Category Archives: technique

Establishing an EPOV

Washington Improv Theater offered a workshop last weekend led by Bobbi Block, artistic director for Philadelphia improv troupe Tongue & Groove. One of her key points was that to ground our characters we must work from an Emotional Point of View (EPOV). We all do this every day, though in general I’d say most of us are pretty good at putting our real EPOV aside most of the time in order to play nice in the real world. Well, as usual with improv vs. “real life” we get to drop the bullshit and be real.

The exercises we played that addressed Bobbi’s principle led me to the conclusion that many of us have very small “emotional dictionaries” from which to pull an EPOV for a scene, or even to name our own real life EPOV at any given time.

How are you feeling right now?

Fine? Me too. So… do I want to see a scene about a bunch of people feeling fine? Not really.

I googled Emotions. Here is a tidbit from Wikipedia I liked as a start.

Plutchik’s wheel of emotions

Robert Plutchik created a wheel of emotions in 1980 which consisted of 8 basic emotions and 8 advanced emotions each composed of 2 basic ones.[1]

Basic emotion Basic opposite
Joy Sadness
Acceptance Disgust
Fear Anger
Surprise Anticipation
Sadness Joy
Disgust Acceptance
Anger Fear
Anticipation Surprise
Advanced emotion Composed of… Advanced opposite
Optimism Anticipation + Joy Disappointment
Love Joy + Acceptance Remorse
Submission Acceptance + Fear Contempt
Awe Fear + Surprise Aggressiveness
Disappointment Surprise + Sadness Optimism
Remorse Sadness + Disgust Love
Contempt Disgust + Anger Submission
Aggressiveness Anger + Anticipation Awe

How might these basic sets of emotions or blends of emotions might inform a character and inform his/her reactions to the situation and other characters on stage?


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Locked in stocks

I’ve noticed, and had a lot of conversations with fellow improvisers at about my own level of experience, that it is very easy to fall into “stock characters” or at least “stock” characteristics/mannerisms that may feel spontaneous but are in fact, our standard defaults.  It feels spontaneous because we didn’t think about it in advance, we just found ourselves in a scene and started reacting… then, realizing oh damn, I’m this guy again.

How can we break out of these stocks? (Pun intended.)


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