* Warm-ups: * Sending patterns around a circle. * Get everyone in a circle. * Person 1 and 2: * Make eye contact. * Clap simultaneously. * Say "one" simultaneously. * Person 2 and 3 do the same. * Only they say "two" instead. * And so on, around the circle. * It resets to "one" once it gets back around. * Once this is going for a bit... * Person 2 sends a second pattern around the circle. * This one is different from numbers. * We find out what the pattern is after it starts. * See how many simultaneously patterns you can get going. * Verbal/noise scenes. * Split the class into two lines. * Do a series of two-handers. * The person from line 1 initiates the scene verbally. * The person from line 2 responds with a nonverbal noise before continuing. * (It could also be a short interjection ["Oh yeah!"]) * About week 4. * Week 4 is about putting together full Harolds. * Technically, "Harold" is the term for this whole Chicago branch of longform. * There is no "Harold Police" that will arrest you if you don't follow all its structural rules. * A form should *inspire* you, not *restrict* you. * Try to work in a form that puts you at your best and happiest. * If you have to explain the form to the audience for them to get it, the show is failing. * What do we remember from week 3? * Audiences always appreciate realism. * Technically, I mean "believeable" and not "realistic". * Stories can be believeable *without* being realistic. * Example: the _Harry Potter_ series. * Audiences hate it when you're desperate to be funny. * Laughs are actually pretty rare in an improv show. * Maybe 1 line in 10 gets a laugh. * So there's no need to be funny *immediately*. * Characters don't have to be far from yourself. * A normal character can help ground an outlandish situation. * Good Harolds have lots of listening and mutual support. * They have 1st beats that you get emotionally invested in. * Bad Harolds have lots of self-indulgence. * There's lots of "No, look at *meee*!" competition. * The openings and group games feel tedious and perfunctory. * Find *joy* in the process. * "Film Festival": * Pick three films at random. * Pretend you've attended a film festival showing these three films. * See if you can guess the theme shared by those three films. * Note that even though the choices were arbitrary, valid shared themes still show up. * And there are lots of possible themes. * Transitioning from "Film Festival" to a Harold. * Now, do the same thing, only with three scenes-from-nothing. * Again, you'll be able to pick out possible themes. * Now, add a simple group game: * Do three scenes. * If someone sees a theme shared by all three, s/he can start an opening. * We'll do a dirt-simple opening that starts with "direct address". * i.e., the performer walks DC and tells the audience directly, "Hey, isn't it funny how people never have enough time for what really matters to them?" * With practice, you can move to a "direct address in context". * e.g., the head of a performance group from that travels to high schools, intro-ing their show. * Follow this up with monologs from the other performers. * Either true stories from your life, or grounded monologs in character. * Keep the monologs specific and detailed. * Detailed monologs are easier to draw characters from. * Vague monologs only give you the general situation. * Then, do three more scenes inspired by the monologs. * Don't do *literal* takeaways from the monologs. * Instead, take concepts from the monologs and bring them into new contexts. * This is "deconstruction" (in the improv sense). * If the first scene accidentally does a literal takeaway from the monologs... * Then screw it, all three scenes should. * This new batch of scenes = "2nd beats". * With 1st beats, you're doing free-form "scenes from nothing". * This is more about exploring. * With 2nd beats, people usually hit the stage with something in mind. * This changes things a bit. * You want to directly hit your intention with that first line. * ... which is really all you have control over in that scene. * Generally, you can never say something that's obvious (to you) too much. * Stating the obvious always makes the audience feel smart & validated. * If it's a *clear* 2nd-beat scene, then everyone will want to join in and add stuff. * Note that you can always *hold* those funny ideas for later in the show. * 2nd beat scenes are less about exploring and more about finding funny things to say or do. * This also means it's not so important that the characters know each other in 2nd beats. * Don't feel like the 2nd beats have to reflect the 1st beats at all. * There are lots of ways to lift elements from 1st beats and bring them into 2nd beats. * We'll learn about all those later. * Better to err on the side of "too disconnected from the 1st beats" at this point, so as too avoid "too slavish to the 1st beats". * "We See Eight" * Get eight people onstage. * They get a suggestion like "We see eight apologetic pirates." * One of the eight takes on that persona. * One at a time, each of the eight joins them in being that persona. * Eventually, the teacher will suggest another persona with another "We see eight..." prompt. * Or, the eight will tire of the current persona. * At that point, one of them will initiate something else. * Either with a verbal ("We see eight...") prompt. * Or by clearly taking on a different, new persona. * Your main priority is to match the initiator's character and affect. * Commit to it. * This is much more important than matching whatever verbal pattern they speak in. * With practice, the teacher gives less specific suggestions. * "We see eight businessmen." * At this point, the first initiator should make specific choices for that persona. * And the remaining performers should notice, respect, and dig into those choices. * Characters can acknowledge one another, but shouldn't talk to each other. * If you get diverted into dialog, you veer towards plot or world-building, and away from exploring this persona. * Instead, just treat it as a heightening game. * "Who can be the most apologetic and piratey?" * The stage picture for this defaults to "everyone stands in a line". * FIGHT THIS. * It's especially useful/clear to initiate a new stage picture when you initiate a new persona. * You rarely see this exercise done just like this in shows. * That said, it's still a good skill to draw on in openings/games. * Openings * Perform an opening with three different games. * Games you can use include anything you've done before: * "We see eight", monologs, scene-painting, object-embodying, narrated story, soundscapes. * If the first monolog goes longer than expected, then do fewer monologs. * Don't have "dead air" between games. * Keep playing game #1 until somebody *cuts in* with game #2. * Note that this sort of opening will alternate between "rooms" (i.e., known games) and "hallways" (i.e., transitions). * So don't feel weird if you're exploring a weird transition for a while. * Every house needs hallways. * General notes: * We put more pressure on ourselves than the audience puts on us. * You can always dig into the "why?" of a scene. * Especially if a character is doing something weird/surreal/unmotivated. * It's perfectly okay, in such circumstances, to ask that character why they're doing something. * You can think of openings and games as analogous to all the non-scene footage in films. * e.g. establishing shots, optical wipes, montages, etc. * Obviously "scene rules" of improv don't *apply* to those sections. * Avoid "the after-school-special effect". * This is where you keep sententiously banging on the theme, usually in a moralistic way, in every scene. * It often involves too much of talking *about* problems. * ... and too little of experiencing drama in the here & now. * Remember that games can grow out of scenes, the same way that scenes can emerge from games. * The best pizza in Chicago is Pequod's, at Webster and Clybourne.
Mood: contemplative · Music: none