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

Wednesday (7/18/12) 1:07am - ... wherein Peter attends week 2, day 2 of the iO Summer Intensive.

Here are my notes from week 2, day 2 of the iO Summer Intensive.  Our instructor for week two is Colleen Doyle.

* Zombie Line
        * Get in a circle.
        * Person 1 approaches person 2.
                * Upon reaching person 2, delivers a line of dialog in a particular way.
        * The person 2 approaches person 3.
                * Person 2 delivers the same line, in the same way, amped up by maybe 1%.
        * Ideally, you get several of these lines roving around the circle at once.
        
* "Good morning, fucko!"
        * Start with two people "asleep" onstage.
                * Note that even the manner in which they sleep can be mined for character & relationship info.
        * An offstage prompt: "Good morning, fucko!"
        * Then, each character starts his or her day.
                * This is done in silence.
                * The players pay particular attention to spacework.
                        * We're aiming for specificity in the spacework.
                * (If you're doing lazy/sloppy/vague spacework, why even bother?)
        * Chase patterns: be a raving paranoid about the very first stuff that happens in the scene, and try to develop your character from that.
                * So: you're not necessarily *yourself* in this scene.
                * Find the character that you wind up being.
                * Whatever quality you see in yourself early on: notice it, respect it, exaggerate it.
        * Note that the characters are in the same physical space.
                * Mistakes will be made.  Use them.
                        * Or at the very least, trust that these 'mysteries' will work themselves out, in time.
                                * Logic usually 'just works out' in a paradoxical scene.
                                * But characters are unlikely to eventually 'just appear' out of a vague scene.
        * Eventually you're allowed to speak.
                * Don't let the dialog shut down your spacework.
                * This exercise isn't about spacework, but the spacework helps inform your character choices.
                        * And the character chioces are what matter here.
        * This exercise is very much about taking care of yourself first.
                * Make character choices for yourself before worrying about the scene or the other people in it.
                * Don't worry about 'making a good scene'; worry about using *your* day to inform *your* character.
        * Don't try to solve the other character's problems.
                * Most often, the other character's problems are what define that character.
                        * "Oh.  This is the kind of person who gets pissy about bad coffee."
                                * If you give that character better coffee, s/he might just go back to neutral.
                * You can like/respect your scene partner, yet still refuse to endow the scene with good coffee.
        * Once you know your relationship to your scene partner, feel free to say what it is.
                * Be direct, be explicit, even be expository.
        * These scenes tend to be good just because they have solid characters.
                * Solid characters are always watchable.
                * Ergo, don't worry if your scene doesn't have a premise.
                * Don't worry about doing 'good improv' -- just do good characters.
        * If your character is crazy, that's fine, so long as the character isn't just random-crazy.
                * Your crazy character still needs a point of view.
        * If you can't find your character, then feel your *reaction* to a line.
                * If you can find that, start digging into *why* your character reacts that way.
                * There's a character at the other end of that thread.
        * Getting to a big character very quickly is the easiest way to do this.
                * Then you've done the 'work' of the scene in the first 30 seconds.
                * You can sepnd the rest of the scene just letting that character exist.
                        * And you'll make more discoveries along the way.
        * A premise can sputter out after 90 seconds.
                * But a character can keep delivering (& developing) long beyond that.

* Character Gauntlet
        * Everyone lines up along the back.
        * Person 1 steps forward, starts a scene with a clear character choice.
        * Person 2 steps forward and *matches* that character choice as thoroughly as they can.
        * They have a quick scene together.
        * That scene ends.
        * Then Person 1 initiates the same sort of thing, with a new character, with Person 3.
        * And so on down the line.
        * Once all those are done, bring out Person 2 to do the same thing, down the line.
        * First and foremost: this exercise was the most I'd laughed in months.
                * We must do this when I get back to Austin.
        * Matched energies KILL in performance.
        * It lets you both discover new stuff quickly together.
        * It keeps you from getting gummed up in conflicts/premises.
        * And nobody questions the character choices.
                * Nobody points and says, "Waiiit, that's weeeeird."
                * Calling out or questioning a bold character choice is always an option.
                        * But *joining* the energy is always just easier.
                        
* "Body Heightening".
        * Three- or four-person scene in a suggested location.
        * Start the scene playing yourself, or as close to yourself as you can manage.
        * Once the scene has settled in, the teacher introduces a physical alteration.
                * Examples from our class:  you all... 
                        * ... have a severe underbite
                        * ... always keep your lips puckered out in a "kissy face"
                        * ... constantly run your tongue around your teeth
                        * ... wink after every time you speak.
        * Whatever emotional change you perceive from that physical change, notice it, develop it, commit to it, and see what develops from it.
                * If you don't notice any emotional effect from it, then just pick something.
                        * "When in doubt, *pick anything*."
        * Don't worry about conflicts, premises, "a good scene".
                * Again, just commit to the characters.  That's the important thing.
                        * For the purposes of this exercise.
                        * And, in a larger sense, for the purposes of iO-style improv.
        * Doing the ridiculous physical constraint *together* kind of 'takes the curse off of it'.
                * It makes it seem 'right' for the universe.
                * It makes you feel supported while you're doing it.
        * The relevant question for physicality is *always* "How does this make me feel?"
                * With that question, you're building the core of character and finding emotional engagement with the scene.
                * Without that question, you're just doing a silly walk for the sake of doing a silly walk.
                
* "Accidents"
        * 1 person is put onstage, and given a location.
        * The audience, after a 3-count, shouts, "DIE! DIE! DIE!"
        * The performer explores the location a bit.
        * The performer finds an object in that location.
        * The performer heightens the object over and over until...
        * The object kills the performer.
        * The performer dies.
        * The teacher shouts an emphatic "YAY!" and everyone applauds.
        * It was often fun to find the deadly thing happen long before the actual death.
                * For instance, a paper cut at the top of the scene caused a bleeding-to-death later on in the scene.
        * This game is about the power of environment in scenes.
        
* Notes for me:
        * My notes for myself:
                * I did pretty badly at checking in with my partner today.
                        * But this is the right week to fail at that.
                        * As above, this is the week where taking care of yourself is priority #1.
                * I've also been forgetting spacework all over the place when focussing on character exercises.
                        * Oh well.
                * I didn't feel like I gave myself enough time to explore the setting in the "Accidents" exercise.

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