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tools to say "no" and navigate boundaries

Many actors are trained to say "yes" or even "yes and" without checking in with themselves first, and/or regardless of what they actually want or feel comfortable with. It can be difficult to navigate saying "no"--it often feels really difficult! So here are a few tools and scripts to help. 

open ended questions

When discussing boundaries, it's helpful to change "yes/no" questions to more open-ended questions...this bypasses the ability to say "no" at all! 

The easiest way to do this is to change questions to "How do you feel about?" questions. For example, instead of "Can I touch your shoulder?" or "Is it okay if I touch your shoulder" say "How do you feel about me touching your shoulder?" 

"hold" / "pause" / "button" / crossing arms in an x

If something comes up that isn't working for the actor, they can say "hold," "pause," or "button" (short for "pause button"), or the actor can simply cross their arms in front of their chest (a la Black Panther) to signify that something needs to be addressed. When an actor says or does this, the others can ask "What do you need?" 

script examples

Here are some possible ways that these tools can be used. 

  • "This isn't going to work for my knees. Can we find another way to do this?" 

  • "Hold. I have a boundary around my feet. How do you feel about grabbing ankles instead?"

  • "Pause. My skirt is twisted and I need to fix it." 

  • (arms in an X in front of chest) "Can I take a five minute break?" 

  • "Button. I'm not comfortable with that." 

  • "Wait. Can we get some Listerine strips before we rehearse this scene?"

  • "Pause. Your hand was supposed to go to my thigh there. Can we review/clarify?" 

  • "Pause. Can you use less pressure on that grip?" 

  • "Button. I'd prefer not to do that." 

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