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

Wednesday (7/11/12) 11:53pm - ... wherein Peter attends week 1, day 3 of the iO Summer Intensive.

Here are my notes from week 1, day 3 of the iO Summer Intensive.  Our instructor for week one is Marla Caceres.

* Monologs
        * Get three people on the back line.
        * Give them a suggestion.
        * Each person delivers a brief monolog.
                * It's inspired by the suggestion.
                * It's honest and real-life.
                * Aim for details/specificity.
                * Try to make it about you.
                        * If it's nominally about your crazy Uncle Earl, ensure that it's *really* about *you*.
                * Emphasize/describe characters whenever you can.
        * When the three monologs are done...
                * Try to find themes that run throughout.
                        * Such themes will always crop up.
                        * Often, the strongest/most useful themes...
                                * ... have to do with personal relationships.
                                * ... are ideas you have strong feelings about.
                * Also pick out tangents/superficial things.
                        * These are flighty & fun things to play with.
                        * If you pick an item/object from the monologs...
                                * ... try to hold on to the feelings/relationships/symbolism associated with the object in your scenework.
        * The Deconstruction includes lots of methods of extracting information from scenes/monologs.
                * A 'commentary' = picking up on an absurd behavior, and *heightening* it to comment on it.
                        * You pick one specific aspect to heighten.
                                * Leave other aspects the same.
                                * Don't just make it random or absurd.
                                        * Heighten it, but stay in the same category.

* Test Armando.
        * This was a brief Armando, using a different monologist for each speech.
        * Remember that the form should pick up the pace/energy over time.
        * Don't criticize the monologist's avatar in a scene.
        * Remember that any previous material is fair game for inspiration in an Armando.
                * i.e., not just the previous monolog.

* Scene-Painting
        * = "Adding scenic detail as a non-character."
                * You can scene-paint settings or characters.
        * In this 'opening' version of scene-painting:
                * Any time someone establishes the object, the rest of the ensemble jumps in to:
                        * Physicalize the object (through mime or embodiment).
                        * Help describe the object (verbally).
                * Note that the ensemble can do this via clumping or flocking.
                        * Variation is good.
        * Jump into scene painting with alacrity and confidence.
        * Watch for patterns and support/repeat them
        * If something weird happens in the opening, take note of it.
                * The audience did.
                * Make sure you use the 'weird thing' in the show.
                        * The audience will want/expect you to.
        * If a pattern develops in the opening...
                * ... you can drop it and move on to something else...
                * ... or you can develop it 'til it becomes something new.
                        * If you commit, this *will* happen.
        * Try to exhaust describing one object before moving on to the next.
        * If you do a pattern and nobody else joins in, stick to your guns.
        * In 'flocking' stage painting, try to stay aware of the stage picture.
                * If the stage picture looks weird, that becomes one of those 'weird things' the audience just noticed.
        * Listing a lot of similar details in a setting can be a good and useful pattern.
                * But you don't always have to do it.
        * When a pattern is in progress, always watch it for new developments or changes in tone.

* Scene-paint opening, then 3 scenes.
        * Try to keep the 3 scenes disparate.
                * This gives you lots of material to build from.
                * This is as it would be in the start of a Harold.
        * Don't revisit elements in the first 3 scenes.
        * Don't do callbacks in the first 3 scenes.

* Scenework with secret objectives.
        * i.e. objectives scribbled on sheets of paper...
                * ... and chosen at random from a hat.
        * I got the "I want you to ask me out on a date" objective.
                * I did about as well with that as you'd expect.
        * Play your objective hard.
        * Remember: in scenework, you can always give *yourself* a secret objective.
        * Try to ground your goal in some internal motivation that's really central to your character.
                * "I want you to think I'm smart, *because* <x>."
        * You can temporarily drop the objective if the exigencies of the scene/realism demand it.
                * "Okay, you're on fire, I'm no longer concerned about making you think I'm smart.  Let's put this fire out."
* General notes:
        * Remember that for a sweep edit, you don't need as strong of an idea as to what the next scene is as you do with a tag-out.
                * For a sweep edit, you can step out with nothing and 'find the scene'.
        * For tag-outs, you don't have to take the tagee's place physically on stage.
                * e.g., you can show up on the opposite side of the stage, and reverse the staging.
                * Just do whatever is easiest/the most seamless.
        * Even when you see a strong tag-out, you have the option to just let things breathe.
                * A good game can, in some cases, kill a beautiful scene.
        * Wait a while -- 3 or 4 scenes, at least -- to do a callback to something.
        * If it's a high point in the scene, is that the time to edit?
                * Is it a 'bit', or have we just hit the emotional high point of the scene.
                        * Note that scenes can change gears -- from 'bit' to 'proper scene' midway through.
                        * Relted note: if you're doing a 'bit', always be ready to ground it into a scene.
                * Perhaps put another way, it depends on whether that high point is a button or a tilt.

* Notes for me:
        * Notes for myself:
                * Wow, I am so crap at noting themes across monologs.
                        * I default to "commentary".
                                * i.e., "whoa, *that* behavior was weird".
                * I get really thinky and hesitant when trying to extract scene setups from monologs.

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Date:Thursday (7/12/12) 8:37am
"I get really thinky and hesitant when trying to extract scene setups from monologs."

ME TOO. I get super in my head trying to map the monolog onto something else, and when I do come up with something, someone else has already jumped out.

I imagine that like anything else, it's a skill you build up like muscle memory.

"Don't criticize the monologist's avatar in a scene."
That's interesting, and nice. I think one of the few setups it's easy to think of straight off is "Wow, you did WHAT? I'm gonna do a scene about that, and point out how stupid/outrageous your behaviour is"
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[User Picture]
Date:Thursday (7/12/12) 2:19pm
One of the interesting things I notice in those objectives that you listed, and I wonder if this was stated explicitly in class, is that they are all something you want from the other person.
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Date:Thursday (7/12/12) 7:10pm
Yep, this was true of all the given objectives, and that fact was not mentioned in class.
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