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by Darren Held

No, I didn’t forget I work here. In between crying about Tax Guy Day and doing an obnoxious amount of manual labor to get our new class space at EXPO ready for all the H2G improv classes that start next week, I haven’t had time to sit still long enough to write a post.

Sometimes it’s hard even for me, the Queen of Information, to think of things to say. No one who knows me will believe that, since I can ramble on for 15 minutes about a hangnail. But it’s true, and sometimes I feel at a loss when it comes to writing these blog posts.

Luckily, when I feel this way usually something in life occurs to trigger a thought that I can share with you for 500 words, give or take. But sometimes, nothing triggers any thoughts at all. Like now.

And guess what? Sometimes it’s like that in improv, too. Your partner may label you like there’s no tomorrow, you might have a crystal clear relationship and have an obvious “what” in the scene. And yet, your brain gives you zilch. Oh my god! What do you do?!?

I don’t want to alarm you, but if you do improv long enough (“long enough” in this case means more than, um, 20 minutes or so), your brain will fail you. So you have to have a contingency plan that does not include panic. Panic will only cause your brain to lock up even more, which in turn leads to more panic and… well, I think you see where I’m going with this.

Your contingency plan should instead include:

  1. take a deep breath
  2. make eye contact with your scene partner
  3. remember that silence in scenes is a GOOD thing
  4. take another deep breath
  5. have an emotional reaction

That emotional reaction can be anything as long as it’s BIG. Cry, stomp your feet, scream, laugh and dance about, whatever. If you still have nothing in your brain, that emotional change will give your scene partner something to work with. But chances are, by having the emotion, the information to justify it will be right on its heels. There’s something magical about just being committed to an emotion that helps you find the justification for it.

And there you have it! You’ve unlocked your brain, the scene has moved forward and everyone lives happily ever after. You’re welcome.

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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