You don’t have to ‘fight for your right’ to Improv.

I see a lot of fights on stage.  Some nights there are so many people fighting on stage I feel like I’m at Wal-mart near Christmas time.  Fights stop us from going forward.  I know my position and your position. We are not really improvising, now we are just finding ways of defending and attacking while being clever. So why do so many improvisers feel like arguing is good scene work? Is there a time for a fight? And if you are a player how do you get past the fight? Let’s talk!Why are there so many fights in improv scenes?Players love fights on stage for a couple of reasons.  The first is “conflict” is said to be good on stage.  I think that “tension” is really what we are looking for on stage.  Fighting, arguing, and conflict are the easiest form of tension.  The tension coming from “What is keeping both of these people here and not just walking off?”  The next easiest type of tension is sexual.  Fighting is the easiest tension for many people to play, just as anger is the easiest emotion for some people to play.  However you can find tension in many different ways.  You can have tension in the characters being in a different environment.  The relationship can change. You can be on the same page as you partner and still be tense.  The great thing about a good straight person is they know where the tension is and they play it like a harp.Is there ever a good time for a fight?Yes.  If your scene is a game.  A game, by my definition is a scene that has a joke that is repeated and heightened.  If you are playing a game, a fight is great because it will stop the scene from going forward so it is easier to play your game again.  Since the purpose of a game scene is to get laughs and a fighting scene keeps you from moving forward you start to loop and are on terra firma, so when you want to play the laugh card you can easily do it.How do you get past the fights?Don’t fight it, feel it and own it, get deeper.The first way to avoid a fight on stage is easy, lose.  That’s right, if someone attacks your character on stage for being something or the other, agree with them. Fighting comes from a deep seeded defense mechanism that many of us have instilled in childhood.  If you are attacked on stage, lose!  This is easier when you are playing a character.  It is easier for us to have a character admit faults than it is for us to do.  Practice losing arguments on stage with a friend.Most fights start with the first line, “I can’t believe you did that!”.  Watch out for these first line traps and own it.  If you say something like “I know, I suck (or rock, etc).”  You get past the fight into some interesting areas.  Once your character owns being fat, ugly, mean, etc you can move the scene forward into finding out what the scene is about in actuality. So, own it and get it into an emotion besides anger.If they do start with something like ”I can’t believe you did that!”. You can own it and give them more information that gets deeper into the why and past the action.  ”I did it and if you get another roommate I’ll do it again. You deserve to be alone” It still sounds like a fight, but you have added an emotional element and some context that can be the key to escape the trap.  If you start to feel it emotionally (that they deserve to be alone) then you can get past to conflict to the cause of the friction.  That’s what is interesting.  Psychologists are not paid (in theory) to listen to you bitch, are there to help you figure out why you are having these issues.  This is how you need to approach a fight scene.  It’s not what the fight is about, but why you are fighting.  It’s not that you cheated on him, but why!So in close, next time you are in a fight scene that you don’t want to be in you can lose or take it emotionally and own it, or you can try to get to the deeper issue of the matter.  These are only 3 ways out of the fight scene.  There are a lot more.  Try to find your own method.Play Hard! Have Fun!

29 Responses to “You don’t have to ‘fight for your right’ to Improv.”

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