Making Strong Choices

 In improvisation we talk about making strong choices. It's about bringing something to the table. When an actor walks on stage with nothing to give, hoping their scene partner will give them an idea, the scene is already off to a dull start. Every time an actor walks on stage they should come on with character and intent. This is true in both improv and scripted plays. An entrance is your first impression. If the entrance is weak, you'll lose the audience.

Making a strong entrance choice involves having an idea of who you are. The audience gives you a suggestion of a location, let's say a funeral parlor. They then give you a suggestion for a relationship, a married couple. You immediately come up with why you think a married couple are in a funeral parlor. For example, you may be picking out your burial plots. So you have an idea of why you are there. Next comes the relationship. You can choose to be a loving couple who wants to be eternally close to each other. Or you could choose to be a couple that bickers constantly and your desire is to have a plot as far away from your spouse as possible. With that little bit of information, you can make a strong entrance. The fun begins when your scene partner has a completely different scenario in their head. They might come on thinking they're at the funeral of an old friend, or possibly, old lover. Both are strong choices and if played out could be hilarious as the actors accept and justify each other's reality. 

The choices you make upon entering are your choices. Don't worry if your partner has the same idea. In real life it is not uncommon for conversations to start from totally different perspectives. The point is not what you bring to the scene, but that you bring something and commit to it fully. 

Another option if you can't think of a specific goal, is to lead with an emotion. If nothing else comes to mind, it makes perfect sense to walk into a funeral home and be in tears. Let the emotions bring forth ideas for the scene. 

In any scene it is important to remember the acronym CROW; Character, Relationship, Objective, and Where. You may not have all three in your head at the entrance, but they all should be in place in the scene by the third piece of dialogue. Don't meander or overthink, may a choice and stick with it. 

It seems that a lot of improvisors don't come on with strong choices because they are afraid it might be wrong. There is no right or wrong in improvisation. Everything is an offer. You may think your offer is stupid or not as good as someone else's, but by committing to it and delivering it with gusto you have made a strong choice. And strong choices are the best gift one can give their scene partner. 

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