Improvisation requires an open attitude, a sense of playfulness, and a little bit of risk-taking. It also requires a bit of skill. Thankfully, the skills that lead to great improvisation also encourage openness, playfulness, and make those big risks pay off. Because the fundamental principle underpinning improvisation, called ‘Yes, And’, is easy to learn.
The heart of improvisation is the idea of ‘agreement’. ‘Yes, And’ is the way we build completely improvised scenes together; for every idea that an improviser offers in a scene, the other improvisers say YES to that idea, agreeing that it’s true, and then add to it, building directly on what was just offered. This goes back and forth until their ideas reach unexpected heights, exploring unplanned territory that could not have been discovered without each other’s unique contributions.
‘Yes, And’ turns out to be more than just a powerful technique used to make up interesting relationships or stories on stage. ‘Yes, And’ can be applied in any collaborative environment. It provides a structure within which individuals heighten their ability to listen to each other and create breakthrough ideas. Simply, we must listen to what is offered in order to agree with it, and we must react to that thing in order to add to it.
It’s not about being creative, clever, funny, fast, or a ‘natural’ performer. It’s about listening. It can be said that to be great at improvising, you only need to listen and react. Simple. Everyone can learn ‘Yes, And’. Everyone can learn to improvise. ‘Yes, And’ is where we begin our journey, and it is the principle we continually return to as our skills increase and become more sophisticated and subtle.
Welcome to ‘Yes, And’.