"Look and Listen to your Stage Partner"
Look after each another.
Your stage partner is the most important person everything you need is there.
Artificially imposing facts on scene doesn’t feel ‘real’
The scene is about the relationship between the characters.
The first principle is: Behave and respond honestly in the moment.
In order to maintain that first principle, you have to be absolutely and singularly present in the moment; bearing in mind you need to know what has happened as well as what is happening in this moment. What is already established has significant on what is happening. Follow this ultimate principle the scene will work emerge. So instead of ‘play the game” and “obey every rule” just be in the moment
Staying in the moment is the most effective way to serve your stage partner and create the best scenes. Stay in the moment and respond honestly. Simply put – ‘look at your partner’ to know what to do. Behave genuinely, respond honestly so your stage partner knows what he or she is to you. You can help your partner by giving emotional emphasis and being more specific with your details. Be clear and slightly more explicit about what you are seeing in them and how they make you feel. Even when you are not in the scene stay attentive to what the others are doing. Even when you are on the ‘back line’ your head is still in the play. If we play with this sense of constant participation you will be much more present and ready for the timely edit or character that’s being called for. You will also build trust; your partner needs to know that you will always be there when they need you.
Listening is more than paying attention to what is said. You listen with all six senses from the moment you come on stage. You have to notice and engage each other’s gestures, energy, tone of expression, and what might be the underlying thought behind the words. The words are only one of clues to help you discover the scene that’s unfolding. Listening in this way is an art, and it’s far more intense than we can sustain in everyday life and it will lead to more honest scenes. Put your energy into paying attention rather than making stuff up, and you will discover everything you need is already there. When we come onto an empty stage we know nothing, our partner is the only source of knowledge so we better pay attention to them. Everything we need is in them. Their face, more specifically their eyes are the first place to look. Do they look kindly, threatening, frightened or confident? Do they seem familiar to you? We have instinctive responses to body language – use them and react truthfully.
How do you know your partner has heard you? Communication doesn’t happen without listening; a message is not delivered until it is received. Looking at them is a good start to knowing if your message has been received. Is there recognition in their eyes? We know someone’s heard when he or she is changed by it. When we genuinely listen we respond, we take in the information and are affected by it.
In a good scripted play nothing is wasted, so you should aspire to miss and forget nothing in improvisation; it may be impossible but you should reach for it nevertheless. Our attention goes and we miss things when we think ahead instead of being present in the moment. Problems arise most often when we miss something. You cannot think your way out of the problem when the problem is generally overthinking; the answer is not to do more thinking, the solution rests in keeping our attention on the other person. And that’s why we listen with all parts and senses to everything happening on stage.
While we are aware of our partner we should also be aware of the messages we’re giving. We have to be aware of what our body, face; eyes are saying as well as how they are being received. Assessing others and ourselves should be in the minds from the moment the lights go up; it’s that moment you begin to learn everything, and we don’t stop learning until the lights go down.
"Play to the top of your intelligence."
Our job on stage is to be attentive and play to the top of our intelligence; in the time we are on stage we should give 100% of ourselves to our partner. There is no benefit in not being at least as smart as you are. Why would you deny bringing your full intelligence to your performance? Sometimes people mistake being dumb for being funny, others believe that they will look foolish if they make mistakes while trying their best; they figure it’s far less scary and acceptable to make a mistake if you’re acting like an idiot. Playing to the top of your intelligence may make you feel vulnerable but do it anyway. It’s this old ‘fear of failure’ thing again. If you are being courageous and fail with grace it’s OK, but remember do it with grace and people won’t laugh at you, but with you – and love you for it