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

Friday (8/10/12) 2:28pm - ... wherein Peter attends week 5, day 3 of the iO Summer Intensive.

Here are my notes from week 5, day 3 of the iO Summer Intensive.  Our instructor for week five was Miles Stroth.

* The Run:
        * This is the six-to-eight minute section towards the end of the show that really gains speed and momentum.
                * Note that pace is more important than content in the run.
                        * Do not pause between scenes.
                                * This gives the audience time to think and to judge you.
                                * Instead, we want the scenes to kind of wash over them.
                                * If someone initiates a scene, do NOT leave them hanging.
                                * Do NOT self-edit.
                                        * You're done with your scene ONLY when the next scene starts.
                        * Do lots of RUNNING.
                                * RUN onstage to start a scene.
                                        * Start your scene AS you're running onstage.
                                                * Don't wait to get in place to talk.
                                * RUN offstage to end a scene.
                                * These don't need to be sweep edits.
                                        * Just run to where you need to be.
                                * This ensures no dead space between scenes.
                                * This imparts energy to the run.
                                * This makes you more likely to get the accelerando pacing right.
                                * Do NOT do a scene while walking across the stage.
                                        * It adds no energy.
                                        * It implies that you aren't even aiming to *do* a real scene.
                        * This is the place to use tagouts.
                                * Tagouts impart energy and speed.
                                * Do NOT overuse tagouts and walk-ons in the comments.
                                        * Those will make the comment scenes run too fast.
                * The scenes get monotonically faster over the course of the run.
                        * (If a 5-second scene interrupts the early flow, just ignore that and continue progressing the pace as normal.)
                        * Do not let the run come to a dead stop.
                                * If it does, restart it as soon as you can...
                                        * ... but really, you've ruined the run by that point.
        * The run can include the opening characters.
                * But not both at once.
                        * Both opening characters onstage at once signals the last scene of the show.
        * The run can include material from before in its original context.
                * Unlike comment-scenes, you *don't* have to worry about recontextualization.
                        * Reminder: the comment-scenes should *not* include material from before in its original context.
        * It kicks off with a 30-to-40-second return to the opener's world.
        * Then, we have some 40-second scenes and some 30-second scenes.
                * These first scenes should explore "storyline characters".
                        * That is, characters alluded to, described, or clearly implied by the central story.
                                * An example of an implied character: a very strict, disciplined character might imply having had a very strict, disciplined father.
                * These are the longest scenes in the run, and we want to use them to really dig into the story characters.
                        * Be sure that each of the opening characters has associated story characters that we explore.
                                * If we've been exploring character #1's story-characters for a while, shift gears and explore character #2's story-characters.
                * Think of these as the scenes immediately *around* the opening scene.
                * Put off anything 'nutso' until we've nailed down that first batch of run-scenes.
        * For clarity: once one player has played a story character, nobody else gets to play that story character.
        * As the run goes on, the scenes get shorter.
                * As we get into these shorter scenes, we can start exploring tangents.
                * These tangents are very small things alluded to.
                        * Tangents also include mistakes the performers have made.
        * At the very end of the run: CHAOS!
                * Even when you're doing two-second scenes, you're still *trying* to do scenes.
                        * Run onstage.
                        * Set up your scene.
                        * Run offstage when you get edited.
                * Eventually, scenes will inevitably start running on top of each other.
                        * When this happens, roll with it.
        * If there is a film/book reference in the opening, weave it throughout the run.
                * Find correspondences between the reference and the show.
                        * If someone references The Hobbit, and the story includes a character similar to Gollum, make that guy Gollum.
                * Also: play *with* the reference.
                        * This is subtly different from "playing with the fact that there *was* a reference".
        * Runners are useful in the run.
                * But usually, you only want 3 beats for it.  Maybe 5.

* The Closing Scene:
        * You'll know we've gone from the run to the closing scene when both of the players from the opening are onstage.
        * The closing scene resumes the world of the opening.
        * There is a time jump, and it's either:
                * Way in the future.
                        * In this case, show the inevitable end of the two opening characters.
                                * In many cases, this is the implication that nothing will ever change for these people.
                        * Sometimes, the future scene can have some sort of reversal in the central relationship.
                * Way in the past.
                        * Typically, you're showing where the opening characters first met.
                                * They're usually played opposite to their current state somehow.
                
