Being in Agreement


The essence of improv, business, church, our life; is the ability to be in agreement with one another. It's all about how we get along in community. Whether that community is a scene, our management team, or our congregation, it begins with the first rule of improv. Yes, And.

In improv, the rule of Yes, And says that we must accept whatever our scene partner gives us and then build upon it. An actor cannot deny the reality that has been given her or him. If I say the sky is a lovely shade of orange, my partner cannot come back and say, "No it's not, it's blue." An appropriate response would be, "Yes it is, and that's because God is a Bronco's fan." (That's a joke for my Colorado friends.)

Stephen Colbert, in his introduction to Improvise: Scene From Inside Out by Mick Napier, writes, "Agreement is not really verbal, it's really emotional and that an improv scene is really about following the first thing anyone onstage cares about." I love the feeling on stage when two actors seem to be so connected they are almost like a tuning fork, vibrating on the same wave length. Improv becomes fun when you all click and you know "this is it."

The same is true in life, spiritual improvisers. Whether it's with a loved one or a church member or a co-worker, you know when things start to click. The energy builds and the creativity kicks in and momentum builds with each Yes, And. Now that does not mean, however, you have to agree on everything single item that comes up. That becomes chaos. Synergy happens when you open yourself up to the possibilities. Kelly Leonard and Tom Yorton write in Yes, And,  "With Yes, And, you don't have to act on every idea, but you do have to give every idea a chance to be acted on." Before you can agree and say Yes, And, you have to listen and be open. The foundation of improv is accepting what is, listen to what could be, and work together toward what can be.

Think of ways in which you can begin to live a life of Yes,And. Recognize the situation in which you find yourself, listen to what others bring, and then without judgement, share your thoughts and ideas. Improvisation is not the same as being a stand-up comic. You don't do it by yourself. It's not about you, its about the good of the team. It's about learning to be in agreement.

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