Make Another Choice
One of my favorite improv games is "Make Another Choice." In this game a team is given suggestions for a scene. As the side coach, at any time during the scene I may ring a bell indicating an improviser needs to make another choice. It could be a verbal choice, or a physical choice. The point being that the line just given was not working. Perhaps the improviser was stuck in her or his head, or perhaps they were trying to move the funny or take over control. Often times the idea wasn't bad, it just wasn't strong enough. I find it great fun to watch an improviser scramble to come up with another idea. The process in itself is funny and the audience laughs along. It usually takes ringing the bell twice to get just the right response. It seems "the third time's the charm." Either the improviser has let go and opened their mind, or the audience anticipation has heightened, but most its likely a combination of both. Through trial and error, a better solution was achieved.
Improv teaches flexibility. You can tell if a scene isn't working. Either you feel it from within or from the audience. In that flash you feel panic, "Oh my gosh, what do I do?" If you don't have a coach with a bell, you're on you own. This is when you rely on your training. First, don't panic. Second, don't go into your head, focus on your partner. Third, give up control and don't over-think, just react with the first thing that comes to you. Don't be afraid to change tracks, obviously the one you're on isn't taking you anyway. Don't take a giant leap with an absurd premise in the hopes something ridiculous will save you. Take the next logical idea that takes you in a different direction. Improvisation is best when grounded in reality. The funny comes when your reality and your scene mates reality, collide. New improvisers think they have to come up with out of this world scenarios to heighten the stakes. This is not true. Work with what you have, focus on "yes, and", accepting what you're given and building on it.
The implication for "make another choice" is easy to see. When you find that it's not working, either a project or a relationship, don't panic or overthink. Stay focused and committed. Work with what you've been given take a different track. It's not failure, it's an adjustment. Not every idea is going to be a winner. Failure will happen. We need trial, error, and teamwork in order to come up with the best solution. It's not the end of the world, just make another choice and keep going.
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