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

Thursday (7/12/12) 6:38pm - ... wherein Peter attends week 1, day 4 of the iO Summer Intensive.

Here are my notes from week 1, day 4 of the iO Summer Intensive.  Our instructor for week one was Marla Caceres.

* Warm-up: ZOMBIE!
        * Everyone walks around the room.
        * Someone is specified a ZOMBIE!
        * The ZOMBIE! picks a target at begins shambling towards them.
                * Do this as loudly and ZOMBIE!-like as possible.
        * If the ZOMBIE! is coming at you....
                * Shout someone else's name.
                * Then that 'someone else' becomes the ZOMBIE!

* Conducted story:
        * Tell the story in third person.
        * Follow & respect the voice/style that emerges in the story.
                * If there is no apparent voice or style, try to find it in the material you've heard so far.
        * First perform the exercise conducted, then *unconducted*.
                * i.e., conduct yourselves.
        * Then, do it self-conducted *without standing still*.
                * Move around the space.
                * Provide physical support/embodiment for offers.
                * Provide sound effects.
                * Perform abstract flocking where appropriate.
        * Follow the energy.
                * When somebody endows something, *everybody onstage* should hop in on developing it.
                * Similar to yesterday's scene painting.
        * Try to introduce dynamics: loud/soft, fast/slow, etc.
        * Jump on patterns INSTANTLY.
        * Never feel *bound* to doing narrative.
        * Always respond to the last thing said or done.
                * Your allegiance is to *that last offer*.
                * Don't worry about reincorporating/following a story.

* Harold Openings:
        * Perform the same "unconducted story".
                * Then, follow it with three scenes.
        * Keep those opening scenes disparate/separated.
                * Don't moth-buzz around one topic.
                        * ... or you'll end up unable to support the rest of the show.
        * Always be ready to go deeper/more emotional/more thematic with the suggestion.
                * This is especially useful for a dumb/'funny' suggestion.
                * They'll never suggest "facing your inevitable mortality".
                        * They *will* suggest "dildo".
        * Again, try to follow/develop/heighten *only* the last offer.
        * If you feel stuck in the opening...
                * Just make the current thing *bigger*.
                * Committing like that will eventually turn that into something else.
                * Do this *instead* of dropping the current action and doing something else.
                        * It's one of those "the only way out is through" situations.
                * You can explore/embiggen the *tiniest* choices.
                
* Harolds!
        * Openings generate material.
                * i.e. themes, "rules", ideas, promises to the audience.
                * A "rule" might be:  "In *this* Harold..."
                        * "... a confident-enough person can make people pass out."
                        * "... all the edits are accompanied by a 'whoosh' sound."
                        * ... etc.
                * Some classicists argue that the opener includes three physical transformations of the ongoing action.
        * Then, 1st beats.
                * Three scenes without any interruptions from walk-ons or tag-outs.
                        * Usually they're "small", 2-person scenes.
                * These are scenes that breathe, developing rich, full characters.
                        * Related note: try, try, try not to edit a 1st-beat scene too early.
                                * We *need* these worlds to develop.
                                        * They need details.
                                        * They need emotions.
                                        * They need weight.
                                        * ... or we can't build on them.
                * Ideally, when the lights come down on a first-beat scene, you should be thinking, "Dammit!  We had SO MUCH MORE we could have done!"
        * 1st Group Game:
                * This is a palate-cleanser to follow the slow, rich scenes.
                        * It's quick, high-energy, and abstract.
                * Instead of two people, the audience gets to see the whole cast.
                        * Note: the group game must involve *everybody*.
                * It can actually be a group scene.
                        * Usually it's something more abstract -- but it doesn't have to be.
                * This doesn't add information.
                        * We still glean all our information from the opening.
                * Some classicists argue that the first group game includes only one physical transformation of the ongoing action.
        * 2nd beats
                * Each 2nd-beat scene expands on the world of its corresponding 1st-beat scene.
                * Tag-outs are okay, but only use them if necessary.
                        * But don't speed up too much yet.
                        * The trend: we get faster/more gamey as things go on.
                * We don't have to keep both (or any) characters from the 1st-beat scene.
                        * But we *do* have to keep that *world*.
                * An advanced technique:
                        * Don't even explore the world of the 1st beat, but explore its theme.
                                * Instead of a breakup, we see a firing that *feels* like a breakup.
        * 2nd Group Game.
                * Some classicists argue that the second group game includes only one physical transformation of the ongoing action.
        * 3rd Beats:
                * This is where we start 'running'.
                        * Edits are faster.
                * Things start folding together.
                        * i.e. if you find inter-story connections organically, that's cool.
                                * ... but don't force it.
                                * You don't *need* inter-story connections.
                                        * Just don't resist them if they happen.
                        * Note that finding inter-story connections in the 1st or 2nd beats is *not* cool.
                                * It's limiting.
                                * It gives you less 'separation' to draw on later on.
                * We draw on *everything* that's happened before.
                * In a textbook Harold, we get three more scenes.
                        * But it's perfectly okay if we don't.
                * At this point, just *go*, even if you don't *know*.
                        * Sure, on some level, this is always true.
                        * But here especially, *speed* seems more important than having something awesome to set up.
        * Ideally, we end in an organic game/action that draws in everything we've seen.
                * In practice, it's more like the lighting person sees that you hit a good button, and: blackout!

* Notes for me:
        * If you find yourself really digging into the *emotion* of a scene, make sure you don't give short shrift to enriching the *details* of the scene's world.
        * 
        
* General notes:
        * A big thing to notice with TJ & Dave is how relentlessly & thoroughly they listen to each other.
        * A simple context/where-are-we? hint can change the nature of the entire event.
        * "Why is this so improtant to you?" is always a useful question to have in mind about your character.
                * "All characters are selfish, on some level."
                * Always be ready to give yourself that gift, if necessary.
                        * Especially if you tend to be a generous player.
        * Listen for laughs -- that's often the audience telling you about a funny thing that could become an entertaining game.
        * It's never your personal responsibility to "move things along".
                * Instead, it's the *ensemble's* responsibility to stay active and invested enough in whatever happens that the show sustains its momentum.
                

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