Make Things Worse


“An actor is looking for conflict. Conflict is what creates drama… I am always surprised at how actors try to iron out the conflict that may lurk beneath the surface of the scene, flattening it out instead of heightening it… We are trained as children that the most admirable conduct is that which causes the least trouble, so most of of spend our lives avoiding the conflicts of which drama is made.”

-Michael Shurtleff, “Auditions”


I get knocked for this in improv ALL THE TIME. I’m a fixer. Are we lost? I have a map. Is someone sad? I have their favorite cake. Are the keys missing? I’ve got a spare set.

I rip all the drama out of the scene. In my urge to be polite and nice and kind and friendly (aka likable) I forget this truth- drama is conflict. Not always with each other, no one really wants to watch fight scene after fight scene. And arguing is too easy. But there has to be conflict somewhere. Something needs to go badly, something has to go wrong, someone has to be hurt or scared or SOMETHING. That’s not just where drama comes from, it’s also where humor comes from. More

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