Saying "yes, And..." is fundamental to improv, right? And by some axiom of algebra that I have long since forgotten, that must mean that saying "no" is wrong. I often hear people call it blocking and reserved for bad improvisers. Well, NO.
For years, that was how I thought about blocking. It was how I learned and how I taught. After a while, there is an inevitable conversation about "when it is ok to say the word no?". This has been a struggle for me to answer as a coach because of the infinite number of cases possible in a scene. Until now.
When IS it ok to say no?
Does saying no give [your parter] what they want? - notes from Keith Johnstone
This has led me to a new perspective of blocking that takes away any debate about dialogue, or word choice. It is as simple as asking yourself why you made a choice. Did you know what your partner wanted? Did you give them that?
Blocking happens between actors/improvisers not characters. Did saying no, or anything else you say, delight your partner?
When you watch from the outside, it's easier to see what the players want, than when you are inside the scene. When you workshop, let the group watching stop the action and ask why players made their choices.
What do you think? (leave your comments below)
What are the common ways that you see people "block"? Does it fit this model of actors blocking?