What is the Game and why do we want our scene to have one?
The game is a way to talk about the part of a scene that tickles us, entertains us, delights us. We start a scene and we hope that something in the first few lines intrigues us and our audience. Maybe it’s the way our scene partner is behaving, maybe it’s the point of view of our character, maybe is the particular combination of circumstances in the scene. But something catches our attention. It makes us giggle. Once we have it, it’s our job to examine it, clarify it, explore it and heighten it.
Can the game be taught?
Yes. The game can be broken down into a number of skills that any improvisor can learn. At the start of the scene, you can make clear initiations that setup the basics of your situation. You can learn to play your most honest and real reactions to the situations you find yourself in. You can learn to take unusual behavior and frame it for your scene partner, and you can learn how to justify in a way that keeps it weird. And finally, you can learn how to explore and heighten games once you know what it is.
That’s what we do in our Game of the Scene classes at Under the Gun Theater. We break the game down into learnable steps and then practice those steps. We use the only comprehensive book ever written about Game of the Scene, the Upright Citizens Brigade’s Comedy Improvisation Manual as our textbook.
No one in Chicago has more experience teaching the Game, than Kevin Mullaney. When he started studying and performing improv in the 90′s in Chicago, everyone talked about game. It was taught in iO classes and Harold teams were obsessed with it. When the UCB headed to New York, they took their ideas about the Game of the Scene with them and made it the focus of their classes there. Kevin moved to New York in 1999 to be a part of their faculty. He was there for seven years teaching every level in their program. He wrote one of the first drafts of the UCB curriculum and ran their training program as well. Now he is back in Chicago and wants to teach you how this critical concept in improv.
Is this class for everyone?
No. The Game isn’t easy. Some of the concepts are a difficult to get your head around. Once you do understand, it takes a long time to get good at them. And the analytical approach to scene rubs some people the wrong way. Some people misunderstand the game as “being jokey” or “trying too hard to be funny.” They get frustrated because they believe this idea violates what other teachers have taught them.
But if you are not afraid of a challenge and you want to learn the fundamentals of Game of the Scene, a concept that has helped countless improvisors, comedy writers and performers, this class is for you.