How to Discover the Scene in Improve

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door” -Milton Berle (comedian)

In IMPROV, we must discover the scene. If a game has not yet been defined and the characters relate only on a surface level, there are techniques you can use to spice up the scene, giving it depth and eventually locking in game play. One such tool is “History, Philosophy, or Metaphor.” This technique, which should be used during a bland dialogue exchange, is a simple solution to scene doldrums. This tool gives the scene rich details that can open the scene to new discoveries. Let’s explore.

HISTORY, PHILOSOPHY, OR METAPHOR example: “You’re late for work again, Dominique!” That phrase is a gift to Dominique. He or she may accept that gift in a conventional way answering, “I’m sorry, my car just wouldn’t start,” or “My alarm didn’t go off,” or the boss might respond with, “You see, work for me is….” At this point, instead of giving the expected response, he or she would use history, philosophy, or metaphor to explain the comparison in detail (e.g. “Work for me is like a giant sunflower with golden petals that shimmer as they reflect the warm sun overhead off its oversized center, the center the very center that provides the delicious seeds that nourish our bodies. These seeds would never ripen if the sun didn’t shine overhead.”) The more unexpected the metaphor, the greater effect it has on the scene. For history or philosophy, the more out of the ordinary, or even just the more detail-oriented the comparison, the more memorable the scene.

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