Navigating ambiguity with three simple words

I have joyful memories of a Foundation 1 Improv class at BATS Improv in San Francisco, with the fabulous and kind Chris Sams as my teacher.

He taught us a Keith Johnstone Improv game called “What Comes Next?’.

One player stands on the stage, and simply asks his or her audience, “What Comes Next?”. The improviser has a spirit of anything can happen, show me where to go.

There is a joy of standing alone on a stage, not knowing what is coming next, but feeling supported by your classmates to help you create something out of nothing.

The audience, or classmates offer a single direction to start the player on an adventure. For example someone might say, “You stretch your arms”, or “You open the door to the lion’s cage”, or “You apply to a job at Google”…

Then, the Improviser has 2 choices.

He can do what is suggested, mime the action live on stage and again ask “What Comes Next?” and repeat this cycle of co-creation and exploration, or…

…when an idea or direction doesn’t  feel true or real for him, he is allowed to say “Nope” with a polite and cheery tone. Try this, it feels freeing and fun.

What unfolds is a series of  actions played out in real-time, guided by the whim of others and the intuition and honesty of the player.

We are constantly playing the game of “What Comes Next” –  and it can feel entirely overwhelming. If we remember that all it takes is one suggestion to get us started, and that our intuition is powerful and we can trust it, we can hopefully allow ourselves to enjoy the journey a bit more.

Think about what suggestions light your fire. Which ones are you excited to play with and explore? Think about the choices you are saying “Nope!” to – is out of fear, concern, or from a very clear place? Let that guide you.

When we play “What Comes Next”, in our lives, it doesn’t need to be played alone. Remember that the ultimate choice is up to you, but it sure is more fun to utilize others to add to your story.

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