Monday, August 30, 2010

Sensuality Azure: Accepting Offers

If we want to be better role-players, we can find inspiration and guidance from many sources. I've found some guidance from improvisational comedy, or improv. Ideas, exercises, and practices of improv have crossed over into many fields, from business courses (where entrepreneurs need to "think outside the box") to video game companies (where designers need to understand flow and reactivity). I bring them into RP and D/s. Here is another notecard from my Sensuality Azure training materials.

4.1 Accepting Offers

The best role-play flows smoothly. Words and poses echo and intertwine. It's like a good French kiss. Unfortunately, flow is difficult to achieve. There are many obstacles. Yet some of these obstacles can be removed, when the players practice a habit from improvisational theater ("improv").

Role-play is a process of co-creation. Books or plays are written by a single, all-controlling author. The author is allowed to smear his ego over everything, and the reader or audience only consents to be present.

In contrast, role-play emerges from multiple authors sharing the same page. This can be a delightfully intimate experience, like having sex in a narrow bed. (Remember your dorm room?) But it can also be crowded, like trying to sleep together afterwards: all elbows and knees.

Improvisational theater is a relative of role-play. The players consent to a simple sketch, perhaps a location or a brief back-story, and then together they play a scene (tell a story). They follow a basic rule, which is sometimes called Always Accept Offers. Everyone agrees to accept any new idea someone adds to the scene, rather than ignore it, reject it, or argue about it.

Always Accept Offers is kind of like prostitution, only instead of whoring yourself, you're contributing to the flow. (If the scene involves whoring, then the metaphor is doubly apt.) It's a matter of etiquette: respecting your partners' creativity. It also improves the scene. It's hard to achieve dramatic momentum--flow--if someone keeps swerving or hitting the brakes.

The rule is sometimes labeled "Yes, and..." since that's the attitude each player should have. I particularly like this label, since it suggests how to role-play: agree with the choice your partner makes, and build on it. It's also a good attitude for playing a submissive or having sex. A submissive should obey a command, and strive to do more than was ordered, like adding extra sensuality to the action. And in bed, when your partner initiates a position, it helps the flow if you say, "Yes, and I could grip your [body part] while you do that." (Or lick, suck, pinch, etc.) The point is to honor the choice by embracing and expanding it. Expanding is good, right?

There are many ways to reject offers. Two of the most common are obsessing on details, and obsessing on the “rules” of a setting. Details are essential to making a scene vivid, and a rich setting can help define roles. For example, Gor is a rich setting with lots of “rules.” Suppose your slave kneels before you and tells you that a strange Master flirted with her in the marketplace. The Master claimed to be a scribe, and he was dressed all in black. You might be tempted to criticize the slave or her player, IMing her to say that she's kneeling wrong or that all scribes wear blue in Gor. But before you do, consider the creativity she's offering you, and whether you want her to keep making such offers. As artists and lovers, our egos don't heal easily.

To be clear, accepting offers doesn't mean ignoring your preferences or kinks, or worse, risking your safety. Role-play should always be satisfying and safe for everyone. If the offer turns you off or is unsafe, clearly you shouldn't accept it.

Ballroom dancing or domination may be about leading and following. But flow in role-play depends on sharing the power.

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This notecard is part of a collection called "Sensuality Azure by Kandr Newall". This collection is licensed as Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike ( Please don't sell this notecard. Please distribute and modify this notecard freely. Please credit Kandr Newall as the original author.

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