Yes And Alien,

An Improv Therapy Group exercise


Now that we have learned YES AND, I want experience creating something as a group together, but I don’t want to be limited to this world, so we create a YES AND Alien together.

Players are in a circle. We are imagining that there is an alien in the middle of the circle. I start by saying a statement about the alien such as, “This alien is purple.” The person to my left says, “YES” repeats my statement, “the alien is purple, AND…” adds something else about our alien. The next player says “YES” repeats the previous player’s statement and then adds something new about our alien. Continue in the circle until everyone has added something to our alien.

We have just created an alien together that would never have been invented by just one of us. It was completely collaborative with everyone having equal input.

We were imagining the alien as we were creating it together. We were able to do this because of YES AND. If we had negated each other; if someone else had said the alien was red after I said it was purple, the image in our head of our alien would have disappeared, but because we YES ANDed each other we were able to keep adding to our alien in a cohesive way.

This is great practice for using YES AND in conversation. Starting with YES, repeating what someone else has said, AND then adding your own input or truth is a positive way to have even the most difficult conversations.

Beware of BUTS! My mentor Martin de Maat told me that saying, “yes but,” is like saying, “yes, I hear you, but I don’t fully accept and embrace what you are saying.” In improv we want to fully embrace our partners ideas and statements.

After discussion, we create one more alien together. Same exercise, only this time whatever you add to our alien should be directly inspired by what the previous person added. This will force us to stay in the moment, and not pre plan what we’re going to add. It heightens our listening, and quick-thinking skills.

When we add to our alien directly inspired by what our partner added, we end up telling a story, similar to how when improvisors yes and each other they end up with a full scene.