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by Darren Held

By Sonnjea Blackwell

By now most of you know that improv depends on the audience giving the improvisors suggestions. But I’m wondering, rhetorically of course, if you know why we need your suggestions. Ha, you weren’t expecting a quiz on a holiday, were you?

I’ll tell you why. Cuz, you know…

Sure, we could just decide amongst ourselves, “I know! Let’s be at Panda Express!” or “Hey, let’s pretend we’re sisters!” And we could still improvise based on that.

But the thing is, improv is totally interactive. The point is that the audience is an integral part of the performance. When you suggest a Western as a genre of a play (really, are there any other types of plays?) part of the game is to make that work. If you say we’re zombies, we’re zombies.

Sometimes, we have trouble staying with the suggestion. That’s our bad, and we’re sorry. You might tell us we’re at a volcano, and we might say something about the nice volcano scenery and then proceed to have a scene that could have taken place anywhere – my living room, a funeral home or, you know, Panda Express, where most things in the world occur. What we’re supposed to do is have whatever transpires between our characters happen as a result of the suggestion you give us – where we are, who we are or what we’re doing.

An improv guru recently put it this way: The audience has to feel like that scene could not have taken place without their suggestion.

At H2G, we are more than happy to be Western zombies at Panda Express if that’s what you want to see. So start working on your suggestions, cuz we have a First Fridays improv show coming up this Friday at Elise’s Tea Room. And we can’t do it without you!

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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