* "Mary Zimmerman" * Done in groups of 3 or 4. * 3: * Stand in a triangle. * Everyone watches each other. * 4: * Stand in a square. * Opposite corners watch each other. * Do group mirroring. * As usual, heighten the offers you see until they become something else. * Pay as much attention as possible to your group. * Make eye contact with them. * Groups of 4 typically do 2 pairs of mirrorirng. * But the pairs can be influenced by each other. * This is a wacky, performance-art-y, "queerballs" exercise. * You can utterly deflate its power by: 1. Being sloppy 2. Forcing it to be funny. * Give it a chance to be powerful, scary, or whatever it needs to be. * Be sure to *sell* the material. * If you do, the audience will work to imbue it with meaning. * If some part of it makes you feel dumb, *double down* on it. * "Be the person who goes down with the ship." * All the groups in the class do the exercise simultaneously. * Then each group shows its 'piece' off for the group. * You'll forget some bits. * But you'll remember the important parts. * "The Porch Exercise" * This is a game for four or five players. * It's about discovering characters through action. * All of the players sit in a row onstage. * We start the scene with each character manipulating an object. * Each performer then discovers how that character *feels* about working with the object. * That *feeling* then informs who the character is. * You're shooting for an emotional POV that would still hold for the character if you removed the object. * Expand the emotion *beyond* the object. * Beyond that, you'll want to sort out: * How the characters know each other. * Where they are. * What event they might be watching together. * It's very helpful to endow your fellow performers. * Especially with names. * Repeat the exercise, but give all the performers the *same* activity (e.g. shucking corn) * Remember, each person can hold a different attitude towards the activity. * "Busby Berkeley" * This is named after the famous movie choreographer. * Known for elaborate, symmetrical dance scenes. * ... with large numbers of dancers. * Arrange the group from shortest to tallest, in a line DC to UC. * The frontmost person does some physical action. * The second person either matches or complements that action. * Repeat this for every pair of people in the group. * If there's an odd man out at the end, that person gets to do whatever s/he likes. * Ideally, people doing this exercise should use sounds. * Once everyone in the line is doing an action, the frontmost person "peels off" and goes to another part of the stage. * Then the second person, the third, and so on. * As you do this, maintain interesting symmetries onstage. * Note that the motions can evolve over time. * You aren't married to your initial action. * Planned pieces. * The class is split into teams. * The teams are given a one-word theme to work with. * The teams spend five minutes preparing a performance-art piece. * You won't just improvise a scene. * Go "full queerballs" with this. * Don't make something safe. * Instead, make something challenging, abstract, and weird. * In the 5-minute meeting, get legitimately excited about your friends' ideas. * If an idea seems problematic, get excited anyway. * "Make a pyramid? Great! Okay, how do we do that?" * In these meetings, you have to both initiate ideas and respond to them. * The piece finds its own ending. * The teacher doesn't call 'scene'. * As always, doing stuff all-together is really satisfying. * Individual feedback. * One at a time, we got up on stage, and received feedback: * Our fellow students said what they loved about playing with us. * Our teacher described characters out of our comfort zone that they'd like to see us play. * After every two performers, we'd see those two people do a scene together, as the 'difficult characters' described. * General notes: * Negative emotions are problematic to play. * You usually have to amp them up a bit. * You need to figure out how to channel them into positive objectives. * (i.e., "I *want* <x>", as opposed to "I *do not want* <y>") * Positive emotions tend to be easy to play. * Be paranoid about detecting when fellow performers give you endowments. (e.g., "Is everything okay at home?") * Don't shrug off/block them (e.g., "Yeah. Things are fine.") * Notes for me: * Here is the positive feedback I got back from my class: * I see all the moves in a scene, and generally know the different ways it can go. * I'm very very generous, giving lots of offers & gifts to my fellow players. * I'm a very strong narrator. * I have a really good handle on genres. * I'm capable of owning the stage (w/good stage presence) or hanging back, depending on what the scene needs. * Panicking improvisors can rely on me to land a scene safely when one of the engines blows out. * I'm great & precise with words. * I am almost never inadvertently stammer-y or tongue-tied in scenes. * My monologs are great, poetic pieces of work. * I have good comic timing. * I have a very strong 'helicopter mind' * AKA the part of your brain that hovers above the scene and observes it. * Here are the character tendencies/notes I got from the teacher: * I tend to play heady, thoughtful, responsible, high-status characters. * They have their shit together. * My energy is rarely still. * I lead motion from my limbs rather than my core. * Me: I tend to fidget. * This all tends to disperse my character's energy. * Me: which is fine, but it should be a deliberate choice. * Try playing a low-status flake. * Somebody easily distracted, who you really wouldn't trust with sharp scissors, because he'd probably find a way to hurt himself and somehow also ruin your scissors into the bargain. * Notes for myself: * I had trouble endowing my fellow performers in the Porch Game. * If your fellow player is complaining about something, don't buckle down or make the problem go away. * If anything, offer *more* resistance. * This way, the performer can dig in and discover more things about his/her character. * I cannot identify high-/low-status tendencies among my fellow players for the life of me. _______  One of the few cases where I'll ask directly for praise: I wasn't actually taking notes during the feedback session, b/c I didn't want to have my head buried in my notepad while people were trying to be nice to me. I set up my iPhone to voice-record the session, but just as the session started, I received the only phone call I'd gotten in three days. The iPhone took this as a cue to stop recording, because iPhones are stupid. If anybody remembers anything I missed from this lovely ego-supporting event, let me know.
Mood: contemplative · Music: none