Updated: Dec 22, 2020
If you really want to light your scenes on fire and have an insane amount of fun onstage, here’s a little known secret that turns good scenes into great, fun, interesting and meaningful scenes.
The secret is: "Yes" UNTIL you can "and..."
The Rule of "Yes, and..."
Almost every class taught, almost all books and virtually all videos that train improvisers teach the first rule of improv is "Yes, and... "
YES: To "Yes" means that each scene partner is required to embrace the thoughts, ideas, emotions and actions provided by the other as truth. No if’s, and’s or but’s about it. You accept it.
AND: To "and..." means that each performer is responsible to provide meaningful information to the scene that adds flavor and depth to the scene and their scene partner.
This is a fantastic rule! Let me just say up front that I agree.
But I believe there is more to the rule than just "Yessing" and "anding" a scene.
In your scenes, I want to challenge you to focus on your scene partner and agree, agree, agree. Agree and accept all of the reality of the scene. Accept and agree with everything!
"UNTIL you can and..."
Share bits and pieces along the way to keep the scene moving. Then, with the patience of a Venus fly trap, that moment when you see or feel what needs to be said, share with emotion what this particular scene needs.
Let go of the desire to direct the scene and let it unfold in front of you. This one principle has brought me many, many amazing improv scenes.
I encourage you to give it a try. If it works for you, excellent! Now share it with someone else. If it doesn’t work for you, then keep going and find other improv skills and principles that can change your life.