“Karen, just follow your foot.”
I keep telling myself that.
Ready, set, go = yes.
Yes is a small word. Yes is a simple word. Yes is a complex word. Yes is huge. Yes is powerful beyond measure.
The expression of yes, reeks of vulnerability. It permits us to accept a risk, invite an adventure, and more. The “more” is every positive outcome possible, including negative counterpoints. When yes equates to maybe, our actions fetid with hesitation, evidenced by confused reactions and underwhelming blah feelings. Conversely, when yes is declared with surety, we emit overwhelming confidence. Our fragrance is intoxicating, soaked in our essence. Our love of life is on display. Joy ensues.
Why would anyone not want to say yes? And why is this both simple and huge word front of mind this morning? Because through improvisation I am learning that I am naturally a yes person. My instincts are good. My foot compass is strong. Yet, I hesitate to follow my feet and embrace my instincts. “Maybe” is articulated as no. My self- doubts make me murky and unbalanced on my feet. I’ll throw silly obstacles in my scenes. I’ll unnecessarily delay and complicate dialogue. These hurdles of hesitation hurt my fellow players, the audience, and me.
Thankfully, we are both actors and editors. As a student of improvisation, we learn to edit scenes and learn to accept being edited. That’s where feet come in. Feet tell us when to end, to help, to start anew. Players are reliant on fellow players, their feet, instincts and all. Walk off the stage and ending your own scene is prohibited! We can’t end our own scenes. I am probably fudging this, but the rule of thumb to edit is when:
- The scene just reached its climax, so stop it and start anew.
- The scene’s natural ending is imminent or just occurred (the audience has had a good laugh or two).
- The scene needs help, so help a fellow player out and edit with an addition or run across that stage, gracefully or abruptly, and end it.
Funny, how those three rules can be applied to everyday life.
- Because every moment cannot be a climax; do everything in moderation.
- Beginnings begin when endings end.
- There is nothing wrong with asking, accepting, and or receiving help.
We practiced scene work Tuesday night. I was late because I was a poll watcher for Tuesday’s primary election. I missed the earlier warm-up exercises that helped everyone connect with one another. I walked into a pitch black studio, my fellow players splayed throughout. I could not see them, I only heard a cacophony of voices that created the sounds of a swamp. It was delightful. I was never a student of the teacher and I instantly liked him. The lesson was about the use of sound to enhance the scene, to establish an environment, and to support one another without words. Soon I sat in the corner with my eyes closed and yelped and barked like a dog and cupped my hands to mimic fire engine and ambulance sirens. The lesson taught me that sometimes we need to close our eyes to imagine a new environment in order to establish it. I also learned that I needed to dramatize a scene less, and punctuate the point more. And, it came back to the foot.
In improvisation, our foot leads us. Our foot tells us to edit a scene. Our foot tells us to back off from a threat. Or foot tells us to mimic a motion, to dive into a laugh, to jump, dance, and run. Our feet are our external improvisational brains, reacting and queuing us. And it’s our job to follow it or them. And that comes in the form of yes, and wow, our buttoned-up self is no more.
Hearts are our inside compass. Our feet are our pendulum.
- Fearful = backward.
- Frightened = still.
- Fearless = forward.
Even though I am fearful of the future, I’m not too afraid to stay still.
Ready, set, go = yes.
Note: Inspiration abound, fellow blogger Marc from Sorryless suggested to fellow blogger Dale from A Dalectable Life and me to adopt “Buttoned Up” as a future writing prompt. We’ve been horsing around with prompts of rubber and glue, circus monkeys and more. This morning “Buttoned Up” just worked its way into this post, so an intentional prompt it may not have been, I am still going to check it off my list.
Speaking of prompts, my 6 a.m. yin yoga class at Essencia this morning was chock full of them. Conversations this morning yielded:
- the stench of an open heart (Lee)
- reeking of vulnerability (Karen/ me!)
- an autopsy of a divorce (Tammy)
Sure, some of those themes are evident here and will make great material for another day. Happy Friday!