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

Saturday (7/21/12) 3:37am - ... wherein Peter attends week 2, day 4 of the iO Summer Intensive.

Here are my notes from week 2, day 4 of the iO Summer Intensive.  Our instructor for week two was Colleen Doyle.

* "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:[1]
                * 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.
[1] 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.

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[User Picture]
Date:Friday (8/10/12) 1:21pm
(I'd say that iPhone use case makes the most sense. People generally don't want their phone calls inadvertently recorded.)
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[User Picture]
Date:Friday (8/10/12) 1:24pm
Oh yeah, I'd expect it to stop recording if I *answered* the phone.  But if the phone just rings and goes to voicemail, I would want the app to keep recording.
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[User Picture]
Date:Friday (8/10/12) 1:25pm
Hmm true.
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