Invocation

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An improv opening where the team invoke the god of a common object. The team first gets the suggestion of the object. They then traverse through four phases of the invocation.

Contents

Four Phases

It is

During the it is phase, the players describe examples of the object. For instance, if the suggestion is "shoe", the players might say things like:

  • It is black and made of leather.
  • It is canvas with a rubber sole.
  • It is jack boot.
  • It is plastic and was made in China.

This is the most objective part of the opening. One goal is to stake out as wide a territory as possible, given the suggestion. For the shoe example, players should describe many different shoes, not just one particular shoe, each with salient details. Players should also yes and each other describing in further detail the examples that their teammates establish.

You are

In the second phase, the players address the object as if it were a person, a friend, a colleague, or a peer. This begins the more subjective part of the invocation where the players describe what the object might mean to them personally. Please note, that not every statement must begin with "You are".

  • You are kept inside the box you came in, and are only brought out for weddings and funerals.
  • You were my companion in gym class for two years, but you now hide away at the back of my closest.
  • When I wear you, jackboot, I feel powerful and strong, and sometimes a little angry.
  • You are practical and comfortable, but I cannot wear you when it's raining.

Thou art

Now the players begin to elevate the shoe. They should now address the shoe as if it were royalty or a spiritual being. Where before the players were talking about what the shoe means to them, they now are addressing greater themes, what the shoe means to society and what it's place in history is. Again, not every statement must begin with "Thou art", however the more poetic the statements, the better.

  • Thou art a symbol of formality, discipline and respect.
  • Thou art meant for Saturday afternoons at the playground.
  • Thou art friend to fascist and communist alike, a vector of violence and mayhem.
  • Thou coverest mine feet, protecting them from the elements.

I am

Finally the players have invoked the god of Shoe, and they are possessed with the spirit of this god. They speak with commanding voices, letting the audience know how Shoe feels about the puny mortal before it.

  • I bind your feet, my shiny patent leather surrounding and suffocating your soul.
  • I, Chuck Taylor, was the king of the basketball court before the days of Jordan.
  • My steel toes, worn by the masses, also keep the masses in their place.
  • I am a weapon of international trade, created from the delicate hands of third world children.

General notes

  • With each phase, the invocation should gain energy and commitment, starting with a casual conversational tone and building until the players are using their biggest stage voices. The opening finally climaxes when the players say in unison at a near shout, "I am Shoe!"
  • Just like in this example, there should be runners which appear in all four phases.
  • It is helpful to imagine a shoe in front of you, that you are describing, then talking to, as if it sits on a pedastal for the first two phases and then rises above you for the Thou Art phase.
  • Generally each player should contribute three to five lines to each section.
  • If there is a pause in the rhythm of the piece, that may be a good moment to move to the next phase.

History

The invocation was created by Del Close and was one of the standard openings for Harold taught at ImprovOlympic. It was one of many exercises that Close used that were inspired by religious and pagan ritual and ceremonies. Other examples would be a form he called the Oracle and a long warm up exercises he called Rituals.

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