I'm not saying you CAN'T start a scene in negativity and deprivation. I'm just saying that it's harder... and I'm a lazy improviser. You'd be setting up existential challenges for your audience before you even start the scene.
They'll be asking...
If they hate it here, why don't they leave?
If they hate this activity why don't they stop
If they hate that person, why don't they just tell them to fuck off?
Most importantly... Why the hell am I watching this scene?
Positivity and abundance answers those questions with just a few words and lets you explore deeper themes that the scene can eventually be about. The same thing goes for the location, the activity and the price of a newspaper. If you don't have money for a newspaper in a scene, well... we've seen that before. It was called The Great Recession and it sucked. As an improv choice it blocks the possibilities of what you might find IN the newspaper.
Negativity and deprivation at the top of a scene blocks all the delicious possibilities that the scene could be about and just makes it about the price of a newspaper.
Does this mean we're all happy improvisers and our scenes are all happiness and unicorns?
You follow the scene wherever it takes you. But the audience is more interested in the journey the characters take if they start out liking each other, (they're instantly invested and rooting for them), and then things go wrong... miscommunications, a falling out. They end up hating each other. That's a tragedy. I care about that. If they end up liking each other again by the end, more the better!
We've gone on a journey and learned something about each other.
Finally, if you find yourself flailing in the scene, try re-setting your dial to positivity.
Take a breath and look at the scene-so-far with fresh, positive eyes. Maybe you can see your scene partner's point of view. If you can have a change of heart, if YOU can change... that's called "character arc" and it's how good scenes become great scenes.
So, here's a checklist for when you’re starting your next scene;
Know and like the person you are with.
Want to be in the location you are in.
Be good at your activity.
Re-set your dial to positivity.
Start with an active and positive frame of mind and follow the scene where ever it takes you.
Try it out and tell me how it goes,
And while you're at it... buy my book on Amazon
Scotty Watson & Illustrated by Jacqui Lempert
In the meantime, don't sit around wondering,
"Would I be good at Improv?" FIND OUT! Go out & improvise.
Take a FREE improv class!
The theatre company I work with is called Artistic New Directions ... nicknamed
ANDtheatre has a #FREEIMPROVCLASS in #NYC every week!
I teach there, along with a group of phenomenally talented improv teachers. Click the link or go to https://andtheatrecompany.org/and-wednesdays/