Once again my clarifications are in Blue

Exercises for Rule #4  CONTACT/POINT OF FOCUS

Establish contact - Focus - Contact: 1) the act of touching or meeting, as of two things, people, etc. 2) immediate proximity or association.

Now that we have experienced "TRANSFORMATION"  the next step is to have this same experience while talking.  This seems to be a lot more difficult than it sounds.  I guess, somehow, our speech mechanisms must be deeply tied to a whole new defense process - a process that works hard to keep  us THINKING and, therefore, OUT of the intuitive.

S0...what we need to do now is work on out Point Of Focus (POF) [don't you like the sound of it? like POOF!] From now on we will simply call it POF...ok?

We remember that there are only three possible in the whole wide world or on stage remember?

1) POF image
2) POF partner
3) POF object

Now we are ready for our 1st exercise POOF!

1) POF image - a person focuses on an image and only on an image - without talking.

Now this POF is possibly the simplest and sometimes the most difficult for many improvisers...I also feel that it is the most neglected -and at the same time the most powerful in many improv games, forms, and scenes.

Exercise: A person gets up and sits in front of the others and SHARES a POF image.


 If You have a sound card touch my face
Pick an image that is important to you i.e. a setting or toy from your childhood, a specific setting or object that has had or has special meaning in your life.

Now the great part of this world is that it can be "ANYTHING" and "NO ONE" ever really needs to know what it "REALLY" is!  It can be something very secret that you have never told or never will tell anyone....hehehe!  Yes. It can even be X-rated or your "most embarrassing moment" kinda thing if you prefer....and "NO ONE" will ever know.  Mine is.... (never mind).

Ok so you have this image.....you are sitting in a chair center stage....and sharing it.  How do you share it you ask?  IT JUST HAPPENS ALL BY ITSELF!  All you need to "do" is sit there and keep your POF going.


If You have a sound card touch my face
Your eyes should be pointed to a point above the center of the group where you see your POF much like a big screen tv sort of a thing our there....your very own POF on big screen tv!

This seems very simple....but it's usually not.  You will find your self losing your POF -the big screen tv goes on the fritz too easily.  Just keep bringing it back.

Then there is the TIME thing... You will feel as though your POF is uninteresting and that you are up there POFing forever and boring people to tears.  The fact is....your little POF will be interesting for people to watch. Not funny, perhaps, but interesting.  Try it!  Everyone take a turn.  Talk about the difference in what you experience and what the viewers experience. POOF!

2) POF object - person focuses on object

Hey! You say. We already did this.  Right! so let's go on.

3) POF partner- person focuses only on partner (eye contact)

Ok. Now we've done POF Image and POF Object, which leaves only one POF left in the whole wide world....POF Partner.

Exercise: Two people get up and establish their POF as each other and ONLY each other.

So...now we can talk a little about "eye contact"...ok?  We know and feel this is one of the most powerful and often frightening contacts two people can make.  SO... use it.  In this POF exercise the two people should "experiment" with eye contact with each other, and when one or the other feels "uncomfortable" simply establish a different POF on your partner.

 If You have a sound card touch my face
There is nothing wrong with eye contact or "other contact" they are both "good" things as long as the POF is your partner and only your partner. (What I am trying to get at here is that a "stare down" competition is not what POF Partner is about since there are limitless other POF's available that are equally as "good" for this exercise)
So you are up there you establish "eye contact" with your partner - then you focus on other limitless available partner POF's i.e. a floating strand of hair, an ear ring, a peice of lint on his/her left shoulder....these are all "good" things.
 If You have a sound card touch my face
Try to stay focused on EACH point you pick until you feel something like transformation happening.

So...now we have done and isolated all three POF's available to us in the whole wide world - whether we are on stage or "real life"...and in some ways that is the key here.  What happens on stage is "interesting" only if it reflects the human experience we know as "real life".  The reason why improv and just about any other "performance" scene becomes UNinteresting, to down right boring, is that the viewer does not identify with what is being done.

Why is this?   Well...because what the improvisor/comedian/actor is doing lacks the reflection of "real life".

And how do we keep this darn old reflection of "real life" in our work as improvisers/actors/comedians???  Well, simply enough, by DOING what we DO in real life.

And what is that, pray tell??
You guessed it!   POF's  POF's  POF's!

Sounds too simple?  Ok. Right now try to have a moment of "real life" without a POF.  OK?

See? Unless you just died you can't.

So all this is about, in a proverbial nut shell, is...
Improvisers, actors, comedians, performers seem to feel that what they are "doing" when they are performing "automatically" transfers or is understood by the viewer to be "real life"....but, no...NOT.  Infact, everything that comes most naturally to most of us a performers will lead us AWAY from presenting "real life" Instead we will tend to present NON-REAL POF's like:
1) Am I being funny?
2) Is my hair ok?
3) Am I being funny?
4) What should I do next?
5) Am I being funny?
6) Is it cold in here?
7) Am I being funny?
and of course  8) Am I being funny?

So the only REAL POF's on stage, are exactly the same POF's we have in life.
1) POF Image
2) POF Object
3) POF Partner

And now we know and have isolated the POF's ...Whoopee!
Now, all we need to do is the old Mix and Match-while talking at the same time! Which I am happy  to say as of this date 10/14/98. Is Now Complete (well at least the begining. Soooo...here is a series of more advanced exercises dealing this this VOICE problem and other delemas of Improv