Technically, this isn’t a question. But I think I get what you’re asking.
I would always rather watch a scene that was truly terrible because someone took a big chance and struck out than a scene that is middling because everyone on stage was unwilling to take a chance. At least the former is interesting.
I can say a lot of the normal improv voodoo stuff like trust your instincts, follow the fun etc, etc, but I don’t find those phrases to be particularly actionable as notes. So my advice would just be to make A move. My guess would be that you freeze up because you’re desperately trying to figure out what “THE move” to make is… the one move that’s the “right move.” And the 1st step towards getting rid of that fear is just making A move, any move. There is no such thing as the “right move.” Just moves that work and moves that don’t.
I hate the phrase “There are no mistakes in improv” because we all know that’s not true. If it was, there wouldn’t be bad improv. But what you CAN take from that idea is that you shouldn’t be afraid of mistakes… especially if you’re at a point where you’re still learning and figuring out what kind of improviser you’ll be. If you make decisions in your scene, you’ll be fine. DECIDE what you think the game is, DECIDE how you’re going to play it and DECIDE to make a move to achieve that. That’s really all there is to it. The worst case scenario is that you’re on a different page than the rest of your group, but if you’re really listening, the chances of that are slim. In your next show, have the goal of making decisions at every possible opportunity and then acting on them, and see if that gets you off that backline and into more scenes, good or bad.
Or, maybe you’re just super lazy!
Another great post: 1) Make A move. 2) Don’t be afraid of mistakes.
Hopefully my students have heard me say these things a lot. I know I say the first one a lot and I suspect I need to say the second one more.
When I am on stage, I want to listen [very] intensely, but I always panic or worry. Is this just something you get better at over time? Or are there exercises to actively work on listening?
(I got this anonymous question that I wanted to answer, but I also trimmed down the question a bit. Hence it appearing as a quote, because Tumblr definitely didn’t want me to be able to alter his or her initial message.)
Panic and worry on stage are dealt with mainly just by performing a ton. That’s just getting your reps in. I wish I had a good shortcut for that, but I don’t. And mileage may vary. Some people just become accustomed to it right away, some take hours and hours and hours of stage time before they even start to be able to calm down enough to really be present in a scene.
It helps me sometimes to remember that to truly actively listen, I need to listen to two different things: 1: what the character is saying and 2: what the improviser is saying. Because, often, there is different crucial information in both and you need to hear and absorb both to get the full scope of what’s going on in the scene. The easy example is, if my scene partner says “Don’t push that button”, I know that her character actively does not want me to push that button, but she, the improviser, is saying “Push it and lets see where the scene goes from there.” But it can be more subtle than that… make sure next time you perform to think about that… listening to both levels of the scene. If you’re consciously aware of doing it, it might make it a bit easier.
Also, most people who struggle with really close listening also tend to play fast… so slow down. Don’t fear silence, don’t fear pauses, and don’t worry if the audience is watching you process something, as long as your character is processing it too. Then, you get to really go over what was just said AND look like you’re a great actor! Win/win!
Lastly, you know what the trick is for making it seem like you’re a great listener in a scene? Just responding with your honest response. The literal first thing you thought of when your scene partner spoke. Easier said than done, I know. But 9 times out of 10, that will get you way further in the scene. If you find you can’t do that, make sure it’s not because you’re busy thinking about what to say next rather than listening while your scene partner is speaking.
another great question & answer from Alex Fernie.
so many good points that I find myself saying over and over again. Don’t be afraid of silence. Listen to the scene, not just the dialogue and the last part is huge. If you are thinking of what to say next instead of listening (to everything - words, actions, emotions) you are making it harder on yourself.