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Consider a two handed scene. The offer is “a ship caught in a storm”. The scene proceeds:

“Look there’s a ship caught in this storm!”
“Oh blimey! What shall we do?”
“We should phone the coast guard!”
“Right! Good idea! Can we get a signal out here?”
“We best had, that ship’s heading straight for some rocks!”
“Oh dear. Those are very bad rocks to be heading toward.”
“They certainly are! Right, let me see if I can get a signal on this mobile phone.”
“Is that the one you got for Christmas?”
“It certainly is.”
“It’s a nice phone. Can you get a signal?”
“Thank you. Just about. Hang on they’re answering…”

The premise was “ship caught in a storm”. We got “two not very interesting people talking about mobile phones”. Why? Because we talked about the scene. We became passive observers, not active participants. There aren’t really rules in improv, but there are a few warnings. One warning is don’t stand there talking about it, it’s boring. Get in there.

If there’s a ship caught in a storm then the active place to be is aboard it. What happens then? Lots of things, but it’s not standing around talking about something off stage.

On a ship at sea: a tempestuous noise of thunder and lightning heard.

Enter a Master and a Boatswain


Here, master: what cheer?

Good, speak to the mariners: fall to’t, yarely,
or we run ourselves aground: bestir, bestir.


Enter Mariners

Heigh, my hearts! cheerly, cheerly, my hearts!
yare, yare! Take in the topsail. Tend to the
master’s whistle. Blow, till thou burst thy wind,
if room enough!

and so on