If you're a first time visitor to the iQuantum Blog, please refer to the "Foundations of Quantum Improv" to give you an appropriate background to the philosophies and strategies discussed here. #1 What is Quantum Improv #2 More Quantum Background #3 Newton's Second Law of Motion

If you've missed one or more entries in the series:
ReV Up Your Improv Scenes
you can now easily access each and every part.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

To Question or Not To Question
That is the Question. Isn't it?

Questions Are Bad in improv, Right?

Yes. I mean no. I mean, what’s the question? By that, I mean it depends. What’s the question? I spend a great deal of time encouraging improvisers to avoid questions. Why do I do that? - It’s a sure way to get some specific information from your scene partner into the scene, isn't it? That is true. The problem is, too many times the scene partner doesn’t do that – offer specific information. Three things can happen when you ask a question: 1. You might get a specific answer. 2. You might get a nothing answer, where no new information is revealed – a neutral or passive answer. 3. You might get a question as the response. With your question you have a greater than 60% chance that no new or specific information will be revealed. In actuality, choice number one is not in my experience played one third of the time as it should, so statistically there is more than 60% chance no new information will be revealed.

If, however, you avoid a question and make a statement, which reveals new information, there is 100% chance that new information will have been revealed. That’s a much better ratio. It guarantees that the scene will move forward from that moment rather decreasing that chance to 20% or 30%.
My point is, why ask a question that requires (or hopes) that new or specific information will be revealed when you can be the one to reveal new or specific information?

The one exception in my mind is if the question in part reveals new or specific information. As an example – "What are you doing?" Is an open ended question that leaves the scene stalled from progression until the scene partner fills in the blank and makes a specific choice. “What are you doing with that can of dog food?” – has offered some specificity to the scene and now allows the scene partner to fill in more information. This in my opinion is the ideal because it relies on and benefits from both participants while building and discovering and revealing the information that will help this scene move forward.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Living in Denial

I often get into a discussion with improv students over denial in scenes. The conversation (argument?) usually circles around to "I'm creating conflict!" Conflict is all well and good for the improviser but I like to encourage improvisers that to create conflict does not mean that you take the opposite side, view or perspective at the first opportunity while building a scene. That will just lead to an argument and rarely lends itself to building. "Let's build something before we knock it down," I coach. Isn't it more fun and interesting to knock down a sand castle after the turrets, drawbridge, moat and keep have been built than just after the foundation has been smoothed out?

I am, however, a fan of denial in scenes. Does that sound contradictory? Of course. (Unfortunately, improv is full of contradictions). Let me explain what I mean. I believe there are two distinct levels of potential denial at work and I think it is important for the improviser to know this distinction and to be able to work it to their benefit.  I believe it is possible to deny the accusation or premise a fellow improviser sets up while accepting the underlying truth or reality of the premise or accusation. For example, if the offer from one improviser is an accusation such as "You drink too much," it is fine for the other improviser to insist "I do NOT," so long as the other improviser accepts the underlying premise that they drink too much. This can be further developed as the scene progresses in how the second improviser acts and speaks. Perhaps the second improvisers insists further - "you always make such infuriating accusations! I need a drink!" Or better yet, the second improviser pantomimes making a stiff one while saying so, followed by "can I get you something?"

Denial is part of the fabric of life and the human condition. So we play that. It is not, however, a part of the fabric of improvisation (in its true 'yes, and' form).

Let your character deny, but let the improviser take it on!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Quantum Improv Back in Session

A new session of Quantum Improv begins this weekend, October 23rd at SAK Comedy Lab. Looking forward to moving forward with Quantum Improv and the Quantum Vision. The class filled to capacity in just 2 hours - very exciting. As the class start approaches I realize I feel like a little kid going back to an old toy box as I feverishly try to remember where I put all the pieces and materials for the Laws of Motion demonstration.
My handy visual aid (I'm now recalling in the 11th hour) takes a good bit of time to set up - and I'm still looking for ways to streamline the process and the demo so it can pack up easier as well as travel more easily. I can't wait to get back into it. I'll be doing a more condensed version this time around to make sure we get done with the class well before the Christmas holiday rush of things begins. This will be a 6 week course.