We did this exercise at the drop-in last night. Many thanks to Guy Fletcher for originally teaching it to me, I think he modified it after learning it at The Magnet Theatre in New York, and we modified it further last night, and so the impro feedback loop continues.
It takes a while to get but eventually leads to scenes that are born out of relationships and driven by emotion.
Here's how it goes:
Actor A: "You are [NAME EMOTION]"
Actor B: "I am [THAT EMOTION] and expand the concept of that emotion."
Actor A: "That makes me feel [THEIR EMOTION]"
Actor B: "I always feel like this at [NAME SITUATION, BORN OUT OF THEIR EMOTIONAL DESCRIPTION]"
Actor A: Yes And the situation/where etc
Actor B: We always feel like this when [NAME THE DEEPER RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE TWO]
Actor A: We're not the only one's...[NAME A METAPHOR TO OTHER PEOPLE, REFLECT ALL HUMANITY]
Play the scene, with this relationship established and driven by these emotions.
Actor A: You are domineering
Actor B: I am domineering, I'm like a God walking among men
Actor A: That makes me feel nervous
Actor B: I always feel like this when I leave my palace and walk among my peasants
Actor A: Yes and thank you King Arthur for gracing us with your presence at my farm
Actor B: We always feel like this when a powerful being comes down among us
Actor A: We're not the only ones, people for centuries have feared the wrath of God
Actor B: Indeed, now get me some turnips, I demand turnips for the King's pot
Actor A: Of course sire, here are my prize turnips
Actor B: Whatttt?? Only six? Why I have 25 at my palace!
Actor A: I'm sorry sire, please don't hit me!
Actor B: I shall hit you, with this stick!
First Off Stage Actor: (booming) Stop right there King Arthur!
Actor B: Whattt? Who is this?
First Off Stage Actor: (booming) This is the wrath of God! Well, I am God, and this is my wrath!
Actor B: (nervous) But where are you?
First Off Stage Actor: (booming) I am down there with you. Do not hit your peasant with a stick.
Actor B: (nervous) Of course, you're down here, you're everywhere, your omnipotent. (hits himself with the stick). Ah! You hit me with a stick!
First Off Stage Actor: (booming) I am the stick! Now clear off!
Second Off Stage Actor: (shrieking) God!!!!
First Off Stage Actor: (nervous) Mother?
Second Off Stage Actor: (shrieking) Are you mucking about with them humans again?
First Off Stage Actor: (nervous) Sorry Mother!
Second Off Stage Actor: (shrieking) Take that you little bastard! (hits him)
Peasant looks on confused
So as you can see the setting, situation and game can be picked out of the relationship and emotions. The spotting and naming of other people's emotions is a very Meisner technique thing to do by the way.
Next workshop is on Status this Saturday at The Bedford in Balham, 11am - 5pm, 77 Bedford Hill, Balham, SW12 9BS.
Improv Classes every Monday, Thursday and Saturday in London