“I’m afraid you’re going to have to clear the hall,” he said, “It’s a medical emergency.”
Lots of kids are milling around drinking soda and chasing one another. Suddenly, a portable stereo starts to blast loud mariachi music. The colorful fabric has formed a wall now. It shakes a little when the person behind it holding it up turns their head to look behind them. Someone walks by and says, “This is the same thing that happened during her last miscarriage.”
A square of cloth falls. Two white shirted paramedics are loading someone onto a gurney. The elevator is broken and they are going to have to carry her down the four flights of stairs. The mariachi music gets louder and happier. I can only imagine what the sound is that they’re drowning out.
But, the way the world is set up, it quickly becomes none of my business and I turn my attention back to class. I am shocked at myself for the lack of emotion the whole scene inspires in me. Instead, I am limited to an appreciation of the surrealism of all of the elements of the situation when they come together.
Obviously, most of Johnstone’s points are either so simple that to write about them would be to just type the same thing over and over again, or so complex that they can only be communicated through experience and direct contact. So, here are some notes, I have tried to cut out repetition, but I’m sure a bit will sneak through.
You should be as obvious as possible. At its heart, your obviousness is unique because it is only obvious to you. In Kafka’s story the Metamorphosis, it is obvious that the character would wake up as a cockroach, because that is how Kafka felt. But, that is not what is obvious to everyone, so it appears creative. You are the only one that thinks you are being obvious.
Sword fighting is improvisation. If you stop to consider what your next move will be in a swordfight, you’ll finish your thought as your head rolls down the temple steps.
Anyone trying to do their best is disconnected from everyone else. Trying to do your best makes you less fun to watch and less fun to perform with.
Point of an hour tonight: GET RID OF FEAR.
Scared people think verbally.
Tilt is A solution to scene, not THE solution.
The audience gets great pleasure from the obvious. If you run into a frog with a bible in the forest, he should be on his way to bible class not to go to an amusement park.
Audiences love to watch people fail and then succeed. If you fail three times, when you finally succeed, the audience will be behind you with loud applause. All audiences want to be there on the night when everything goes wrong. If you can fail well enough and cheerfully enough.
When asking for suggestions, ask for suggestions that inspire you. That way, if you get proctologist for the 800th times, you can say that it doesn’t inspire you.
If two improvisers are in trouble in a scene. (Trouble in the sense of being in a seemingly inescapable situation.) One of the improvisers should say, “I know just what to do” and then say whatever is in his head no matter how stupid. Audiences will love you for your courage.
The audience loves courageous, humble and good-natured people because they are so rare.
Definitions before problems.
Every decision you make in a scene defines the circle that scene exists in. You should make choices from within that ever-tighter circle and rarely from outside it. Obvious is good.
A mouse with a machine gun would probably shoot you in the ankle, not the stomach.
Nothing that human beings do is accidental.
Fearless performers always point toward the audience when giving directions. If they have cupboards, they face the audience when they open them.
Never cross your legs away from the audience.
Sound can drive a character.
To go down in status, touch your face a lot. Look at someone, then look away, then look back quickly.
To go up in status hold your head still when you talk and look people in the eye.
You don’t need a specific solution to a problem; you need to know where to look for the solution.