It’s our end of school graduation play, at the Grand Theatre. In a few moments, our parents, grandparents, great grandparents, aunties and uncles will be looking lovingly down onto our stage from the vast golden auditorium. This is our one night only show, depicting our formal graduation from school; where we supposedly show what we have learnt and display who we have become.
Our class of 2020/2021 are all backstage, but there is a problem. While upfront the stage, lights and cameras are set, backstage there are two things notably missing, our script and drama teacher. We don’t know what we have to do.
Theoretically, we have been working towards this performance all our school lives. However, we have been too focused on passing exams to read the script and or listen properly to the drama teacher.
The backstage Three minute warning bell rings . . . before the show starts. The collective cry of our class is “What do we do?”
The good news is, we all know our characters, our costumes and makeup are perfect, and the stage set and our props are brilliant. But the bad news is, we don’t know what to say or who is doing what, when.
The back stage One minute call bell rings . . .
What do we do?
Option A - Do anything and not go out. But given this is an Epitaph of our years in education, depicting what we have supposedly learned and showing the world what we are really like, this option is not favourable.
Option B - Given we have no script or drama teacher to guide us, and no time to write a play of our own, is to turn this one into an Improv play, by working with what we have; characters, props and stage set. . . and starting with the play’s title which is ‘Life-ing. Improv theatre, requires a great deal of creativity, team-working and courage. It will be spontaneous, and messy at times, and the exact outcome will be unknown, just like ‘Life-ing itself, so it will be apt. Regardless of the outcome, we will learn from our experience, so it will be a fitting accolade to our years in education at Earth School. Here are the rules for improvisation theatre (and surviving 2020/2021).
The How to Rules of Improvisation (Surviving 2020/2021)
- "Yes, And" Rule - If a person you're working with has an idea, build upon what they have created. Do not deny the scenario they have set up, this would discredit the person and cause tension, just go with it. The ‘Yes’, means you accept the idea, and the ‘And’ means you can add and build on the idea.
- The Positivity Rule – it’s good to start scenes on a positive note, as there are many more directions for the scene to go.
- Teamwork - collaboration is the key to successful improvisation. Everyone in the scene must work together and support one another, otherwise the scene will not work. Embrace each other's ideas, give everyone a chance to shine, and give each other opportunities to enhance the scene; utilising all the stage and props too. If everyone wants the best for the scene, rather than themselves, they'll be more willing to share the spotlight and let each character shine.
- Partnering - it's important to learn how to work well with others. When you're working with a partner, both of you should get the same amount of shine.
The back stage Final call bell rings . . . It’s decision time. What shall we do? Do nothing, or do we have the courage to play full out improvisation and do ourselves proud? What do you choose?
Focus on the overall scene as opposed to your role in the scene. If everyone wants what's best for the scene, they'll be more willing to share the spotlight and let each character have their shine [Dan Klein an improvisation expert and coach at the Stanford University]