* General notes:
        * Some more notes about straight/absurd scenes:
                * Note that straight/absurd is the *game* of the scene.
                        * It doesn't preclude you from adding other things in the scene.
                                * You can still develop characters.
                                * You can still endow the world around you.
                                * You can still change moods.
                                * But through all that, you have to keep coming back to that straight/absurd game.
                * The straight man is still a character.
                        * i.e., you can do *more* than just repeat, "That's weird!"
                                * You can have characteristics.
                                * You can have a POV.
                        * Ideally, the straight man's character is the one that will make the absurd guy the most absurd.
                                * If the absurd guy flirts inappropriately with everyone, make the straight man a priest.
                * The straight man gets a lot of mileage from just repeating what the absurd guy has suggested, with a realistic point of view.
                        * Beyond that, though, you can invent material that makes the absurd guy even more weird.
                                * "You're always saying weird things!  Why, just last week, you said <x>!"
                * If your scene partner makes the scene double-absurd...
                        * Revert back to playing straight.
                                * Do it hard.
                                * Don't worry about credibility.
                                        * Saving the scene = more important.
        * If you have a strong foreign accent, be even louder onstage.
                * This helps the audience get over the hurdle of parsing out your accent.
        * Try not to do references that nobody will get.
                * If you do, make sure you at least include some details about the reference in your dialog.
        * Try not to do too many references.
                * 10 references: everything gets dissipated.
                * One book, one movie: good to go.
                        * Use those references.
                        * Make sure you don't drop or ignore them.
        * A good opening should make your teammates *hungry* to add theme and comment scenes.
        * Turn mistakes into *moves* whenever you can.
                * i.e., make the mistake part of the scene's universe.
                * Do *not* just point out the mistake in a "making fun of your teammates" sort of way.
        * A way of viewing the structure overall:        
                * The Opening:  "We're smart, we're capable of drama, we're creating something you care about."
                * The Theme Scenes:  "Here's what the opening was about, and by extension, what the show is about."
                * Back to the Opening:  "Let's really dig into those themes."
                * Comments:  "Here are the things that are fucked up in this world."
                * Back to the Opening:  "We're kicking off The Run."
                * The Run:  "We can be wacky and crazy and out-of-control."
        * "Ultimately, any form is just a net."
                * i.e., if you find something better than the form, that's fine.
                * But if all else fails, you can just do the form strictly-as-written, and you'll make something entertaining.
        * More about the opening:
                * If you hit a really emotional moment in the opening, you'll probably want to come back to that point a few times in the scene.
                * While watching the opening, you're looking for:
                        * The themes (what are these people basically about?)
                        * One or two comment scenes.
                                * There are 14 of you.  You don't all need to think up five of them.
        * More about comment scenes:
                * Relationships we see in the comment scenes should be different from the relationship established in the opening.
                * When prepping a comment scene, answer the question "*Why* does this fucked-up thing strike me as flawed?"
                        * (Question number 1 was, "What's fucked-up about this?")
                        * The more you can focus in on the thing that's wrong, the better off you are.
                        * Once you've honed in on that, you can expand out from it.
                                * Ask, "If this fucked-up thing is true, then what other simple things are likely to be true?"
                                        * Use that thinking to explore.                        
                * Comment scenes are heavily rewarded for precision and accuracy.
                        * i.e., the audience should know *exactly* what bit of the opener your scene is commenting on.
                * "Is this story element a tangent or a comment-thing?"
                        * It depends on whether the element is significant to the scene.
                                * Significant = comment.
                                * Insignificant = tangent.
                * If you can't see *anything* fucked-up to work with...
                        * ... then just pick a behavior.
                        * ... and ask, "who *shouldn't* act like <x>?"
                        * In the initiation, you'll have to nail things down explicitly.
                                * Show *exactly* how it connects to the opener.
        * More about theme scenes:
                * Remember that the theme isn't just *any* character attribute.
                        * It's that character's *flaw*.
                        
* My notes for myself:
        * Again, if your partner makes an offer you're likely to conflict with, TAKE THE CONFLICT.
                * Accept it as a gift.
                * "Yes, and" doesn't mean "happily agree to things your character would hate".
        * If you don't know what the opening is about, maybe hold off on doing a theme scene.

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Mood: [mood icon] contemplative · Music: none
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