To Be Thought Normal, To Appear Happy… Fast Food Stanislavsky Lists

To be Thought Normal
Agree with caution.
Ask dull questions.
Check appearance, opinions.
Be concerned about the time.
Don’t take up much space – unless trying to imitate others.
Seek reassurance.
Find others strange.
Be formal.

To Appear Happy and Contented with Everything
Behave as if you have a delightful secret.
Endow others with good intentions.
Endow others with humour.
Enjoy touching things, including yourself.
Have a pop tune inside your head.
Laugh just from sheer pleasure.

To be Thought a Jerk
Be tactless – refer to broken love affairs, drag up old bones.
Bad manners.
Be a bigot.
Have chip on shoulder.
Interrupt (change subject?).

Johnstone, Keith. Impro for Storytellers

Lists are ways of giving the players permission to create characters that may be alien to them.

Long ago I directed a play at the Danish State Theatre School and discovered that the students knew hardly anything about the ideas of Stanislavsky (the great Russian director and acting teacher). He believed that if an actor is absorbed in trying to achieve a purpose, automatic systems will kick in (as happened to Tony Curtis, who was screwing up his debut as a messenger-boy until an older actor murmured, ‘Try to get a tip’).

Fast-Food Stanislavsky was my attempt to speed up the learning, and to my astonishment it made the players seem boundlessly imaginative.