Sympathy is Required

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Sympathy is Required

Postby scott.hearne » April 26th, 2013, 3:08 pm

You must mimic or possess empathy to improvise well. If you wish to perform the best improv, you must exercise sympathy.

Discuss.
"Great improvisers never look worried onstage. It's not that they became great and stopped worrying, they stopped worrying and then became great." - Miles Stroth
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Re: Sympathy is Required

Postby scott.hearne » April 26th, 2013, 3:12 pm

Merriam Webster

Definition of EMPATHY

1: the imaginative projection of a subjective state into an object so that the object appears to be infused with it

2: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also: the capacity for this

Definition of SYMPATHY

1a: an affinity, association, or relationship between persons or things wherein whatever affects one similarly affects the other

b: mutual or parallel susceptibility or a condition brought about by it

c: unity or harmony in action or effect <every part is in complete sympathy with the scheme as a whole — Edwin Benson>

2a: inclination to think or feel alike : emotional or intellectual accord <in sympathy with their goals>

b: feeling of loyalty : tendency to favor or support <republican sympathies>

3a: the act or capacity of entering into or sharing the feelings or interests of another

b: the feeling or mental state brought about by such sensitivity <have sympathy for the poor>

4: the correlation existing between bodies capable of communicating their vibrational energy to one another through some medium
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Re: Sympathy is Required

Postby Spots » April 26th, 2013, 7:09 pm

One thing I passively enjoy about improv is that it serves as a social barrier from sociopaths.


I honestly feel that anyone can do improv. But here's the thing. Someone without those traits you listed will have a limited number of games they can play.


For instance, wouldn't you grow tired of going onstage with someone who bullies you around scene after scene after scene? Make no mistake- an unsympathetic person could perform those scenes extremely well. Just tons of misogynist scenes or whatever.


But who would want to play with that person over time? Again and again?


If you have no empathy you will lack the ability to play a wide variety of games.
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Re: Sympathy is Required

Postby PyroDan » April 27th, 2013, 1:17 am

Empathy is the key to any real communication. Dogs are man's best friend, because they can actually read human facial features enough to empathize and will try and comfort people who are down.

Those souls who enjoy live performance, are open to an emotional experience, and as a performer of any type, utilizing your own understanding of human nature you can manipulate your audience into a desired response. The better you navigate human emotion, the more crazy shit you can do onstage and be successful with.
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Re: Sympathy is Required

Postby scott.hearne » April 28th, 2013, 4:31 pm

Recently, I've been struck by how important empathy and sympathy is for really great improv. It is so important to be able to relate to HOW your scene partner feels. Observing their every little reaction and making an issue of it. Also, to seriously project your own reactions and let them read to the audience. It isn't necessarily big, huge reactions, but reactions. If you are unable to relate to others, improv is extremely difficult and becomes very mean and cruel, very quickly.
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Re: Sympathy is Required

Postby Spots » April 28th, 2013, 7:20 pm

scott.hearne wrote:Also, to seriously project your own reactions and let them read to the audience. It isn't necessarily big, huge reactions, but reactions. If you are unable to relate to others, improv is extremely difficult and becomes very mean and cruel, very quickly.



For a good while I made the mistake of assuming that in a theater setting you have to project theatrically.

This may be true in an enormous proscenium theater - like a Broadway theater or huge night club or whatever. There you'll have to fling your gestures to the back row. Somehow find the right balance of projecting and actually reacting in the moment.

But improv lends itself to intimate spaces.

The more you trust your genuine reactions, the more you will be rewarded by the audience. The fuller the emotional response & weight. Really tap into your empathy and be affected. Get smaller and smaller and smaller in how you react and keep your character in the moment. Compared to pandering to the audience by projecting fake theatrical gestures that the audience will detect as disingenuous.


It works. But it's one of the hardest forms of trust I've come across.
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Re: Sympathy is Required

Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » April 29th, 2013, 3:16 pm

Spots wrote:
scott.hearne wrote:Also, to seriously project your own reactions and let them read to the audience. It isn't necessarily big, huge reactions, but reactions. If you are unable to relate to others, improv is extremely difficult and becomes very mean and cruel, very quickly.



For a good while I made the mistake of assuming that in a theater setting you have to project theatrically.

This may be true in an enormous proscenium theater - like a Broadway theater or huge night club or whatever. There you'll have to fling your gestures to the back row. Somehow find the right balance of projecting and actually reacting in the moment.

But improv lends itself to intimate spaces.

The more you trust your genuine reactions, the more you will be rewarded by the audience. The fuller the emotional response & weight. Really tap into your empathy and be affected. Get smaller and smaller and smaller in how you react and keep your character in the moment. Compared to pandering to the audience by projecting fake theatrical gestures that the audience will detect as disingenuous.


It works. But it's one of the hardest forms of trust I've come across.


the interesting dichotomy for me as an actor is finding that balance, playing intimacy and connection with others onstage while having it "read" to the audience even in the cheap seats. theatricality to me is not about size, but intensity. so I think less about making it "smaller" as narrowing the focus. still the same power, but focused down to a laser. play deep, not broad. the stage itself is almost a natural emotional amplifier. i'm often amazed at how much an audience picks up on. even if they don't catch the subtle gesture or the slight change in facial expression or posture, it creates an energy with your scene partner (who is hopefully doing the same) which composites into a larger picture the audience DOES read. they don't hear the notes, but they hear the symphony. :)
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Re: Sympathy is Required

Postby PyroDan » April 29th, 2013, 3:46 pm

That's a great explanation Jordan. I think that the improv performance crowd, while peppered with trained actors (be it one show in school, or years of stage training) is still revolutionary in getting a great majority of it's numbers from non-theatrically trained performers, so there is a learning curve.

I had training as an actor before improv became a part of my life, so the tedious minutia of performance were already somewhat ingrained. Blocking, projection, planting of feet, finding your light, etc.

I believe that anyone can do improv, that it is not the hardest thing in the world; however, to do good work can be really challenging. To blend all the tangibles of performing with the intangibles of talent, awareness and emotional intelligence takes a great deal of work.

If you are a new improvisor and you have not already done so, please do a straight play. Hone those performance skills in a medium where you are working the material over and over again and have time to focus on projection, gesture and blocking. That way you can focus on the listening and connection in improv.

In an improv class, workshop or show, there is no real time to correct any of those tools effectively.
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http://biglittlecomedy.weebly.com/
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http://www.pdogs.com
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Re: Sympathy is Required

Postby Spots » April 30th, 2013, 12:09 am

Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell wrote:still the same power, but focused down to a laser. play deep, not broad. the stage itself is almost a natural emotional amplifier. i'm often amazed at how much an audience picks up on. even if they don't catch the subtle gesture or the slight change in facial expression or posture, it creates an energy with your scene partner (who is hopefully doing the same) which composites into a larger picture the audience DOES read.



totally. this language is dead on with my beliefs. beautifully put
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