Yes And

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This is one of the activities I used when I had to teach the basics of improv to a group of 100 intermediate school kids (11 and 12 year olds)

<put all the students into pairs>

Me: Ok, here’s the situation. It’s a beautiful, sunny, Saturday morning. You and your partner are going to decide what you’re going to do today.

So, person A, you’re going to suggest something, like ‘let’s go to the beach’. Then person B, I want you to shoot the idea down. Don’t just say ‘No’ or ‘I don’t want to’ come up with a reason why you shouldn’t do the thing, like ‘you know I can’t swim’, or ‘I’m allergic to sand’ or ‘don’t you know the ocean dried up?’

Then it’s person B’s turn to come up with an idea. Then person A, you shoot it down.Like this

A: Let’s get icecream.

B: No, we don’t have any money. Let’s play soccer.

A: No, you can’t because you’ve got a broken leg. Let’s fly to the moon.

B: No….

 

Do that as many times as you can in two minutes.

 

<they do that for about three minutes>

 

Me: Ok, how was that?

 

<it’s generally agreed to be quite fun.>

 

Me: Ok, awesome. Now we’re going to try something different. It’s the same situation, but this time instead of saying ‘no’, I want person B to say ‘yes’, and then suggest the next thing you should do based on that, then person A should suggest the next thing you should do based on that.

Oh, and you might as well do the things as you say them.

Like this

A: Let’s go to the zoo.

<they walk around the zoo>

B: Yes, and let’s open the cages so the animals get out.

<they open the cages>

A: Yes and let’s ride on an elephant

<they ride on an elephant>

B: Yes…

 

Ok, try and go for as long as you can.

 

<they do that for about 5 minutes>

 

Ok, how was that? <fun> What was different between the two games?

<in the second one we got to do stuff>

<saying no got more boring but saying yes got more interesting>

<the second one was more fun>

 

 

 

Me: Ok, great. So it seems like it’s more fun if we say ‘yes’ to an idea than if we say ‘no’.

If I was doing it today, I would probably follow it up with ‘the Wonderful Adventure of the People Lost in the Forest’, which I will talk about another time.

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