* Interruptive starts: * Split the class into to lines. * Person 1 initiates the scene verbally. * Person 2 interrupts person 1. * Person 2 only lets person 1 get, like, four words out. * Results: * Person 1 doesn't feel disrespected as a performer. * Both people find their characters pretty fast. * How is this not a train wreck? * On the surface, it's very similar to "cross-initiations". * This is where two performers have different premises in their heads, and they deliver both of them at the top of the scene. * ... leading to lots of uneasiness and confusion. * In this case, the interrupting line shows up with some *emotion* behind it. * So it creates a pressing emotional conflict within the *context* of the first line. * Improvised Movie Trailers! * When doing an improvised movie trailer, you basically have one of three roles: 1. The Narrator ("In a world...") 2. The Star ("Oh, yeah? Well, you've just crossed the WRONG GUY!") 3. The Scene-Painters ("A half-chewed cigar dangles from the corner of his mouth.") * Try not to wander from one role to another within a line. * Me: I would think that, ideally (for clarity), you'd want to stick to one role throughout. * This is part of a larger goal: * Only do one thing at a time. * Let every offer land. * Remember that the camera only sees one thing at a time. * So you really can't do two scenes onstage at once. * (Okay, unless it's a split-scene.) * (... but seriously, when do you see *those* in trailers?) * Use the full panoply of film effects. * Match cuts! * Close-ups! * Insert shots! * Slow motion! * You get the idea! * Especially make sure you use "Cut to:". * Most importantly, remember you can "Cut to:" something random. * Jump to something seemingly random and unknown. * Then, justify why you did it. * Remember that normal trailers do this. * You can avoid 'offer soup' by being calm and deliberate with your offers. * Only do one idea at a time. * Let every idea land. * Respond to the last idea you heard. * ... as opposed to dispatching the old idea you've had in 'the hopper' for five minutes. * You want these trailers to have a group-game energy. * Follow the energy. * Provide sound effects as necessary. * Embody objects/characters/etc. * Variations on the Harold. * Split the opening up into thirds. * Do the first third at the start. * Do the second third between the first two 1st-beat scenes. * Do the third third between the second and third 1st-beat scenes. * Split the opening into halves. * Open with the first 1st-beat scene. * Do the first half between the first two 1st-beat scenes. * Do the second half between the second and third 1st-beat scenes. * Freestyle: * Improvise THE STRUCTURE OF THE HAROLD. * i.e., don't stick to the "training wheels" traditional structure. * Watch the structure that's emerging within the show. * Watch for moves that can remake the Harold's structure to better reflect material from the opening, or the original suggestion. * Bill gave us some suggestions that really lent themselves to this: "déjà vu", "inside Jerry's head". * We sort of overshot, making too many crazy structural moves for the Harold to comfortable accommodate, but oh well. * They still turned out pretty well. * Generally, hold on to a 'macro' view of the show you're doing. * Keep an eye on the structure that's emerging, so that you can recognize, support, and develop it. * In all cases, giving an individual show the structure it wants to have is far more important than following all the beats & games of the traditional, "training wheels" Harold. * If your show turns into an improvised murder mystery, MAKE IT A GODDAMNED IMPROVISED MURDER MYSTERY, Harold-structure be damned. * Repetitive Starts: * Split the class into to lines. * Person 1 initiates the scene verbally. * Person 2 repeats person 1's line. * Not necessarily with the same tone. * Also, it doesn't have to be totally 100% word-for-word. * It can have, y'know, minor variations, within reason. * Close Quarters: * Do a set of two-handers in one big location. * Never use the same sub-location twice. * Never play the same character twice. * None of these scenes should have plot. * It's just about exploring characters and sub-locations. * Note that these scenes are not consistent with each other. * If the location is diner, assume that each scene takes place in a different diner (or rather, in sub-locations thereof). * Since these scenes are *exploring* (character/setting) rather than *resolving* (plot/premise), they don't have a fixed (and brief) lifespan. * They can go on forever. * Bill called the edits on these scenes, and all of them ran very comfortably past the three-minute mark. * Me: again, if you find yourself in a plotty scene, you can always let go of those plotty specifics to explore your general character. * After enough two-handers, finish off with a whole-group scene. * General notes: * Remember that "intense" does not always mean "big" or "grotesque" or "frenetic". * It can be very contained. * i.e. in a confrontation in Victorian England. * Stating the obvious is always good. * It lets the audience know that they're right. * Bill, when watching a scene, often has obvious questions he wants answered. * "Where are these people?" * "How do they know each other?" * "What is the 'thing' theyre planning?" * Scenes about people abusing their power are often hard to play. * Only because they touch on very painful issues. * e.g. child molesters, spouse abusers, animal torturers. * It's not *impossible* to do these scenes, but most of the time they wind up uncomfortable and non-fun. * You don't want your first-beat scenes to be *too* heavy. * Even though you do want the audience genuinely engaged with them. * Me: at the very least, make sure you keep varying up the energy, for shape-of-show. * "Walk'n'greet scenes." * These are scenes that open with "Hey, how's it going." from person 1 to person 2. * Then there's an awkward pause. * Then the improvisors start casting about, trying to figure out what the scene is about. * Many scenes -- especially "frustration scenes" -- eventually hit a point where the subtext is so close to the surface that your character can finally *say* the thing that everybody's thinking. * (e.g. "Dammit, why are you being so creepy?!") * In group scenes, you often have a whole range of POVs, each trying to "win". * Remember that, especially in a group scene, it's okay for your character to *lose*. * Your character can stay the same after that. * You can always call out other characters on weird/surreal behavior.
Mood: contemplative · Music: none