Last week, Superlative hosted its first open jam. About twenty-five people showed up, fourteen of them played, and everyone had a good time. Many thanks to Division Street Grill in Peekskill who opened their space and their bar to us that night.
The format we followed was simple: Every single person who signed up was guaranteed to be in a two-person scene. I believe two-person scenes are like the atom of improv; it’s the simplest unit and everything can be built up from it. Being so simple, anyone can play a two-person scene. Plus, it has the added bonus of giving a definite, assured spotlight to a participant, something that they might not get in a large group performance. Each scene was given a basic input, the suggestion of an occupation, a place, or a relationship—easy things anyone can key into.
We are, of course, a theater dedicated to all kinds of improv, and the includes long form. Players were split into two instant teams and created a montage of scenes based off of a single word. I enjoy using an ask-for like “What is a word that is beautiful to you,” or “a word that makes you feel smart,” because those questions often generate evocative multi-syllabic responses. For the long form, we made sure to explain how to indicate the end of scenes with a “sweep edit:” a semi-circle path jogged in front of the scene.
Prior to the improvisations, we explained that the Superlative is a safe and supportive zone. That means we respect people’s bodies and boundaries and we avoid “touching the bikini area.” That is, perhaps, a G-rated way of saying something important, but it is clear and it works.
The evening was rounded out by a game of Improv Freeze Tag. This is just a fun way to end an improv show, because the game lends itself to fast and funny moments. Finding a great joke to end the game on is a surefire way to end the show on a high note, leaving everyone in a good mood!
We’ll be holding another jam in late October, and I hope to see you there!