* Warm-ups * 3-line character scenes: * Everyone gets in a circle. * One person enters the circle. * Takes on a character * Engages with somebody on the edge of the circle. * The edge person matches that character. * They do a three line scene. * Then the edge person trades into the center. * ... and, repeat. * Hopping. * Everyone gets in a circular huddle. * Everyone hops in the following pattern: * 8 times on the right foot. * 7 times on the left foot. * 6 times on the right foot. * 5 times on the left foot. * ... and so on, down to 1. * Then everyone does one short jump. * ... and says "HAH!" simultaneously. * Try to time it so everybody hops and HAHs exactly simultaneously. * Counter-intuitively, making eye contact through this exercise helps with the timing. * Openings: * Use sweep edits as a last resort. * Try to explore all the other possibilities for edits. * Always try to sense that lull that follows maximum heightening. * That's where the first scene wants to come in. * Always dig into the last offer, develop it, heighten it. * Every time you discard what you're developing and pick something new, the "heightening meter" resets to *zero* and you have to start all over again. * Note that this means you want to join the opening one at a time, so that each offer has a chance to land. * Me: once everyone's on stage, you still want the offers to land one at a time, spaced out, kind of like the counting game. * Don't enter on the periphery of the opening. * It puts you in an "outside looking in" position. * It makes the people "inside" the opening feel self-conscious. * It makes it harder to get the whole cast doing something together. * Ideally, you want to home in on *one* theme. * Develop that theme from start to finish. * Then, everybody comes away from it with that theme in mind. * Note: the theme might not be the thing that the opening *appears* to be about. * Trust your gut w/r/t what it's *really* about. * Most decent theater has a contrast between "what it's about" versus "what it's *really* about." * i.e., the "ritual" opening we did was actually about "growing up." * Deep down, every opening is really an invocation. * It has that arc from "specific detail" to "big, broad themes". * If there's specific narration/plot in the opening, that's equivalent to the "it is" part. * If somebody embodies a character in that narration, that's equivalent to "you are". * Note that you should never "ratchet back" to an earlier "invocation level". * Your job in the opening is to go from "audience word" to "giant theme". * The opening is for the *players*, not the audience. * It's to give you that big, juicy theme to make the show about. * So why would you ever retreat from doing that in an opening? * A clear theme is a blessing for the rest of the show. * It kills the "agony of choice" problem. * i.e., "Oh god, this scene could be about absolutely *anything*." * It gives you a general compass heading for all the scenes to go towards. * Once you have the theme, grab onto it like a pit bull & heighten it. * Hit the 3/7/10 heightening as quickly as you can. * Once you hit 10, STOP THE OPENING. * Our openings tend to hit 10 and then linger on for a couple of pointless, energy-killing minutesa. * It's okay to hit the theme on the head with a few spoken words at the end of the opening. * Especially if only about 80% of the cast are clear on what that theme is. * 1st Beats. * Aim to make these grounded two-person scenes. * i.e., not games. * Save games for 2nd and 3rd beats. * We have to establish relationships that the audience cares about. * Otherwise, it'll be hard as hell to engage them for the rest of the show. * If it's realistic and meaningful, then the audience trusts that you guys know your shit. * Ideally, you've only got six characters to deal with (from the three scenes). * Try to name all of them. * You absolutely must hit the theme from the opening. * If the opening didn't nail a theme, then the first 1st-beat scene absolutely must. * Don't be afraid to be too on-the-nose here. * You can really just hammer away at that theme. * If it's unclear how your work relates to the main theme, it's okay to explicitly "hat tip" to the theme. * It's just a quick bit of reassurance for the audience. * The 2nd 1st-beat scene * It continues the theme from the 1st 1st-beat scene. * Note that if an additional pattern appears in those first two 1st-beat scenes, try to continue that pattern into the 3rd 1st-beat scene. * "Worst Scene Ever" * Simple: get two people up; have them do the worst scene ever. * The actual results of this: * Performers tend to pick very strong points of view. * They usually end up pursuing a strong objective. * ... one that is somehow concordant with "do bad improv" * It gives the performers a task to focus on. * This tends to let them get out of their own way. * Then, the performers' natural tendencies towards pattern-building come to the fore. * "Experimental Film" * Based on a one-word suggestion, pretend you're in an experimental film based on that suggestion. * Everyone performs simultaneously, throughout the theater space. * Go full crazyballs on this. * Side note: this seems like a perfect candidate for the Hideout's Free Fringe. * General Notes: * Good note for counting in a circle: * "Wait 'til it's your turn." * "When it's your turn, you'll *know*." * "Eating asparagus." * This comes up when something happens that is antithetical to your character's POV. * If this happens, you have two choices: * Rebel and don't do the action. * Go ahead and grudgingly do the action. * Doing the action -- i.e., "eating the asparagus" -- is usually the better option. * It's very engaging to watch a character do something they absolutely don't want to do. * Me: c.f. Jill Bernard's "crying stripper" go-to. * Always edit such that the audience wants to see *more* of what you just did. * Never wait for them to tire of the scene. * Aim for a variety of edits. * Not just sweeps and swarms. * If your scene is edited really fast... * ... don't be offended. * It just means your idea was so strong that the idea alone can come back later in the show. * It's okay for an initiating line to establish (say) environment or situation. * Just trust that whatever premise you have in your head will get blown away by the next thing your scene partner says. * Your top priority is still character/POV. * Me: ... and for establishing environment, spacework > dialog. * It's usually a good strategy in class to explicitly pick out the non-scene-initiating types (e.g. me) and have them start scenes. * If you're initiating a scene, go ahead and say your opening line as you walk off the back line. * This gets rid of the dead energy at the start of the scene. * It also makes it harder for the other guy to obliterate your initiation. * If you're in one half of a split scene, try not to look at the other half. * This tends to glom the two scenes together. * Or at the very least, it makes it much less obvious that we're watching a split scene. * Notes for me: * You tend to drive. * Always take time to let the other person's line land. * Even when taking on a big character, take the time to look and listen and be affected. * You're having a hell of a time drawing characters (not plot) from the opening. * So: try extra hard to do that. * You often drift into gossip about the future. * If that happens, find a way to bring it back into the scene. * My notes for myself: * I need to work on not dropping the theme. * Keep it in mind, especially through those first-beat scenes. * If you find yourself caught in plot/premise/gossip, don't panic. * You can always take what you're doing and ground it in character and POV and the here-and-now. * Just keep an eye on that, and keep it from getting away from you. * If something is too specific (i.e., premise), you can always *expand* that into a more-developed character. * Again, you just have to notice it happening and adjust.
Mood: contemplative · Music: none