Make Another Choice

Improv is all about the choices one makes. When presented with an offer from your scene partner, your job is to make a strong choice that moves the scene forward. It is the basic Yes, and of improv. One's choice should be made using all the information at hand by playing at the top of your intelligence. Playing to the top of your intelligence means  not making the obvious choice but rather make a choice that is honest, real, and not contrived. Improv isn't necessarily just saying the first thing that pops into your head, but the most thoughtful, real thing. There is an improv game called "Make another choice." In this game the moderator observes the scene and at any time may ask a player to "make another choice". The player then has a second chance to come up with a different response to an offer. I play the game with a small school bell. When the improviser hears the ding, they know they may not being playing at the top of their intelligence. It's usually on the second ding where they strike gold. 

This week I am attending my fiftieth high school reunion. Being back in my home town and reminiscing caused me to reflect on the choices I made that have guided my entire life. I was not one of the popular kids in high school. I found my tribe, it was the theater kids. I was at home on stage, but not so much in the halls. At the reunion I got to spend time visiting with classmates that I had a passing friendship with. We knew each other but weren't really friends who hung out. We had fun, we talked, we laughed. Gee, I thought, what if I had made the effort to talk to them in high school. What might have been different? But there wasn't someone monitoring my actions with a bell. No one said, make another choice. Even if there were, would I have listened. 

When some of my friends went off to the university, I said in town at the local Community College. This turned out to be one of my better choices in life. I blossomed in Jr. College. I said yes, and even before I learned the concept. That doesn't mean that I always acted at the top of my intelligence. I was a college student after all. But life is full of choices. A seemingly small choice today can have huge ramifications later in life. Because life is all improv. You may have a plan. You may think you know where you will are going. But you can't control life, you can only respond to what is given you. You make an informed choice, hopefully, acting at the top of your intelligence, and then let life unfold. One mustn't be afraid of failure. The only true failure is not to try. And even when you screw it up big time, and you will, you can still make another choice. 

The skills learned in improv, focus on the moment, be open, accept what comes and build on it, don't fear risk, make your team mates look good, and have fun, are the very skills needed in life. One of my favorite Disney lines comes from Ursula in The Little Mermaid, "Life's full of tough choices, isn't it?" Choices can be easy or tough, the trick is you've got the skills to handle it and make the best decision. And when you screw up, make another choice.



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