I remember my first year of high school drama vividly. I had been waiting for months and months to get to that first class and finally play at school. I’d been performing for years anyway, but drama at high school meant bringing my big passion alive in front of my new(ish) peers, and I was excited.
The first thing we looked at was improvisation and theatresports. Our teacher took us through the basics and also taught us some of the terminology that you could come across while playing games like Spacejump, Death In A Minute and What Are You Doing. Things like offering, wimping (not committing to an idea or suggestion) and, of course blocking.
The latter was the big one, the one that is so tempting for newcomers and so destructive. Blocking means saying no, and almost anyone who has done improvisation knows that NO sends spontaneity running out the door. Yes, on the other hand, is a golden word.
There is even a game used to teach people to say yes: Yes, Let’s. Someone suggests doing something, the other person/s all say “Yes, let’s” and act it out. It’s one of the most simple games, but it’s effective for demonstrating the destructive nature of “NO”.
I quickly became a Yes-er in theatresports and realised how fun it is, because you never really know what you’re getting yourself into. Years later, the perfect example of this came out in the form of the Jim Carrey movie Yes Man.
I’ve never been the hugest Carrey fan, but I loved the concept behind Yes Man (based on a book by Danny Wallace). The idea of applying the “yes” principle I knew from improvisation to real life was incredibly appealing and amusing but something I never really committed to because I found a million (convenient) excuses not to say “yes” when new situations arose.
Until now. I’ve decided February is my Yes Month. So far I’ve been part of a live audience for a popular Aussie game show, auditioned for things I never would have gone for before, ended up in myriad socially awkward situations, taken Tai Chi and Salsa classes and had random conversations with some Serbian ladies.
But more than an homage to the film (or book, which I am yet to read anyway), I see February as my chance to test out Yes, Let’s in a social setting. I’m trying things, and committing to them but I also reserve the right to make suggestions of my own at any time. The experience, so far, has been just as fun and interesting as improvisation games.