Improv Toolbox: Effort and Energy in Your Scenes
There are several elements that help make an improv scene come to life. Often students and performers are told what isn't working in their scenes. While that can be helpful, having the vocabulary, tools, and understanding of what does make improv work is the key to unlocking a deeper understanding and growing as an improviser.
Feedback on what is working in your scenes is something I bring to my classrooms and workshops. There are several ingredients that make up a successful improv scene including the dynamic duo of energy and effort!
Effort is the work you are willing to put into the craft of improv. It's about showing up to class, rehearsal, and shows. Showing up when you have a lot to do, showing up when you are tired, showing up even when you are in a rut. You show up over and over and over again. It takes effort to get good at anything, improv is no different.
Thing is, you can show up and still feel as if you are stuck, not moving forward, or even perhaps sliding backward.
That's where energy comes in. The type of energy can make a big difference in your improv journey. Energy that focuses on a positive mindset, a willingness to fail forward, and keeping an open mind. Having energy that says you want to be there in the room with fellow students or teammates. That you are excited about what you will discover together. That there is an intention in your decisions.
Energy is vitally important when it comes to performing. Having the type of energy that says, meh, isn't going to get the audience to join you on a discovery of what's about to happen together. Energy that reads as a lack of self-confidence puts the audience in a place of worry for you and if they are worrying then they become disengaged. A disengaged audience is a nightmare for any improviser.
The audience wants to see you succeed. They love the idea of people getting up in front of them not knowing what's going to happen and together finding the funny and exploration of the human condition together. To do that, you need energy and effort.
There are many elements beyond these two pieces that make improv successful. However, these are two essential elements. So the next time you find yourself asking, "Is there anything missing from my improv?" take a look at see if it's the dynamic duo of effort and energy.