Like Potion: Recipe

Like Potion: Recipe

Vulnerability is a like potion. For love potions you have to add extra ingredients for the sexy part, but for likability, vulnerability will do just fine.

I just looked up the definition of vulnerability: the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.


That definition leaves out the upside of vulnerability. The trust you give by being vulnerable fosters the possibility of a strong connection with someone.

In real life, it’s smart to choose your vulnerable moments wisely, but when you’re improvising, do vulnerable. It’s either going to set you up with a strong connection between characters or set up an awesome theatrical moment when you get attacked or harmed. Either way, the audience will be taking a big sip of like potion...

What might doing vulnerable look like?

If you get dumped in a scene:
Vulnerable choice: just crying--no words.
Invulnerable choice: “I didn’t like you anyway.”

If you get fired in a scene:
Vulnerable choice: open a window prepare to jump “not again, I can’t face my wife.”
Invulnerable choice: “Finally, I’m out of this crap-fest!

If you get accused of eating the last cupcake out of the break room fridge:
Vulnerable choice: “I’m sorry. I couldn’t help myself. I’ve just been so anxious today.”
Invulnerable choice: “There was no name on it!!! Screw you all!”

Why does vulnerability work? It’s about survival. We’re captivated when other humans are vulnerable because we want to see how they get through it (or not) so we can update our own survival rules and tools.

It’s also about our shared humanity. We want happy endings for people because we want happy endings for ourselves. We relate to characters who are vulnerable or up against the odds because we have our own struggles. We can’t help putting ourselves in their place--and seeing characters be vulnerable and then coming out on top gives us hope and a feeling that we might just get through what we’re facing!

Please don’t just take my word for it. Try it out on stage.

And in case you don’t think it works in the real, off-stage world, go tell a stranger something while you’re crying and see what happens. Go! Now!

© 2019 Andrew Merit