Wednesday, October 05, 2005

About the title...

A few years ago, on a whim, I signed up for improvisation classes at the N.Y. training center of The Second City, a famous theater in Chicago where John Belushi, Bill Murray, and Mike Meyers (and dozens of other film and tv stars) got their start.

A basic improv scene is two people walking onstage without any pre-arranged dialogue, scenery, or character choices. You truly have to work with your scene partner, be open for whatever suggestions might come your way, and respond in a way that will heighten the scene further. The best way that they train new actors to think that way is to emphasize the concept of 'Yes, and...'

If your partner begins the scene by making motions like they're typing at a computer, don't block that choice right off the bat by saying something like "I hear that Michaelangelo is finally going to finish painting that ceiling in the chapel today..."

Wait for them to say something related to what they're doing ("Just a minute while I finish typing out this email to you about why we need to break up..."). Then go with that premise (the 'Yes' part) and add something that will heighten the scene (the 'and...' part). ("Fine. Could you hurry up with my computer, then--I'll need to update my E-Harmony profile with photos of us with your face blacked out...).

So hopefully this scene will be off and running about two extremely callous people who had been dating and seem to need to one-up each other with technology to start and finish relationships. After you practice agreeing and heightening in scene after scene, you start to realize that it's a great idea to try in real life--at work, with friends, in relationships (and in bed...).

And that is the meaning behind, 'Yes, and...'