Tag Archives: Keith Johnstone

Blocking. (Making Things Happen #1)

“You block when you want to stay in control.”
(Johnstone, 1999: p101)

Blocking, in the end, is saying no. Your partner makes a suggestion. You say no. That’s pretty much it.

“Hey, we’re in an airplane!”
“No we’re not.”

Righty ho then. Good scene.

There’s a couple of things here. The first and uppermost has to be trust. Putting an idea out there is a risk. It’s an act of courage. If you read the Tuesday Group class rules you’ll see that one of the number one ways you can get yourself removed from a class is to sneer at other people. Not because we’re all fragile cupcakes, but because we know from hard experience that that crushes creativity. People shut down, their enthusiasm turns to anger and you’ve lost the group.

So why would people do it? A lot of people do seem to take a sense of accomplishment from spotting the problem. I’m afraid there are people who take pleasure in putting other people down. It’s a status thing for them I suspect. If I can make you back down I’ve won. Something.

Another is the fear of endings. People seem to dislike endings.

And another is the compulsion to be the cleverest thing in the room. If you meet a pixie on your travels who asks if they can come home with you then why not take the pixie home? A lot of students don’t think that that’s clever enough. They seem to think it won’t impress, so they tie themselves in knots trying to think of something clever.

Just take the damned pixie home.

Keith has an exercise where two people block each other. It’s not enough to ignore, you have to actively shoot the other person’s ideas down. It is fascinating to watch the mood of the exercise shift from joyful to resentful. It’s a bad idea to end that one without feedback and rebalancing.

Notes for Ged:

Both Block (two worlds). Players both inhabit different worlds
First to block loses
Remove the blocks
Block Tick – first to block gets replaced
“Sounds good to me” limit one actor’s responses to positive acceptances
One blocks / one accepts
Accept but make negative offers
It’s Tuesday – over accept offers.
“The Eyes” – 2 person drawing exercise. Koppett does this with a letter at a time caption.

Making Things Happen

I’ve been meaning to do this for ages. We’re going to look at chapter six of the mighty “Impro for Storytellers” by Keith Johnstone: “Making things happen”, as it’s the best basic toolkit I’m aware of to give a starting improvisor.

Johnstone identifies seventeen different things an improvisor can do to make life difficult for themselves. We’re going to look at all of them. As this would make for an insanely long post, we’ll break them up. One post each. Onto the first: