I love improvising as a duo. Don’t get me wrong, playing with a larger group is loads of fun, but there’s something very special about finding the specific thing that works between you and one other person. You can be an entirely different performer from one duo to the next, depending on who you’re playing with, and the specific chemistry and mix of skills that you share. With one partner you might create a romance-laden musical, with another you might be a playful and game-heavy comedy, with someone else you might be an intellectual two-person play. Working as a duo means you have to be completely tuned into your partner, able to support their moves, and trust that they will support any ideas you throw at them.
So, how do you find the perfect twoprov partner? In many ways, it’s a lot like finding a romantic partner (and that’s probably why you find a lot of couples who improvise together!). You need to have a strong bond of friendship, great communication and conflict resolution skills, a compatible sense of humour, and at least a couple of shared interests. You need to be able to understand subtle cues from each other, develop a shared language, and be able to be playful. It helps if you have some complimentary skills; if one of you is fantastic at finding the game of the scene, it helps to have a partner who can ground you in some strong characters. And it’s no bad thing if there’s some sexual chemistry too.
But true improv love isn’t just about finding the right partner; it takes work to maintain any relationship, and that’s especially true if your relationship involves performing for others. You need to invest time and effort into maintaining your trust and support for each other, continuing to develop and adapt how you communicate, and honing your craft.
Twoprov requires a lot more from its players than improvising in larger groups. You need to be able to multirole clearly, edit concisely (even if you’re in a scene), and be constantly ready to pivot to something new if needed. There’s only two of you to pick everything up, so you can’t rely on off-stage players to provide information via walk-ons or bail you out with edits. It’s the two of you against the world.
If you want to take your two-person improvisation to the next level, Chris Griswold and I are teaching a class on exactly that. Duo Discovery takes place online from the 5th of March for 10 weekly sessions of 2 hours. Grab your partner and book a ticket to discover how to play more confident, compelling, and entertaining two-person improv. And if you’ve any questions, drop us an email.