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

Friday (7/27/12) 12:25pm - ... wherein Peter attends week 3, day 4 of the iO Summer Intensive.

Here are my notes from week 3, day 4 of the iO Summer Intensive.  Our instructor for week three was Lindsay Hailey.

* Warm-ups:
        * A fun variation on the enemy/defender game:
                * At some point, the warm-up leader shouts, "SWITCH!"
                * At that point:
                        * Your enemy is now your defender.
                        * Your defender is now your enemy.

* Pairwise work:
        * Everyone pair up.
        * POV via spacework:
                * Each pair collaborates on some bit of spacework business.
                        * e.g. "fixing a cabinet"
                * Each person discovers their POV via the spacework.
                * Once that's done, they start a conversation about something other than the activity.
        * POV via expression:
                * Each couple makes eye contact.
                * Person #1 makes a facial expression.
                * Person #2 initiates a scene.
        * POV via eye contact:
                * Each couple makes eye contact.
                * They hold eye contact 'til they collectively arrive at a mood.
                * Then, initiate a scene.
        * Carry out a scene with a 5-second pause after each line.
        * Have one person make an embarrassed face.
                * Then, start the scene from there.
* Using an improvised song as an opening:
        * As with our scenes, we have a lot of trouble hitting endings here.
        * A song-as-opening doesn't really 'engage' 'til it finds something thematic and/or emotional and/or relationshippy to dig into.
                * It might work as a pop song 'til then...
                * ... but it's not that useful as an opening.
* 10-minute Harolds:
        * That is, go through the entire form, in ten minutes.
        * Additional provisos:
                * All openings/games require the whole cast to build on the opening/game *one at a time*.
                * Every line of dialog must be followed by five seconds of silence.
        * Openings need to home in on a theme.
                * In an opening, offer #2 needs to respond to and develop offer #1.
                        * As opposed to offer #2 responding to and developing the original prompt.
        * In week 4, we'll talk about what elements are good to pull from 1st beats forward to 2nd beats.
                * Often, a strong character in a 1st beat should be the thing you re-use.
        * If you have to choose between following what the show needs and following the format, follow what the show needs.
* Realistic scenes about heavy subjects:
        * These are two-handers with a given "heavy" subject.
                * i.e. "You're breaking up."
        * Stay realistic.
                * Note that the scenes won't necessarily be funny.
                        * This class defaulted to angry confrontations in this exercise.
                                * This indicates a lot of trust within the class.
                                * But note that anger is not the only way to go with this.
        * Even if you're dealing with heavy material, deal with it head-on.
                * If you seem tentative or like you're tiptoeing around it, it makes the audience uncomfortable.
                * So: be brave.
        * iO scenes tend to operate by heightening.
                * (i.e. the "3/7/10" thing.)
                * So whenever a genuine emotional response pops up, and it feels like it's at the core of the scene, grab on to it and heighten it.
                        * Once it gets to 10, the scene is just about over.
                        * Me: note that any emotional response can be heightened.
                * You can also heighten physical patterns.
                        * A scene can segue into a purely physical game.
        * If you stumble onto an appealing verbal or physical tic, hold it for the rest of the scene.
                * You still want to be paranoid about noticing patterns.
                        * When you see them, respect them & repeat them.
        * Eye contact is incredibly useful here.
                * Me: note that you can force eye contact through dialog.
                        * ("Look at me!")

* General notes:
        * A frequent side-direction: "Stay on <x>."
                * Lindsay would give this note when it felt like the performers were about to drop something rich and useful, and go find something new.
                * This resets your heightening back to zero.
                        * i.e., you have to start over.
        * This class hugs the UC wall to much.

* Notes for me:
        * I initiate a lot of scene.
        * I hit plot pretty hard.
        * I deliver lots of exposition.
        * I often play frenetic characters.
        * I often don't let offers land on & affect me.
                * Especially when I do the "5 seconds of silence" rule.
        * I was given the challenge of playing a character who:
                * Kept his feet planted.
                        * Chest forward, shoulders back, high status.
                * Was silent.
                        * (Also: no pantomiming.)
                * Was angry.
                        * Unlikeably hateful.
                        * "Give yourself permission to be completely disliked by the audience."
                * I was playing a vexed 50s ex-military type.
                * Notes for the future:
                        * Use fewer words.
                        * Use less exposition.
                        * Trust that you're expressive enough just emoting.
        * My notes for myself:
                * I noticed that just waiting tended to filter out most of the exposition from my dialog.

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[User Picture]
Date:Monday (7/30/12) 11:14am
Peter, I was curious if you're documenting literally every exercise, or if you're leaving out warm-ups that you're familiar with, etc.
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[User Picture]
Date:Monday (7/30/12) 10:35pm
If it's an exercise or warm-up I've done before, I only document it if: (1) there's some difference from how I've usually done it; (2) it's used to illustrate points beyond just the exercise/warm-up itself; or (3) it's then expanded into a different form of the exercise I haven't seen before.

Almost all of our exercises/warm-ups have fallen into at least one of these categories, so I've left very little out.
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