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Peter Rogers's Blog
Artist-in-Residence at Chez Firth

Thursday (7/22/10) 10:56pm - ... wherein Peter takes notes on an improv/characterization workshop.

A couple of weeks back, I attended a workshop from Jill Bernard (aka biscuitpig) about improv character work.

My notes from this workshop are, at best, cryptic, so I'll just make a big bulleted list of the exercises we did.

  1. Quadrant[1] work.
    • You can think of the body split up into four quadrants:
      1. The head.
        • Characters who lead with the head are associated with intellect.
      2. The chest.
        • Characters who emphasize the chest tend to be superheroes or ingénues.
      3. The waist.
        • Characters who emphasize the waist tend to be lustful.
        • Conversely, if you hold back the waist, you can seem repressed.
      4. The legs.
        • Characters who keep their energy in their legs tend to be solid, "salt of the earth" types.
    • We explored the space as "head characters", greeted each other as such, and then (after getting back in a circle) discussed how that felt and how the characters came across.
    • Then we did the same for the other quadrants.
  2. "SWITCH!"
    • For this exercise, we did the following:
      1. Pair up.
      2. Pick one person in each pair to 'lead', one to 'follow'.
      3. That person would create a character.
      4. The follow would try to imitate that character.
      5. Every twenty seconds or so, Jill would flash the lights and shout "SWITCH!"
      6. Then the lead would have to switch to a new, heretofore-unseen character.
    • Note that Jill did about ten or twelve "SWITCH!"es, and thus all the leads ran out of stock, "go-to" characters.
  3. "Everybody go..."
    1. Everyone gets in a circle.
    2. Somebody shouts "Everybody go..." and then does a physical action.
    3. Everyone else shouts "YES!"
    4. Then *everybody* does the action.
    5. Note that you can do this with a character/emotion line delivery.
  4. Pass the character.
    1. Everyone gets in a circle.
    2. Person A initiates the game by crossing to Person B while in character and delivering a line.
    3. From then on, it's a game of telephone:  Person B crosses to Person C, imitating the character/line as best as possible.
    4. And so on.
  5. Voice Yoga
    1. Practice projecting your voice from different parts of your body.
    2. Try putting it deep in your chest; try bringing it up into your nose.
    3. You can experiment with projecting your voice from 'imaginary locations' -- e.g. points outside of your body.
  6. Animals.
    1. Get in a circle.
    2. Someone whispers an animal suggestion to the person on their right.
    3. That person proceeds around the circle.
    4. They start out doing an impression of the animal.
    5. By the time they get back to their spot, they've transitioned to a human-being version of that animal impression.
    6. Then, move on to the next person in the circle.
  7. Objects.
    1. Get in a circle.
    2. Person A suggests to an adjacent Person B:
      1. An object that they've got.
      2. An item of clothing that they're wearing.
    3. Example:  "You're holding a stack of poker chips, and you're wearing a wimple."
    4. Then, Person B does a short monolog as that character.
      • Note:  you can make this more challenging by stipulating that Person B does the speech without directly referencing either item.
    5. Then, move on to the next person in the circle.
  8. Bringing it all together.
    1. Finally, we did short scenes.
    2. We got in two lines.
    3. Before the head person from each line jumped into a scene, the people behind them would whisper suggestions to them.
    4. They could be suggestions of any of the varieties listed above:
      • Emphasizing a certain part of the body.
      • An emotional state.
      • An object.
      • An item of clothing.
      • A vocal style.
      • An animal inspiration.
      • A type of physicality.
________
[1] The geometer in me bristles at this imprecise use of 'quadrant', but hell if I can think of a better word.

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Comments:

[User Picture]
From:biscuitpig
Date:Thursday (7/22/10) 10:57pm
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YAY! Now we are LJ friends!!

The four quadrants come from Jacques Lecoq.
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[User Picture]
From:hujhax
Date:Friday (7/23/10) 1:03pm
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YAY! Now we are LJ friends!!

\o/

:)
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[User Picture]
From:firth
Date:Friday (7/23/10) 2:14pm
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These are an awesome substitute for the notes I took that were stolen. Thanks!
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