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

Saturday (7/21/12) 3:36am - ... wherein Peter attends week 2, day 3 of the iO Summer Intensive.

Here are my notes from week 2, day 3 of the iO Summer Intensive.  Our instructor for week two was Colleen Doyle.

* Warm-up: Quick Scenes
        * Everyone gets in a circle.
        * Two people jump in.
        * They do a two-line scene.
        * They high-five.
        * ASAP (i.e., while the high-five is happening), two more people jump in for the next scene.
        * If (n > 2) people jump in, then (n-1) people respond simultaneously to line #1.

* More About "Accidents":
        * The death needn't be logical.
                * Just follow the heightening with conviction.
        * This exercise is also about feeling confident & comfortable with 'selling' a scene alone onstage.
        * Good object work really engages the audience.
                * It's more interesting than being clever.

* 1 -> 7 -> 1
        * 7 people are onstage, in the back line or in the wings.
        * We get a suggested location.
        * 1 person does a solo scene in that location.
                * These scenes are short -- just a couple of beats.
        * Then a second person jumps in.
                * They start an unrelated scene.
                * It's not necessarily in that suggested location.
        * Repeat until all 7 people are onstage.
                * The 7-person thing is a complete, self-contained scene.
        * Then pop back to the 6-person scene.
                * There has been a time jump in this universe, à la Pan Left/Pan Right.
                * Try to keep the exact same physicality you ended the 7-person scene with.
                        * And find a way to justify it in this new world.
                        * (See also: Parallel Universes.)
        * Note that this exercise includes some giant scenes.
                * Take care not to talk over each other.
                * Likewise, take care to let the scene respond to the last thing said.
                        * This, instead of saving up an 'awesome' line of dialog, and eventually delivering it no matter what's been said in the interim.
                * As a support player who barely speaks in a group scene, you can still give your character a specific "thing" (a physicality, a tic, etc.)
        * Distinct physicality for your different characters is your friend here.
        * The first six scenes are so short that direct and immediate specificity is your friend.
                * You don't want the initial scene to be vague.
                        * This will make it impossible to remember.
                * Entering with an emotion is useful.
                * Exploring the "Why?" behind an aspect of the scene can lead you to specificity.
                        * (Me: and it tends to ground the scene emotionally.)
        * Note that the new entrant doesn't have to provide *all* the specifics.
                * Useful saying: 'everybody brings their own brick'.
                * Variation: 'You don't have to build the cathedral; you just have to bring your own brick.  Then the *group* will build the cathedral together.'
                * So, someone *enters* with one specific (one brick).
                        * After that, the people already onstage *add* bricks.
                * If you're one of the people already onstage, you have your own responsibilities.
                        * Look for things that are vague.
                                * Nail them down.
                        * Look for things that could be more specific.
                                * Make them more specific.
        * Entering with a simple choice is often your best bet.
                * "It's my first day of work." is fine.
                        * This gives the rest of the ensemble lots of blanks they can immediately nail down.
                                * It gives them opportunities.
                * This often works much better than UCB-y, sketch-premise sort of initiations.
        * Remember that you don't need the 'perfect' initiation.
                * You don't have to endow everybody.
                * In a 7-person scene, you'll only do 1/7th of the work.
                * Just bring one simple, solid brick.
                        * The rest will take care of itself.
        * Nailing down the environment (either verbally or with spacework) helps make the scene easier to remember.
        
* Silent scenes set to music.
        * Two people get onstage.
        * We get a suggested location or relationship.
        * The teacher picks a song to play.
        * The two people then do a silent scene, for the duration of that song.
                * You let the music inform the scene.
                * Note: in scenes without a song in the background, you can still imagine a song in your head, and let that influence your decisions.
        * This exercise pushes clearer physicality & emoting.
                * It's surprising how much you can convey without dialog.
                        * Ergo, feel free to employ silence in scenes.
                        * And take advantage of physicality/emoting even when you're delivering dialog.
        * And spacework -- keep discovering stuff in your environment.
        * The two performers need to check in a *lot*.
                * It's almost mirroring, in this regard.
        * Specificity will help you find the scene.
                * Me: even though you can't say anything, you can still imagine the scene elements as very specific things.
                        * e.g., this isn't just a car, it's a rusted-out beige 1980 El Dorado.
                        
* "O Mighty Isis"
        * 7 people get onstage.
        * The teacher prompts with a large thing/place of some sort.
        * They create a tableau of the object, one person at a time.
        * Each person comes onstage, embodies the object-part they're doing, and then announces what they are.
                * "I am the ship's anchor, sunk deep into the ocean floor."
                * (Other versions of this exercise are silent.)
                * Include sounds or motions, when appropriate.
        * Follow the mood/style of the object.
                * We're going depth-first rather than breadth-first here.
                * i.e., we're not dismissing what we've found so far, and exploring something new.
                        * Instead, we're finding ways to deepen and develop what the ensemble has created so far.
                        * "Keep exploring what you know to be true."
        * Avoid embodying human beings.
        * You can embody sounds/smells/etc.
        * Once everybody's had a go, you can take a new position and embody something new.
        * Me: "Follow-the-energy" (see last week's notes) seems to work well here.
                * i.e. when somebody creates an inspiring offer, the ensemble can jump in and help explore that corner of the object.
        * One varation: embody a living thing, and then have the fully-embodied creature do things.
* "Narrative Fantasy"
        * 7 people onstage.
        * The audience suggests a title.
        * One of them narrates a fantastical tale.
        * The rest of the cast embodies the elements of the story.
        * There is give-and-take between offers from the narrator and offers from the ensemble.
                * But there is respect.
                        * The ensemble listens for offers from the narrator.
                        * The narrator observes the actions of the ensemble.
        * Again, it helps when everybody is doing the same thing.
        * Repetition is inherently satisfying.
                * If you set a pattern, the audience will delight in every time it comes back.
                * So, commit to such patterns.
                        * Meticulously perform every step when they come around.
                * Me: once a pattern shows up, you can tweak it in different ways to make it emotionally expressive.
                        * (e.g. this time around, every step of the repeated pattern is done very nervously.)
        * Everyone participates all the time.
                        
* "Story Theater"
        * This is the same as "Narrative Fantasy", except there is no set narrator.
                * Instead, different people take on the narration as the mood strikes them.
                * Also the narrator is always participating in the ensemble work.
        * Again, everyone participates all the time.
        * Always always always look for chances for an "all-play"
                * i.e., points where the *whole ensemble* can, for a time, do the exact same thing.
        * Scene-painting a character in this exercise can be very useful.
                * It can help give that person their POV.
                * Even knowing what you're wearing can help you find your character.
                        * (Keep that in mind for scenework in general.)
                
* General Notes:
        * Respect mistakes.
                * Hell, be *paranoid* on the lookout for mistakes.
                * Rolling with mistakes forces you to stop rapidly-writing.
                        * It makes you really improvise.
                * Mistakes lead you to decisions you couldn't come up with on your own.
        
* Notes for me:
        * In both of your 1->7->1 scenes, you entered as someone outside the group.
                * (In one case, a film director; another, as a lawyer reading a family's will.)
                * Instead, try finding ways to be "one of the group".
                * Being *with* the group will make it far easier for you to have an emotional stake in the scene.

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Mood: [mood icon] contemplative · Music: none
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