Next chapter in Keith Johnstone's Impro. I better hurry and make my notes, have to take it back to the library soon. (Libraries ROCK! free knowledge that doesn't clutter up your house)
Once we believe that art is self-expression, then the individual can be criticised not only for his skill or lack of skill, but simply for being what he is. (if art is self-expression then it explains why so many people deliberately are boring and uncreative, so that they do not expose any of themself)
Imagination is as effortless as perception, unless we think it might be 'wrong', which is what our education encourages us to believe. Then we experience ourselves as 'imagining', as 'thinking up an idea', but what we're really doing is faking up the sort of imagination we think we ought to have. (editing before you write anything down leads you to crush your imagination because it isn't suitable, create freely first edit afterwards)
'Raise your arm. Now, why are you raising it?'
'You asked me to.'
'Yes, but why might you have raised it?'
'To hold on to a strap in the Tube'
'Then that's why you raised your arm.'
'But I could have given any reason. I don't have time to choose the best reason'
'Don't choose anything. Trust your mind. Take the first idea it gives you. Now try being sad. Be unhappier. More. More. Now tell me why you're in this state?'
'My child has died.'
'Did you think that up?'
'I just knew. But my teacher said you shouldn't act adjectives.'
'You shouldn't act adjexctives without justifying them.'
(don't over think things, in fact don't even give yourself that option, just leap and trust your mind to furnish something to land on, trust your intuition, and work with what you get)
I learned in school that the first idea was unsatisfactory and should be rejected in favor of a better idea because the first one is usually psychotic, obscene, and unoriginal.
Sanity has nothing directly to do with the way you think. It's a matter of presenting yourself as safe (aka predictable) A Canadian study on attitudes to mental illness concluded that it was when someone's behaviour was perceived as 'unpredictable' that the community rejected them. Laughter is a whip that keeps us in line, we try to not stand out because we'll be laughed at. Mad thoughts are those which other people find unacceptable, and train us not to talk about, but which we go to the theatre to see expressed.
My feeling isn't that the group should be 'obscene', but that they should be aware of the ideas that are occuring to them. I don't want them to go rigid and blank out if an 'obscene' thought occurs to them.
The improvisor has to realise that the more obvious he is , the more original he appears. I constantly point out how much the audience like someone who is direct, and how they always laugh with pleasure at a really 'obvious' idea. No two people are exactly alike, and the more obvious an improviser is, the more hiimself he appears. Ask people to give you an original idea and see the chaos it throws them into as they try to be clever. If they said the first thing that came into their head, there'd be no problem because it would be a unique answer from a unique individual.Striving after originality takes you far away from your true self, and makes your work mediocre.
There are people who prefer to say 'Yes', and there are people who prefer to say 'No'. Thos who say 'Yes' are rewarded by the adventures they have, and those who say 'No' are rewarded by the safety they attain.
'Your name Smith?'
'No' (action is blocked, it's not going to go anywhere)
'Oh... are you Brown, then?'
'Yes' (action is open to moving forwards)
'You're the one who's been mucking about with my wife then?'
Low-status actors tend to accept, adn high-status players to block. High-status actors will block any action unless they feel they can control it. There's no reason why you can't play high status, and yet yield to other people's invention.
'Your name Smith?'
'And what if it is?'
'You've been making indecent suggestions to my wife.'
'I don't consider them indecent!'
I call anything that an actor does an 'offer'. Each offer can either be accepted, or blocked. If you yawn, your partner can yawn too, and therefore accept your offer. A block is anything that prevents the action from developing, or that wipes out your partner's premise. If it develops the action it isn't a block.
'Your name Smith?'
'What if it is you horrible little man!'
This is not a block, even thouhg it is anagonistic, the 2nd actor has accepted the offered situation and is working within it.
Good improvisers seem telepathic; everything looks prearranged. This is because they accept all offers made-which is something no 'normal' person would do. Once you learn to accept offers, then accidents can non longer interrupt the action. When someone's chair collapses that's an offer that you can accept and run with. If they yawn, if they stand there being taller then you, everything is an offer you can use.