I thought about this a lot and came up with too many specific examples, but I think they can all be grouped under two main points…
- The only bad initiation would be setting yourself and your partner up to do a scene you actively dislike and don’t wanna play.
- That initiation where neither performer has anything and stares at one another for about five seconds. Why do we do this so often?!
We could write a textbook called The Don’ts of Initiating, but if you wanna keep your improv easy, just don’t initiate a scene you hate. Almost anything else (even my personal favorite: “Get the eff outta here!”) can be really, really fun.
I’d love to hear some other takes on this question!
I don’t believe there’s any such thing as a bad initiation. Sure, your wording might be clumsy, or stilted, wordy or not wordy. But as long as it reflects a choice that’s been made it’s a usable initiation. The scene needs to start somewhere, the only thing we don’t want is no choice. We want a choice and we want it to be committed to.
On a side note: Identifying an initiation as “bad” is blanket statement that sounds judgmental and really doesn’t provide us anything to work with. If I say I make “bad initiations” there’s no critical information for me to ever get better. Identifying an initiation as wordy or stilted or what-have-you allows me to start identifying qualities I do want, like being concise or naturalistic.
A scene can start anywhere. My personal belief is that it doesn’t really matter how you start a scene. You can start a scene saying nonsense like “Flippity flapjacks!” However that place we just started at now becomes a promise; a contract for what’s going to happen in the rest of the scene. If I do say that nonsense at the beginning of the scene, I’m going to say it at least one more time again in the scene. I’m going to figure out why I said it and what it means. I’m going to hold onto the voice that I used and have fun figuring why I decided to start this scene as an exuberant idiot.
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