary objectives. An example of two Forces having the same objective would be my example from before in which the two prisoners both wanted to escape from the cell. An example of two Forces having complementary objectives would be if one of the prisoners did not want to escape...