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

Wednesday (8/1/12) 8:56pm - ... wherein Peter attends week 4, day 3 of the iO Summer Intensive.

Here are my notes from week 4, day 3 of the iO Summer Intensive.  Our instructor for week four is Bill Arnett.

* Warm-ups:
        * Whoosh-bang-pow with improvised moves.
                * This one had "vroom" instead of "whoosh".
                * Which led to all sorts of driving variations.
                        * "Ramp!"
                        * "Double-ramp!"

* Scene-painting teams.
        * Split the class into two teams.
        * Get a one-word suggestion.
        * Team 1 uses that as inspiration to do some scene painting.
        * At some point, team 2 uses one of the team-1 offers as inspiration to start a secondround of scene painting.
        * And so on, back and forth.
        * You can transition to the new scenes in various ways:
                * "This clock reminds me of this giant bell tower."
                * "We match-cut from the fireplace to a raging inferno."
                * "A hundred years later, the cottage lies in ruins."
        * For this scene painting:
                * Go quickly.
                * Don't bother embodying objects.
                * Just establish your object, then leave.

* 2-person Frustration Scenes
        * Split the class into two lines.
        * Do a series of two-person scenes.
        * Person 1 imitates someone in their life who really annoys them.
        * Person 2 responds realistically to that.
        * You have many options for person-2 behavior:
                * Silently suffer.
                * Call out person 1's awful behavior.
                * Threaten to leave.
                        * This forces person 1 to try a new strategy.
                * Get pushed to your breaking point, then explode.
        * As person 1, when person 2 asks you to stop doing your annoying behavior...
                * ... you can agree to stop doing it.  Then, keep doing it.
                
* Press Conference:
        * This is the game where someone is giving a press conference and the reporters get insistently stuck on some misinterpretation of the announcement.
                * Other situations are possible:
                        * Inspiring football-coach speech.
                        * Museum-exhibit tour.
                        * Sermon.
        * This is another game where you want to dig into the 1st offer.
                * ... as opposed to dropping it and picking up something new.
                * Just keep developing that first screw-up.
                * Analogous to developing the current offer in the Harold.
        * The conference-giver has the job of getting more and more frustrated.
        * This is another situation where you can "say 'yes' but do 'no'".
                * That is, claim you understand the presenter's explanation...
                        * ... but persist in your misunderstanding.
        * N.B.: you can *do* a press-conference game *in a Harold!*
        
* Group scenes:
        * Why are group scenes difficult?
                * It's hard to check in with everyone.
                * It's easy for everyone to wander off on their own track.
                * People are too enthusiastic.
                        * Everyone wants to quickly contribute offers.
                                * And you get 'offer soup'.
                        * Everyone wants to talk all the time.
                                * And people start talking over each other.
        * Note that the press-conference game ameliorates these problems.
                * This is because, in press conference, there are only two points of view.
                        * This, even though there are more than two people.
                * This is always an option for group scenes.
                        * Especially for clearly *starting* a group scene.
        * An exercise: do a three-person scene with only two points of view.
                * Note that the "same POV" pair needn't be twins.
                        * They could have different physicalities.
                        * They could have different roles (e.g. "tough guy & lackey").
                * Once you have the hang of 3, try working with larger groups.
                
        
* Harolds
        * Generally, you want to get *away* from the opening theme.
                * You want to get some distance from it.
                * This makes it so that the story "snaps" -- tension is released -- when you finally get *back* to the material from the opening.
                * You also don't want to burn through all the possible theme-related material in, like, ten minutes.
                * Me: it seems like having (say) your 1st-beat scene emerge from the opening can make this harder to do.
        * You want to take the opening material and make it broader, deeper, more thematic, less specific/literal.

* General notes:
        * Spectacle:
                * Every show is really two shows:
                        * The story that you're presenting.
                        * The spectacle of improvisors trying to do a show.
                * A similar thing:
                        * You don't watch Bob Ross to learn how to paint.
                        * You watch Bob Ross to watch him paint.
                * Improv exists on a spectrum:
                        * On one end, you eschew spectacle completely.
                                * To the point that you don't even care if the audience can see or hear you.
                        * On the other, it's all spectacle.
                                * To the point that there's no story.
                * To some extent, satisfying genre expectations = spectacle.
                * Big mainstage shows often have more sepctacle.
                * Highlighting the difficulty of a game is a form of spectacle.
        * Ideally, the ending recaps as much material as possible.
                * It's much easier to hit a strong ending if you had a strong, memorable opening.
        * Tagouts and walk-ons.
                * These tend to increase the pace of their scenes.
                        * For this reason, we want to hold off on them 'til later in the show.
                                * (... which is when we *want* the pace to increase.)
                * They give us a whole lot of information about some very narrow aspect of the scene.
                        * ... often to the detriment of knowing the basic facts about the scene in general.
                * If your choice kicks off a tag-out run, that means your cast *liked* that choice.
                * If you want to do a quick walk-on to support the scene *without* kicking off a run of tag-outs...
                        * ... keep your energy slow and contained.
                        * ... don't draw focus; stay upstage if you can.
                        * ... make your entry un-glorious, un-fun, un-attractive, and perfunctory.
                                * Just do what you need to do for the scene, and get out.
        * Your character can always "lose the scene" (i.e., let the *other* character get what s/he wants) without losing his or her character.

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Mood: [mood icon] contemplative · Music: none
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