Here are my notes from week 4, day 3 of the iO Summer Intensive. Our instructor for week four is Bill Arnett.
* Whoosh-bang-pow with improvised moves.
* This one had "vroom" instead of "whoosh".
* Which led to all sorts of driving variations.
* Scene-painting teams.
* Split the class into two teams.
* Get a one-word suggestion.
* Team 1 uses that as inspiration to do some scene painting.
* At some point, team 2 uses one of the team-1 offers as inspiration to start a secondround of scene painting.
* And so on, back and forth.
* You can transition to the new scenes in various ways:
* "This clock reminds me of this giant bell tower."
* "We match-cut from the fireplace to a raging inferno."
* "A hundred years later, the cottage lies in ruins."
* For this scene painting:
* Go quickly.
* Don't bother embodying objects.
* Just establish your object, then leave.
* 2-person Frustration Scenes
* Split the class into two lines.
* Do a series of two-person scenes.
* Person 1 imitates someone in their life who really annoys them.
* Person 2 responds realistically to that.
* You have many options for person-2 behavior:
* Silently suffer.
* Call out person 1's awful behavior.
* Threaten to leave.
* This forces person 1 to try a new strategy.
* Get pushed to your breaking point, then explode.
* As person 1, when person 2 asks you to stop doing your annoying behavior...
* ... you can agree to stop doing it. Then, keep doing it.
* Press Conference:
* This is the game where someone is giving a press conference and the reporters get insistently stuck on some misinterpretation of the announcement.
* Other situations are possible:
* Inspiring football-coach speech.
* Museum-exhibit tour.
* This is another game where you want to dig into the 1st offer.
* ... as opposed to dropping it and picking up something new.
* Just keep developing that first screw-up.
* Analogous to developing the current offer in the Harold.
* The conference-giver has the job of getting more and more frustrated.
* This is another situation where you can "say 'yes' but do 'no'".
* That is, claim you understand the presenter's explanation...
* ... but persist in your misunderstanding.
* N.B.: you can *do* a press-conference game *in a Harold!*
* Group scenes:
* Why are group scenes difficult?
* It's hard to check in with everyone.
* It's easy for everyone to wander off on their own track.
* People are too enthusiastic.
* Everyone wants to quickly contribute offers.
* And you get 'offer soup'.
* Everyone wants to talk all the time.
* And people start talking over each other.
* Note that the press-conference game ameliorates these problems.
* This is because, in press conference, there are only two points of view.
* This, even though there are more than two people.
* This is always an option for group scenes.
* Especially for clearly *starting* a group scene.
* An exercise: do a three-person scene with only two points of view.
* Note that the "same POV" pair needn't be twins.
* They could have different physicalities.
* They could have different roles (e.g. "tough guy & lackey").
* Once you have the hang of 3, try working with larger groups.
* Generally, you want to get *away* from the opening theme.
* You want to get some distance from it.
* This makes it so that the story "snaps" -- tension is released -- when you finally get *back* to the material from the opening.
* You also don't want to burn through all the possible theme-related material in, like, ten minutes.
* Me: it seems like having (say) your 1st-beat scene emerge from the opening can make this harder to do.
* You want to take the opening material and make it broader, deeper, more thematic, less specific/literal.
* General notes:
* Every show is really two shows:
* The story that you're presenting.
* The spectacle of improvisors trying to do a show.
* A similar thing:
* You don't watch Bob Ross to learn how to paint.
* You watch Bob Ross to watch him paint.
* Improv exists on a spectrum:
* On one end, you eschew spectacle completely.
* To the point that you don't even care if the audience can see or hear you.
* On the other, it's all spectacle.
* To the point that there's no story.
* To some extent, satisfying genre expectations = spectacle.
* Big mainstage shows often have more sepctacle.
* Highlighting the difficulty of a game is a form of spectacle.
* Ideally, the ending recaps as much material as possible.
* It's much easier to hit a strong ending if you had a strong, memorable opening.
* Tagouts and walk-ons.
* These tend to increase the pace of their scenes.
* For this reason, we want to hold off on them 'til later in the show.
* (... which is when we *want* the pace to increase.)
* They give us a whole lot of information about some very narrow aspect of the scene.
* ... often to the detriment of knowing the basic facts about the scene in general.
* If your choice kicks off a tag-out run, that means your cast *liked* that choice.
* If you want to do a quick walk-on to support the scene *without* kicking off a run of tag-outs...
* ... keep your energy slow and contained.
* ... don't draw focus; stay upstage if you can.
* ... make your entry un-glorious, un-fun, un-attractive, and perfunctory.
* Just do what you need to do for the scene, and get out.
* Your character can always "lose the scene" (i.e., let the *other* character get what s/he wants) without losing his or her character.