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by Darren Held

Do you ever wonder why Darren harps about emotion and commitment so much? It’s not some deep psychological issue he has about sharing feelings or anything. It’s actually quite logical.

I know, weird, right?

In improv, you have 3 minutes to tell a complete story with a beginning, middle, end, relationships, the whole friggin’ nine yards. And you have to come up with all that based on some random suggestion like pineapple.

There isn’t time for the story to build slowly, like in a novel. So if you just start with some spacework and no emotion, the audience and your scene partner have to wait until you speak to have any idea of what your character’s state of mind is. That’s precious seconds wasted. On the other hand, if you start with some spacework and some anger, we don’t have to wait for your words to tell us what you’re feeling, and your partner can make an immediate choice – either she is the reason you’re angry, or she’s angry along with you. Any emotion works, as long as it’s big and clear and you’re committed to it.

Here’s an easy way to remember why emotion is important: emotion = motion. You can’t move the scene forward if you’re neutral, just like your car can’t move if it’s in neutral. It’s, like, science and stuff.

Anyway, as much as I want to believe that my strengths (information/justification) are the most important skills in improv, the truth is, without emotion and commitment there’s no reason for any of the rest of it. So I’ll just say it: Darren’s right.

Wow. That was even more painful than I thought it would be.

By Sonnjea Blackwell

Darren Held
About Darren Held
Darren is the CEO and Creative Director of Held2gether, Improv for LIfe. He has been teaching and performing improv for 15 years, and has performed with H2g, the Groundlings, UCB and Second City. He loves Moto, red wine, and Madonna.

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