Zoom In On Organic Games


Students were taught the 4 Key Lessons for building collaborative improv games on Day One. In subsequent weeks focused one of 4 rubric group games designed to explore the power of each of those key lessons.

At the end of the day – which really is the class showcase – the audience isn’t looking to see a perfectly executed To The Ether game. They don’t know what the hell that is. The rubrics are tools for teaching the players’ tools. All the audience cares about is watching players collaborate in-the-moment to build something together. Players need to follow the ensemble’s moves wherever they go; this is about an ensemble playing their games, not mine.

So now it’s time to put all that’s been learned together in service of Organic Group Games.

Any questions?

“So moves that I might have said were ‘wrong,’ I should just be in a mindset to support that – to make it ‘something’?”

Accept everything. Wherever we go is the ‘right’ direction if we move together. The only way to “save” a scene is to support what’s been laid down, not try to reroute it.

My favorite way to put it all together? From the base of a single Self Contained Emotional Statement, show how an ensemble can follow a progression of choices to various ends.

#1 – Alignment with a change to Empower into a Progression

#2 – Agreement-based Progression

#3 – Pivoting around a Heightened Catalyst

#4 – Taking an Interaction to New Worlds

#5 – Cultivating and Controlling Chaos

We have some tools to focus a shared path forward. Follow wherever you go.

  1. One Self Contained Emotional Statement.
  2. The second player’s choice for how to join – In agreement, Setting a progression, Emotional reacting, or Being disparate – helps inform subsequent players’ choices.
  3. So many places to go leveraging our tools – riding the roller of a shared perspective, cultivating chaos, building up siloes, pivoting a reaction to a new catalyst, establishing split screens through which to heighten an interaction, following sequences through repetition.

Another round of applause for Julia.

And now?

It’s play time. Share it.

Do you. Don’t force-fit anything for me.

Organic is messy. Just follow whatever you see. Try and learn.

Keep it simple. Follow despite sense.

Serve the group by focusing yourself. Accept whatever happens.

Again, it’s going to messy. Find focus by following everything.

Have FUN! Get up and make some noise!! Be originally YOU!!!

“The 2nd and 3rd passes…I felt like we were working better together being weird.”

You got to do You – that second “You” being the “Collective You.”

I will teach you how to notice and heighten patterns in play. But a group that follows whatever it lays down is key.

Player #1 – You have a blank stage. Make A choice. Any choice. (Though you can’t go wrong with a Self Contained Emotional Statement.) At the very least feel.

Player #2 – From all the world of options that the initial choice makes you think of, what do you do? Agree? Set a Progression? React Emotionally? Do Something Disparate?

Player #3 – How does Player 2’s move relate to Player 1’s initiation and how can I honor that relationship? Do I follow its agreement? Do I continue its heightening progression? Do I reset to heighten the interaction or sequence?

As long as the ensemble commits to wherever it goes, there is no “wrong” answer.

The “right” way is found by making your individual choice in honor of the context of whatever came before it.

Listen. Follow. Heighten. Repeat.

And how do you think about ending a game? Why, ideally you as an improviser are NOT looking to end a game; YOU as an improviser are looking to heighten without regard to any shared ending. The audience will tell YOU when to end a sustainable pattern.

But if you do want to end. You feel it’s necessary to throw a progression on its head. You see the context connecting all siloes. You have the perfect bow to tie around all that’s been created. Great!

Just be honest with yourself: Is this a line compelled by my fellow players’ progression? Or is this something I personal think is funny that will give me individual praise?

Serve the Ensemble. Keep the line that’s serving your ego to yourself.

Serve what you see.

That’s Improv As Improv Does Best.

And while that brings us to the end of my write-ups of my first Virtual Patterns & Games class, here are the other links:


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