So, February has not been quite as successful as January in terms of my adventure. (I went back and forth for like 5 minutes right there deciding if I should use the word “adventure” or “journey.” I decided on “adventure,” because I think you need to be able to separate yourself from something a bit to see the path you’ve taken before you can call it a “journey.” Plus, “adventure” sounds more fun! “Journey” is too introspective.)
Please don’t mistake – I’m still working on my January resolution (A SECOND improv teacher has now told me that I need to put more of myself in scenes; that I’m a great support, but I need to have stronger self-determined characters. The “and” is imperative.) These monthly goals are cumulative. I’m still trying to “Yes, And” (and this month I’ll still be trying to respect), it’s just that I have a different focus each month. That leads me to this month’s rule:
(Drum roll please!!!)
Make statements. By asking questions, you put a lot of pressure on your partner to come up with something witty. Instead, you can take it as a moment to give your partner a gift, rather than leaving him or her to hang dry as they try to come up with an answer to your vague question. Here’s how I described the rule in my initial explanation of this project: “10) Make statements – Don’t ask questions; decide for yourself. Establish within the first few lines of a scene who the other person is, who you are, what your relationship is, where you are. Give yourselves names. Instead of asking them what the headline of the Sunday paper is, tell them they should read Sunday’s headline story and explain why.”
Consider these two versions of the same scene:
Patrick: Are these yours?
Melissa: I don’t know! I haven’t noticed I was missing any. What size are they?
Patrick: Hmm. I don’t know. (Sad) Why did this have to happen?
Melissa: I’m not sure. What’s wrong?
Patrick: Excuse me, miss. I’m sorry if this comes off a little forward, but I think your underwear got mixed in with my laundry. Are these pink cotton panties your’s?
Melissa: I don’t know! I haven’t noticed I was missing any, but most of mine are pink! Are they a size 6?
Patrick: Ugh! Size 8! They must be my ex-girlfriend’s! I can’t believe that hoe left me for her personal trainer! (Begins weeping.)
(I don’t know where I come up with these scenarios, either. Don’t you wish you were inside my head.) Of course, this example can only be improved so much because these two people don’t have a relationship at the start of the scene (an upcoming rule for a future month: drill deep into relationships. The most quality scenes, and those most enjoyable to watch, are either slice-of-life:this-is-what-we-do-every-day scenes or a this-is-the-day-that-everything-changes-between-us scenes. Unfortunately, if the two characters in the scene don’t know each other, these are both exceedingly challenging.)
But you can see how in the second version of the scene, we know what “this” is. Patrick doesn’t have to guess at what women’s underwear might be sized. Melissa doesn’t have to guess at what Patrick means by “this” when he says “Why did this have to happen?” In the second version, we jam packed a ton of information into 3 lines: these are strangers at a laundromat, Patrick is the type of guy to call a woman “miss”, Melissa is the type of woman who wears pink underwear (whatever that means), Patrick is recovering (or rather, failing to recover) from a break-up with his ex-girlfriend. Notice that even though Melissa still asks a question in the second version, she is really making a statement (“I am a size 6”) in question format. So, by making statements, we can advance the scene and get to the juicy parts much quicker.
Anyhow, shouldn’t you be doing something other than reading my blog right now? (Haha, see what I did there?! I told you to stop wasting time, but in the form of a question!) (Oh, but seriously, please keep reading my blog. 🙂 I like to know that I’m not just writing this for the cyber abyss!)
PS. In case you didn’t get the reference in the title, UrbanDictionary can help you out.