A Commonplace

What is a commonplace?



Mon, 9 Jun 2014 22:43:03

Normal people try to win, no matter how inappropriate the circumstances.

Some quotations from Impro for Storytellers by Keith Johnstone

Our Good Angel

The consciousness that we experience as 'ourselves' is a defence system against the intrusions of other people (why else would so much our inner dialogue be concerned with manipulating their opinion of us), but in life-or-death situations our good angel shoves us aside, slams time into slow motion an does its damnedest to rescue us. If the good angel could operate even when there wasn't an emergency, we'd call this 'inspired.'

5000 Mistakes

The sooner you make 5000 mistakes, the sooner you'll be able to correct them.

Imaginary Tug of War

I ask each student to find a partner. 'Mime picking up a rope,' I say. 'Have a mimed tug of war.' I look out of the window so that they can't scan me for signs of approval, an di hear them strainging and gasping. After thirty seconds I turn back to see that no one has 'lost', but that some of the 'ropes' are getting longer. 'That's enough,' Isay, and grasp the hand of a hefty-looking student so that we can pull against each other in a real tug-o'-war. Afterwards I say, 'How long did that take?' 'About two seconds.' 'So why did the mimed tug-o'-wars last nearly a minute with no winners or losers?' I explain that their thinking applies to the 'real' world where there are palpable ropes, and genuine winners and losers, but that in the world of the stage we swim or sink together The laugh at the lunacy of trying to win a mimed tug-o'-war.

'Every group I've taught behaves like this,' I say. 'Except Zen monks. Normal people try to win, no matter how inappropriate the circumstances.'