Monday, April 18, 2011

Conflict with Kindness

It has been said that the essence of drama is conflict. I don't know who said it but I'm sure that they got into an argument over it.

Yet what could be more compelling than seeing people in conflict? They've got problems. Sure, you've got problems, too but you're there to forget about your problems for a little while so bigger, nastier problems that belong to someone else have a great appeal. Let's watch this accident happen. We hope no one gets hurt (I hope) but we can't stop looking.

When we create improv we do well to create a little (no, make that a lot!) of conflict -- all while following one of our big rules of "just say yes". That's part of the art. But we need some heart as well.

We need the heart to create that conflict, to build that drama, without abusing each other or our audiences. How do we do that?

Do we have to build in sappy happy endings? Does every sketch have to have a morale or smile attached?

Maybe not. But we should always keep hope as a possibility. Hold out the hope that people CAN do better. People can succeed. We will all face problems. We will all encounter and create conflict. But at the end of the play there's still hope that we can do it with courage and compassion.

Because as improv artists we have the opportunity to create more than entertainment. We can offer hope as well.

-- Douglas Brent Smith