The Protagonist Gets What They Want

The Protagonist Gets What They Want workshop interface graphic

Before I came back to the improvisational comedy community, I spent more than a few nights at karaoke. The parallel for both — whether the singer or the song is your (least) favourite, that scene is over after a few minutes. During that time — the song or scene, the magic occurs when performers lets go of their inhibitions and explores that moment to the fullest — sometimes its an ensemble enjoying the moment together, sometimes they make the crowd part of the journey

“The protagonist is the lightning rod for exploration”

I’ve been asked what the protagonist is “allowed” to do. Sometimes it comes from the mental gymnastics of fitting the “make your partner look good” philosophy into every aspect of improvising together

The protagonist is the lightning rod for exploration of the scene’s themes and perspectives. As an audience, we’re along for the journey to watching them be changed (be “better” people); cheer them as they stay strong against injustice; connect with them as mirrors for our lives; judge them for being more messy than we think of ourselves. We want to embrace fully realized characters even if its a love-hate relationship. We make our stage partners look good when we invest in the moment with them by committing to these characters

The protagonist and antagonist characters are often mirrors of each other; a funhouse mirror most often. Continuing to match intensity, challenge character perspectives and comforts, is a form of making your partner look good

How do we ensure the antagonist is not bullying from the “yes and” pulpit? We discover the protagonist’s want early in the scene. Beyond having a perspective on the world (“fascism is here”), the character’s driving force, their want (“I want to tear down injustice”) fuels the scene. Maybe, by the end of the scene we’ll be rewarded with the discovery of the character’s need (“I accept being part of the change, even if I don’t see the change itself”), but like karaoke, sometimes the moment is over before the impact is fully realized

“Wants — an external solution to an internal wound”

Lewis Jorstad

Sometimes, the question of “allowed” comes from not having experience being the focus of attention or decision-maker in groups. We’ve got you too. In this workshop, our exercises and scenes will prioritize the protagonist discover of their wants. As an ensemble, we’ll support that journey, exploring and teasing out

“The Protagonist Gets What They Want” in-person session happens this weekend (Feb. 4, 3pm-5pm ET) and the virtual session is in two weeks (Feb. 13 6pm-8pm ET – time coverter). I want you to sign up for the session timing that aligns with your want

p.s. Are you looking to practice your antagonism? Stay tuned for the return of the Mindful Menace series later this year

Published by thedukers

Velvet Duke is a Black autistic queer entertainer from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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