Space Object Work in 2 simple rules

water glass

I've listen to the words coming out of my mouth again and again and each time a student listens and adjusts, the class has an audible reaction of delight. It's plain to see from the outside and difficult to create as a habit. Space object work is the improv term for creating the world, set, props, and environment for the scene. Since we don't use props, it means we have complete freedom to use anything in our imagination. The problem is we need to communicate that to the audience.There are plenty of subtle nuances in this work. You can study mime, clowning, even yoga would be helpful. But if you boil it down to two simple ideas that handle 80% of the workload, then for me those are:

  1. Leave space in your hands
  2. Go slow

When you touch, move, or interact with objects it's often using your hands. There is a reason that oposable thumb sets us apart. Leaving space for the handle, glass, mouse, etc in your hand looks real as opposed to a closed fist.

If you pair that with slowing down to give us time to see the details, you give the appearance of real objects. It feels much too slow, but stage time moves much faster than real time especially for newer performers.

The key test is to practice with real objects - pick up a glass and take a drink, then try it with space objects. If you use a real glass the way most improvisers drink in a scene - you'll end up all wet.