(rehearsal notes 4/1/14)

These thoughts all revolve around a series of related problems in improvisation, which can be thought of as problems of getting stuck in one layer of the scene.

Here’s a new version of the preparation language which I recommend using for an improv in the form which I refer to as Classic Form:

I will keep opening myself up to feel each moment more fully and more completely. This will bring me to the next moment in the scene.

This language helps us to keep ourselves receptive to experiencing each moment on more levels and dimensions, with more physical commitment, and with more depth and detail, but without specifying ahead of time what the more levels and dimensions will be.

There are always many, many levels on which each moment can be experienced. Not all of the levels are prominent or important for each moment. Here are just some of the common levels of feeling we use all the time in our improvs:

the rhythm of the moment, and the way speech flows

the size of the energy, whether small, medium, or large

the emotional tone or feeling

the degree of tension or relaxation

the images associated with the moment

the ideas associated with the moment

a sense of a dramatic situation

a sense of being a certain age, gender, or a certain kind of a person

the body sensations of the moment

the tactile, physical, material feeling of the moment

the landscape or setting associated with the moment

and many other possible levels one might experience

To navigate through the scene in Classic Form, one should always want to experience each moment of the scene on as many of these levels as possible. If we are experiencing it on two levels, we should want to add a third. If we are experiencing it on ten levels, we should want eleven.

Note that all of this is done by direct, physical intuition, and not by intellectual analysis. There is no effort to keep track of what the levels are, or how many of them are being used. Of course, during the scene, one would never think consciously “I have the musical level and the texture level, I should add the dramatic situation level.” One would never think “oh great, I just added the level of spatial setting and body sensation.” One would certainly never think “I’m only using two levels, I need to add a third one.” Rather, as our preparation suggests, we are simply trying to experience each moment as fully as we can, and then open ourselves up to feeling it on more and more levels, without ever needing to label, identity, or analyze what the levels are or even what the content is. We just feel it, rather than thinking about it. The goal is to gain new information, so that we can find the next moment in the scene.

The essence of the idea is contained in the phrase feel the moment more fully and more completely We should always want more, and specifically more levels and dimensions of feeling and meaning, as well as the full experience of the levels which we already have. We should want to add and open up additional “feeling centers” in ourself, to add more dimensions to how we experience each moment. We should never simply coast on the very great, ample pleasure of a particular level which we’re enjoying very much, but constantly look for hidden and latent centers of meaning and feeling which are implicit in each moment of the scene, and use our new discoveries in order to find the next moment.