* Embarrassing stories! * First, the stories: * Everyone sits in a circle. * Each student volunteers an embarrassing story. * At the end of the story, everyone applauds. * Then, we pick a nickname for the student. * (Yes, this also works for cast bonding and for the teacher getting to know the cast.) * Then, scenes: * We do scenes that draw on these stories. * We can bring in whichever story elements we like. * When drawing from a story, it's more useful to draw a *character* from the story than a *premise*. * And you definitely don't want to re-enact plot. * You can always hold on to your character, regardless of what the plot does. * OTOH, if you try to set up a plot for your scene, the next line of dialog can obliterate those plans. * At the same time, remember that a scene doesn't have to be *about* its characters' personalities. * "I am clumsy" != "This is a scene about teaching me to be graceful." * "I am clumsy" *can* = "This is a scene where we break up. And by the way, I'm clumsy." * "Teaching scenes" usually lead to scenes *about* the character trait. * Me: and they're usually about trying to quash the character trait in question. * Why would you want to obliterate thing main thing that makes the character unique. * Since you're not pushing plot (you're pushing character), you can hold off of trying to set up story with your words. * So instead, you can focus on emotional responses. * Emotional responses foster relationships between characters. * Likewise, don't establish your character through expository dialog. * Don't say, "I am so clumsy!" Just *be* clumsy. * Don't talk about who you are. *Live* it. * When you have this character established, you typically want to heighten it. * First take it to a "3", then to a "7", then max it out to a "10". * Heightening helps make this scene the most important scene in the character's life. * "Today's the day." * It's okay to do this heightening quickly. * It's okay to get done fast. * Me: remember that an improv scene is typically only a few minutes. * This means you can't go at "movie speed". * The Ad Game. * Everyone sits in a circle. * Start with a real-life problem a student will be dealing with. * Someone proposes a product that could address that problem. * Everyone develops that product. * Lots of positivity and support. * Don't half-ass it. * Note: develop based on *the last thing said*. * Do NOT do this: 1. Think of something funny. 2. Wait for an opportunity to wedge it into the discussion. 3. Force it in there. * This game makes it really obvious when somebody is responding to and developing the last thing said, versus when somebody is just wedging in their own funny. * Object opening. * We get a suggestion of a large object. * The class comes onstage one at a time to embody the object. * Try to do the same enthusiastic, simple, direct support you did in the ad game. * And again, you're not just waiting to shoehorn in your cool/funny idea. * Then the opening develops from there. * Attend to lulls in the opening. * Those might be good times to go to the first scene. * If a single performer splits off from the group and does something new.... * ... pay attention. * Listen to the new action. * Let it affect you. * Respond to it. * "I love you" scenes. * We get a location from the audience. * Then, two performers do a scene in that location. * The only dialog they can say is "I love you." * This is designed to illustrate how little the words matter. * The delivery matters. * Physicality matters. * Eye contact sure as hell matters. * Actual words? don't matter. * Follow the shape of the scene. * If it feels like it's going intimate, respect that. * Really slow down. * Observe & respect the last thing done. * Let the elimination of dialog make the relationships simple and obvious. * Soundscape opening. * Get a single word from the audience. * One person makes a noise, inspired by that word. * The next person makes a noise, inspired by that word... * ... but also cueing off of the feel of that *first* sound offer. * Eventually, everyone is making a noise. * This soundscape goes on for a while. * Eventually, this soundscape inspires a character initiation. * Note that this initiation may be (hell, probably will be) completely removed from the initial word. * e.g. our "lemon" soundscape led many of us to imagine a hospital. * Commit to what the soundscape *feels* like, to you. * As soon as the first performer steps out... * ... support the *shit* out of him/her. * Commit to that performer's feeling, environment, etc. * Everyone physically & wholeheartedly support it. * This group action becomes your opening. * Like with any opening, follow it where it goes. * Ideally, the whole cast will come away from that opening with the same one-word theme. * Regardless, a simple theme can inspire lots of *characters* to play. * And, unlike plot &/or premise, those *characters* can live in any world at all. * Our exercise: everyone in class come up with a character inspired by that opening's theme. * Note that if the connection between your character and the opening is non-obvious, you may want to do a little "hat-tip" to the audience, explaining the connection. * * General Notes: * Keep the scenes about the here, now, & people onstage. * Whenver possible, make active choices that steer us away from gossip and into action happening here and now. * Make the scene *about* the relationship we're seeing onstage. * Make everything else window-dressing. * Eye contact is huge. * It's riveting to watch. * Audiences like watching *connection*. * Me: it keeps you checked in with your scene partner. * Default to maintaining eye contact. * Don't let spacework make you drop eye contact. * ... or vice versa. * Although, in a pinch, eye contact > spacework * Don't let dialog make you drop your spacework. * Scene elements we'll work on: * Show don't tell. * Say yes. * Specifically say yes to the performer, not the character. * If a character says, "No, don't hit me again!", saying yes involves hitting them again. * Establish who, what, and where. * Prioritize "who" -- i.e., relationship. * Relationship gets the audience's engagement. * Ideally, you're related to your scene partner in multiple ways. * e.g., "You're my boss *and* my father-in-law." * One way to deepen relationship: * Answer the question, "Why do I *need* this other person?" * If you're confused, odds are your character is confused. * So use that. * Frequent directions: * "This scene isn't about <unseen character>." * "Mr. Jefferson is also your <relationship to you>." * "Shoot the grandma." * This means, "Pull the trigger on whatever would make this scene genuinely emotional." * Do the action that you can't ever take back. * Do NOT spend the whole scene bridging to that action. * i.e., don't put it off to the end. Do it NOW. * Notes for myself: * I had lots of trouble committing to any choices in the "I love you" scene. * With my "character inspired by an opening" scene: * I could have engaged with Steen's eye contact a lot more. * I could have hit my preacher's mantra a lot more. * I could have let his character win.
Mood: contemplative · Music: none