IMPROV 101| YES, AND! | Generosity Impulse

by Johanna Bundon

Last blog we explored saying “YES” and the role that acceptance plays in improvisation. Saying “YES” is the foundation of improvisation. It opens up the possibility of working with other people, hearing new ideas and ultimately accepting offers. This week, let’s take that idea a little further.

When we say “YES”, we are accepting the offer that is being given. When we say “YES, AND” we are accepting, then advancing the offer that is made. Consider the difference in this example:

“Do you want a cup of coffee?”

Yes.”

 Or

 “Do you want a cup of coffee?”

Yes. And would you like to join me?”

The second example launches the dialogue into a relationship wherein now two people are now going to share time, space and a common activity.

Through the Heritage Improv Project (HIP), we are meeting with community partners to explore our ability to say “YES, AND”. One of the strategies we use to train this skill of accepting and advancing, is to play simple games that use sound & action.

Here is an example:
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 Person A– offers a sound & action to Person B.

 Person B repeats the same sound & action, passing it on to Person C.

This time with slightly more energy (volume, precision, expression) than the initial offer.

 Person C plays the sound & action forward to a Person D.

 With each pass of the sound & action, the energy in the game increases!
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This is the bare bones example of “YES, AND”.

It demonstrates the acceptance of an idea and the advancement of that idea. As a general rule, we encourage improvisers to infuse the action with more energy than was initially offered. This implies an edge of generosity in every action. This constant infusion of generosity assures that the game continues to build in excitement and participation – which makes it really fun! 

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