?

Log in

No account? Create an account

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

Tuesday (7/24/12) 12:42am - ... wherein Peter attends week 3, day 1 of the iO Summer Intensive.

Here are my notes from week 3, day 1 of the iO Summer Intensive.  Our instructor for week three is Lindsay Hailey.

* Embarrassing stories!
        * First, the stories:
                * Everyone sits in a circle.
                * Each student volunteers an embarrassing story.
                * At the end of the story, everyone applauds.
                * Then, we pick a nickname for the student.
        * (Yes, this also works for cast bonding and for the teacher getting to know the cast.)
        * Then, scenes:
                * We do scenes that draw on these stories.
                * We can bring in whichever story elements we like.
        * When drawing from a story, it's more useful to draw a *character* from the story than a *premise*.
                * And you definitely don't want to re-enact plot.
                * You can always hold on to your character, regardless of what the plot does.
                * OTOH, if you try to set up a plot for your scene, the next line of dialog can obliterate those plans.
        * At the same time, remember that a scene doesn't have to be *about* its characters' personalities.
                * "I am clumsy" != "This is a scene about teaching me to be graceful."
                * "I am clumsy" *can* = "This is a scene where we break up.  And by the way, I'm clumsy."
                * "Teaching scenes" usually lead to scenes *about* the character trait.
                        * Me: and they're usually about trying to quash the character trait in question.
                                * Why would you want to obliterate thing main thing that makes the character unique.
        * Since you're not pushing plot (you're pushing character), you can hold off of trying to set up story with your words.
                * So instead, you can focus on emotional responses.
                * Emotional responses foster relationships between characters.
        * Likewise, don't establish your character through expository dialog.
                * Don't say, "I am so clumsy!"  Just *be* clumsy.
                * Don't talk about who you are.  *Live* it.
        * When you have this character established, you typically want to heighten it.
                * First take it to a "3", then to a "7", then max it out to a "10".
                * Heightening helps make this scene the most important scene in the character's life.
                        * "Today's the day."
                * It's okay to do this heightening quickly.
                        * It's okay to get done fast.
                        * Me: remember that an improv scene is typically only a few minutes.
                                * This means you can't go at "movie speed".
                        
* The Ad Game.
        * Everyone sits in a circle.
        * Start with a real-life problem a student will be dealing with.
        * Someone proposes a product that could address that problem.
        * Everyone develops that product.
                * Lots of positivity and support.
                        * Don't half-ass it.
        * Note: develop based on *the last thing said*.
        * Do NOT do this:
                1. Think of something funny.
                2. Wait for an opportunity to wedge it into the discussion.
                3. Force it in there.
        * This game makes it really obvious when somebody is responding to and developing the last thing said, versus when somebody is just wedging in their own funny.

* Object opening.
        * We get a suggestion of a large object.
        * The class comes onstage one at a time to embody the object.
                * Try to do the same enthusiastic, simple, direct support you did in the ad game.
                * And again, you're not just waiting to shoehorn in your cool/funny idea.
        * Then the opening develops from there.
        * Attend to lulls in the opening.
                * Those might be good times to go to the first scene.
        * If a single performer splits off from the group and does something new....
                * ... pay attention.
                * Listen to the new action.
                * Let it affect you.
                * Respond to it.
                
* "I love you" scenes.
        * We get a location from the audience.
        * Then, two performers do a scene in that location.
        * The only dialog they can say is "I love you."
        * This is designed to illustrate how little the words matter.
                * The delivery matters.
                * Physicality matters.
                * Eye contact sure as hell matters.
                * Actual words? don't matter.
        * Follow the shape of the scene.
                * If it feels like it's going intimate, respect that.
        * Really slow down.
                * Observe & respect the last thing done.
        * Let the elimination of dialog make the relationships simple and obvious.
        
* Soundscape opening.
        * Get a single word from the audience.
        * One person makes a noise, inspired by that word.
        * The next person makes a noise, inspired by that word...
                * ... but also cueing off of the feel of that *first* sound offer.
        * Eventually, everyone is making a noise.
        * This soundscape goes on for a while.
        * Eventually, this soundscape inspires a character initiation.
                * Note that this initiation may be (hell, probably will be) completely removed from the initial word.
                        * e.g. our "lemon" soundscape led many of us to imagine a hospital.
                        * Commit to what the soundscape *feels* like, to you.
        * As soon as the first performer steps out...
                * ... support the *shit* out of him/her.
                * Commit to that performer's feeling, environment, etc.
                * Everyone physically & wholeheartedly support it.
        * This group action becomes your opening.
                * Like with any opening, follow it where it goes.
        * Ideally, the whole cast will come away from that opening with the same one-word theme.
                * Regardless, a simple theme can inspire lots of *characters* to play.
                        * And, unlike plot &/or premise, those *characters* can live in any world at all.
        * Our exercise: everyone in class come up with a character inspired by that opening's theme.
                * Note that if the connection between your character and the opening is non-obvious, you may want to do a little "hat-tip" to the audience, explaining the connection.
        * 
                
* General Notes:
        * Keep the scenes about the here, now, & people onstage.
                * Whenver possible, make active choices that steer us away from gossip and into action happening here and now.
                * Make the scene *about* the relationship we're seeing onstage.
                        * Make everything else window-dressing.
        * Eye contact is huge.
                * It's riveting to watch.
                        * Audiences like watching *connection*.
                * Me: it keeps you checked in with your scene partner.
                * Default to maintaining eye contact.
                * Don't let spacework make you drop eye contact.
                        * ... or vice versa.
                        * Although, in a pinch, eye contact > spacework
        * Don't let dialog make you drop your spacework.
        * Scene elements we'll work on:
                * Show don't tell.
                * Say yes.
                        * Specifically say yes to the performer, not the character.
                                * If a character says, "No, don't hit me again!", saying yes involves hitting them again.
                * Establish who, what, and where.
                        * Prioritize "who" -- i.e., relationship.
                        * Relationship gets the audience's engagement.
                        * Ideally, you're related to your scene partner in multiple ways.
                                * e.g., "You're my boss *and* my father-in-law."
                        * One way to deepen relationship:
                                * Answer the question, "Why do I *need* this other person?"
        * If you're confused, odds are your character is confused.
                * So use that.
        * Frequent directions:
                * "This scene isn't about <unseen character>."
                * "Mr. Jefferson is also your <relationship to you>."
                * "Shoot the grandma."
                        * This means, "Pull the trigger on whatever would make this scene genuinely emotional."
                        * Do the action that you can't ever take back.
                        * Do NOT spend the whole scene bridging to that action.
                                * i.e., don't put it off to the end.  Do it NOW.
                                
* Notes for myself:
        * I had lots of trouble committing to any choices in the "I love you" scene.
        * With my "character inspired by an opening" scene:
                * I could have engaged with Steen's eye contact a lot more.
                * I could have hit my preacher's mantra a lot more.
                * I could have let his character win.

Tags: , ,
Mood: [mood icon] contemplative · Music: none
Previous Entry Share Next Entry