* First, get into neutral position. * Center your hip-bones above your feet. * Pretend a tiny rope is lifting your head. * ... and thus, straightening your spine. * Lift both sets of toes. * Then plant them one at a time. * This should set your feet squarely on the ground. * Note that this simple exercise is also a great thing to do just before you hit the stage. * Prepare with some stretching. * Remember, if your body is cold going *into* a show, you're unlikely to do anything physical *during* the show. * Don't half-ass your stretching. * Think about pulling apart opposite parts of your body. * Physicality can come from an objective. * Exercise: * Get everybody on stage. * Tell all the guys to grab the cup and then touch the UL door. * Tell all the ladies to grab the cup and then touch the UR door. * Then, throw a plastic cup on stage. * THIS IS SO FUN TO WATCH. * It's fun, because everyone commits to the objective. * Everybody *really is* trying to grab that cup. * Nobody's half-assing it. * The objective is very direct and obvious. * We're not manipulating other people to get what we want. * We're not being clever or nuanced. * We just WANT THE CUP NOW. * Useful quote: "Athletes are the best actors." * Because they really *believe* in what's going on. * Putting a ball through a hoop ABSOLUTELY MATTERS. * ... even though, on some level, it really doesn't. * Our goal is to believe in our scenes that much. * Even to the point that, when responding to side coaching, we *can't* completely drop the emotion. * Then, try the same objective, with limitations. * Examples of limitations: * Your legs are tied together. * Your belly has to stay on the ground at all times. * Your eyes are closed. * These are analogous to the limitations your "performer brain" can give your character in scenes. * A limitation can make achieving a simple objective an engaging struggle. * "I want to eat all the Chee-tos, BUT I don't want anybody at the party to *see* me eat all the Chee-tos." * "Excess give." * This is a physical form of "yes and". * With "give", somebody lightly pushes your shoulder, and your shoulder lightly wobbles back. * With *excess* give, somebody lightly pushes your shoulder, and you spin around and fall (safely) on the ground. * It's still a real touch, with real contact. * It's the *reaction* to that real contact that's heightened. * Giving someone your weight. * The key here is not just jumping in somebody's arms and screaming, "CATCH MEEEE!" * Because, maybe they can't. * And even if you can, the audience cringes. * ... because they're worried about your safety. * Instead, give your partner your weight in increments. * 10%, then 20%, then 30%, and so on. * Try to make the increments as small as possible. * Side benefit: this stretches out the action, which typically makes it funnier. * Don't do anything sudden * If you're giving weight, and you feel your scene partner buckle, *stop*. * If you're receiving weight, and you feel like you can no longer support your partner, *put them down*. * Physical conflict on stage. * Wrestling is useful. * Wrestling ends up making it about "which *actor* is stronger?" * ... instead of "which *character* is stronger?" * Now it's a sporting event. * ... and those are inherently engaging. * Also because, in a *real* contest... * The actors *believe* in the contest. * The actors *commit* to the contest. * 'Fight' until you're exhausted. * This exhaustion will come across as genuine. * It lets you briefly hit the 'reset' button on the fight. * A slight break for panting, then: MOAR FIGHTING! * "Scoring" * As a physical conflict continues, both characters can find ways to 'score'. * i.e., to get small victories along the way. * If your character is in the lead, it's useful to find ways to let the other guy 'score'. * In soccer terms, this is the difference between an exciting 3-2 match and a dull 10-0 blowout. * Note: we're talking about the *performer*, not the *character*, backing down. * 'Scoring' can force your opponent to try a new tactic. * Switching to new tactics is very useful. * It lets us burn through the normal strategies. * And then we're forced to resort to crazy strategies. * But the crazy strategies make sense in context. * After all, we've already tried every reasonable option. * In scenework, you usually burn through all verbal options before going to physical business. * It's all part of that heightening. * Cliff Notes version: know when to let your partner score a point. * Two characters fight onstage over something. * Your characters should have conflicting objectives. * If your characters do not have clear objectives, it won't feel like a fight. * It'll feel like a dance. * In the sense of its being pointless abstract motion. * Whatever goal you are fighting over, it should correspond to something physical onstage. Examples: * "We're fighting to get through that door there." * "She's fighting to grab this orange in my hand." * Making your objective(s) specific can help with this. * This also makes it more relatable. * This also allows for more forms of 'scoring.' * (See above.) * Try to visualize that onstage physical object in detail. * It's helpful to use "want words" here. * This is when you reduce your character's objective to a word or two. * Then, repeat that mantra-ish tidbit throughout the conflict. * These help keep the objective in the scene. * This helps distract your "word-brain" from trying to return the scene to Talky-town. * "Breath sounds" are also useful. * A breath sound is a sound carried by the breath. * Ideally, it should be an outgrowth of an emotion. * At the very least, it should convey emotion. * Note that your fighting characters NEEDN'T BE ANGRY. * Not angry => the audience likes you more. * A non-angry character is more likely to think of more interesting/insane