Yes and is a phrase used to describe the most fundamental practice in improvisation. Yes and means you accept an offer and do something with it. And remember from last week’s class that “everything is an offer even a so called mistake. Not accepting an idea is refered to as a “block” in improv. To illustrate this we played a game called Yes and vs. Yes but. In this game players pair up and plan anything like a road trip or a party. In the first round each participant starts their sentence with “yes but” and a reason why the other person’s idea is not a good idea. In the next round each participant starts their sentence with “yes and” – accepting their partner’s idea and building on it. The difference between accepting and blocking are very evident when you play this game. Blocking results in negative energy and competition that gets stuck in disagreement while accepting leads to positive energy and collaboration that leads to possibility and flow.
The next game we played was Gifts. In this game participants give each other a physical offer in the form of an imaginary gift. The receiver then accepts the gift with appreciation and builds on the offer by saying what it is. By naming the gift, the participant accepts the physical offer by justifying its shape and weight. We also played a game called “blind offers” in which one participant makes a physical offer and then another participant makes sense of the physical movement by saying something.
We ended the class with a game called “One Word Story”. In this game all the players tell a story by adding one word at a time. This is a very difficult game and often the stories that are created aren’t very satisfactory. It takes time for a group to really flow in this game. At first the players get frustrated with each other and try to control the story somehow. The only way to really succeed in telling a story like this is to be present, listen, let go of your own idea and just accept what your fellow players say before you and build on it. It requires a lot of trust in the rest of the group and in yourself. Just always remember to accept your own and others mistakes and make your partners look good.