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Randomness vs Chaos: The Lottery or the Weather

Lottery numbers are random. The weather is chaotic.


When something is random it is, by definition, unpredictable. There’s no pattern. There’s no chain of events, even slightly. When a random number is generated, it has no connection to whatever numbers have been generated before or after. That’s the lottery. That’s randomness.

The weather is somewhat predictable. You can make predictions as to where a hurricane may strike. The further you predict into the future, the less accurate your prediction will be.


But once a hurricane has struck a particular location, it is easy to look back and see the chain of events that made it happen. You can make sense of it, and even use that to make better predictions about where it will go next. That’s chaos.


When you begin your improv scene — particularly if you do things the way I’m suggesting — what happens is mostly random. Randomness, in your scene or piece, is about what is happening in the moment, moment by moment. Do things just to do them. Then do more. Worry about why later.

Once enough moments have passed, you can look back and see how your piece got from its beginning to where it is now. Each moment is a different bead on a string. You focus only on the bead you’re dealing with. After awhile, you begin to see a necklace taking shape. Now you can determine how to finish the necklace and make it come out the way you want it. Use randomness in the moment, and then use chaos when the moments begin to make sense.


As with weather predictions, it's best to allow chaos to predict the near future and to make sense out of the past. Look too far ahead and your chaos can become fuzzy.


Use randomness and chaos to create order. They are not the same thing.

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