tactics to burn through. * Me: often, in a fight, any average person would be angry. * Thus, picking something else tells you how this character is unique. * Remember that Chaplin was always a beleaguered optimist. * Fun with props. * Pick an object. * Larger objects are better. * ... b/c "Gross" (i.e., large) movements scan better from the audience. * These also keep your body busy. * This manages to distract you from judging yourself. * Find some space in the room. * Use the prop normally. * Now put aside the prop and spacework the same action. * Repeat this a few times 'til you get it down. * Note that this is something you can (and should) practice every day. * Now, try to use the object and fail, five times in a row. * Note that this requires your character to have a little ignorance and naïveté. * This is common for slapstick characters. * Failing at a simple use of an object = something you can practice. * Let the five failures have an arc. * Burn through the normal uses first. * By 5, you've gotten to 'crazyballs' uses of it. * Remember that 3, 4, & 5 get more intense. * Start using breath sounds and mantras on those. * Stay optimistic and reasonable. * Be surprised every time a strategy fails. * Feel optimistic about the next time, post-failure. * Be sure to pause and react to the failure. * This includes a moment to realize (to your astonishment) *that* you failed. * Make sure you fully explore each failure. * Don't withdraw from it. * Let each failure develop, heighten, and become as bad as possible. * Note that you can *always* find a way to make a failure worse. * "We can always make shit worse." * If other characters are present, watching, and straight-manning this scene, the situation becomes neven more embarrassing for the failing character. * Note that it's not the end of the world if, eventually, one of your strategies *works*. * In improv, we really never know if a character will achieve their objective or not. * And if the character gets what they want, we get to see what happens on the other side of that event. * If the character, by the end of the scene, loses -- that's a character we can bring back later. * It's okay to quickly heighten in improv/sketch. * Short form is based around 5-minute scenes. * ... ergo you can't move at "movie speed". * So go ahead and take your failures to the 8-10 range fairly quickly. * Note that sketch allows you to use real objects. * ... and sometimes real objects crop up in improv. * Failing that, you can always do object work. * You can always open a scene with a character messing up something physical. * Me: explore how that mistake makes you feel, and what that mistake might tell you about the character, and you'll start finding the character. * Characters with objects. * Again, try interacting with a real prop. * Then, try performing the same action with spacework. * Then, repeat both steps as a character. * e.g. "a cowboy", "a mortifician", and so on. * Using a character should affect how you do the action. * Note that this is a great way to start a scene. * It establishes the character's POV and environment. * All that's left after that is relationship. * Note that talking *about* the object... * ... is unrealistic. * ... it adds very little information. * ... it obviously signals to your partners, "I'm doing unclear spacework." * It's easy to prevent this by talking about other stuff. * General Advice: * Always show up onstage prepared for physical stuff. So: * No earrings or dangly jewelry. * Tie your hair back, if it's long. * No skirts. * Me: my wearing a dress shirt to this workshop was, perhaps, stupid. * Another reason to tie back your hair: it exposes your eyes. * Again, the audience experiences the scene through your eyes. * To get out of your head, go somewhere else. * You have three possible destinations: 1. Your environment. 2. Your world. * Eh, I think I wrote this down wrong. * Maybe 'want'? 3. Your scene partner's eyes. * In comedic physical work, always give the audience a bit of a wink. * This lets them know, "It's okay to laugh at this." * You especially want to do this when things feel heavy. * Breath sounds are useful here. * Whenever you want to pant, make a sound instead. * "Flair" is a useful way to wink. * This is small physical business that doesn't actually help you achieve your goal. * So if you're pushing against a barrier as hard as you can, and then lift your right leg behind you and waggle it, this is flair. * It serves no practical use whatsoever. * Flair helps assure the audience that you-the-performer are still in full control of the physical situation. * Climbing under someone's body is humiliating. * Also, it is hilarious. * Also also, the audience will love it, because you are getting to do something that they could *never* do. * On a related note, physical heightening should eventually land you horizontal on the ground. * That pretty much maxes out your helplessness and ridiculousness. * Remember that who you are onstage is pretty much the same as who you are offstage. * So, if you engage in some kind of regular physical practice in your day-to-day life (yoga, sports, dance), you're more likely to make physical choices onstage. * The audience always needs access to your face. * More specifically, your eyes. * The question you can always ask re: theater is "Would I stick around and watch this if I saw it happening in real life?" * Putting actions on a two-inch raised platform shouldn't make us completely reassess how we judge them. * People totally drop environment. * Even though environment really helps ground you in the scene. * Good environment helps establish the fourth wall. * Having a fourth wall means the audience is watching *characters*, not people. * This makes it okay to laugh at them.
Mood: contemplative · Music: none