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

Saturday (7/9/11) 5:19pm - ... wherein Peter posts notes about the TCIF group-games class.

On Saturday, June 25th, Peter McNerney taught a TCIF workshop class about group games.  Here are some notes I took on the class.

* Why do we laugh?
        * We laugh when we see failure.
                * Specifically, because of failure that builds us, the audience, up in status.
                        * We don't laugh at the decrepit elderly man falling down.
                        * Laughter is a way of noting our own increased status.
        * We laugh when we recognize patterns.
                * Seeing the pattern satisfies the audience's predictions.
                        * "Ha!  I am smart!"
                * The more complex the pattern, the bigger the laugh.
* Patterns are everywhere.
        * Abstract motions will have patterns
        * Scenes will have patterns.
        * Even characters have patterns.
                * Consistent character behavior is a kind of pattern.
* Exercise:
        * One person enters, delivers a line, and exits.
        * Another preson repeats this same thing.
        * Stop here, and discuss:
                * What was the same between the two iterations?
                * What was different?
                * (most important) What got *heightened* from the first iteration to the second?
        * Another preson repeats this same thing.
                * This time, try to keep the same/different/heightening patterns going.
* You can *always* take a pattern to a bigger or weirder place.
* Different patterns have different shapes.
        * "Flat pattern":
                * Nothing changes.
                * You can get comedy out of this.
        * "Linear pattern":
                * You exhaust every reasonable variation.
                * Then you go to weirder possibilities.
                * See also:  new choice.
        * "Exponential pattern":
                * This one immediately blows out to crazytown.
        * "Umbrella pattern":
                * This is when you string together smaller patterns.
                * "1 2 3 4 5 blue 1 2 3 4 5 yellow 1 2 3 4 5 purple"
* If you're playing out a pattern in a scene, still try to do good scenework.
        * Hold on to your character motivations.
        * Hold on to whatever realism you can.
                * That means, if you hear a weird line, *react to it like it's weird*.
        * Good scenework can be a great safety net, should the pattern fail to get laughs.
* Take your time in the first few offers.
        * React to/explore them fully and realistically before making the next offer.
        * Try to keep things simple at the start.
                * Just notice the very simple patterns that are emerging, and explore those.
        * If you've already made an offer in the scene, definite hang back, react, and don't force the next offer.
        * Note that this will mean the pattern will go faster later in the scene.
                * Acceleration = what we want.
* If you're confused about something, so is the audience.
        * Sorting out the confusion often gets you a "thank you, we're not crazy!" laugh from the crowd.
* In a "Boardroom Scene", your initial offer establishes the group of characters who will play the game.
        * e.g. "Farmers, come gather 'round!"
        * You want to have strong reactions to further offers *as a group*.
                * This makes the audience want to join in with that reaction.
                * And that engages the audience, which is what we want.
* In an "Abstract Game", the first offer doesn't create a clear game.
        * Often, it's just a simple physical offer.
        * Often, the button is an explanation of what we've been seeing.
        * If things get muddled, play the 'tune' instead of grasping for meaning.
                * i.e. play rhythms, play repetitions, and so on.
        * Avoid "voice from offstage" offers, if possible.
                * Those tend to make you detached from the scene.
        * Again, react en masse to new offers.
* In an "Embodiment Game", everyone tries to embody some complicated concept.
        * Even then, you want to fight for your scenework.
        * Even then, you want to react as realistically as you can to new offers.

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Comments:

[User Picture]
From:biscuitpig
Date:Sunday (7/10/11) 11:40am
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Thank you for your notes! The saddest thing about administering workshops is you don't get to TAKE them!
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[User Picture]
From:hujhax
Date:Tuesday (7/12/11) 9:38am
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*tips hat*
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