I’ve begun exploring the idea that to develop an ongoing relationship requires many of the same rules as a successful improvisation in theatre or comedy. Just as a relationship can easily becomes stagnant or worse, by lack of agreement, so too will an improvisational skit languish if an idea isn’t accepted and added upon.
The Improv process (from Wikipedia):
In order for an improvised scene to be successful, the actors involved must work together responsively to define the parameters and action of the scene, in a process of co-creation. With each spoken word or action in the scene, an actor makes an offer, meaning that he or she defines some element of the reality of the scene. This might include giving another character a name, identifying a relationship, location, or using mime to define the physical environment. These activities are also known as endowment. It is the responsibility of the other actors to accept the offers that their fellow performers make; to not do so is known as blocking, or negation, which usually prevents the scene from developing. Some performers may deliberately block (or otherwise break out of character) for comedic effect — this is known as gagging — but this generally prevents the scene from advancing and is frowned upon by many improvisers. Accepting an offer is usually accompanied by adding a new offer, often building on the earlier one; this is a process improvisers refer to as “Yes, And…” and is considered the cornerstone of improvisational technique. Every new piece of information added helps the actors to refine their characters and progress the action of the scene.
The unscripted nature of improv also implies no predetermined knowledge about the props that might be useful in a scene. As with all improv offers, actors are encouraged to respect the validity and continuity of the imaginary environment defined by themselves and their fellow performers; this means, for example, taking care not to walk through the table or “miraculously” survive multiple bullet wounds from another improviser’s gun.
To take this a step further, each time there is a yes, but…the relationship becomes confrontational. Or a direct no become a non-starter. However, a yes, and….allows the conversation to continue and possiblity to expand.
Where can “Yes, and…” ehance your life and your relationships?
With Intent, Susan