Here are my notes from week 5, day 3 of the iO Summer Intensive. Our instructor for week five was Miles Stroth.
* The Run: * This is the six-to-eight minute section towards the end of the show that really gains speed and momentum. * Note that pace is more important than content in the run. * Do not pause between scenes. * This gives the audience time to think and to judge you. * Instead, we want the scenes to kind of wash over them. * If someone initiates a scene, do NOT leave them hanging. * Do NOT self-edit. * You're done with your scene ONLY when the next scene starts. * Do lots of RUNNING. * RUN onstage to start a scene. * Start your scene AS you're running onstage. * Don't wait to get in place to talk. * RUN offstage to end a scene. * These don't need to be sweep edits. * Just run to where you need to be. * This ensures no dead space between scenes. * This imparts energy to the run. * This makes you more likely to get the accelerando pacing right. * Do NOT do a scene while walking across the stage. * It adds no energy. * It implies that you aren't even aiming to *do* a real scene. * This is the place to use tagouts. * Tagouts impart energy and speed. * Do NOT overuse tagouts and walk-ons in the comments. * Those will make the comment scenes run too fast. * The scenes get monotonically faster over the course of the run. * (If a 5-second scene interrupts the early flow, just ignore that and continue progressing the pace as normal.) * Do not let the run come to a dead stop. * If it does, restart it as soon as you can... * ... but really, you've ruined the run by that point. * The run can include the opening characters. * But not both at once. * Both opening characters onstage at once signals the last scene of the show. * The run can include material from before in its original context. * Unlike comment-scenes, you *don't* have to worry about recontextualization. * Reminder: the comment-scenes should *not* include material from before in its original context. * It kicks off with a 30-to-40-second return to the opener's world. * Then, we have some 40-second scenes and some 30-second scenes. * These first scenes should explore "storyline characters". * That is, characters alluded to, described, or clearly implied by the central story. * An example of an implied character: a very strict, disciplined character might imply having had a very strict, disciplined father. * These are the longest scenes in the run, and we want to use them to really dig into the story characters. * Be sure that each of the opening characters has associated story characters that we explore. * If we've been exploring character #1's story-characters for a while, shift gears and explore character #2's story-characters. * Think of these as the scenes immediately *around* the opening scene. * Put off anything 'nutso' until we've nailed down that first batch of run-scenes. * For clarity: once one player has played a story character, nobody else gets to play that story character. * As the run goes on, the scenes get shorter. * As we get into these shorter scenes, we can start exploring tangents. * These tangents are very small things alluded to. * Tangents also include mistakes the performers have made. * At the very end of the run: CHAOS! * Even when you're doing two-second scenes, you're still *trying* to do scenes. * Run onstage. * Set up your scene. * Run offstage when you get edited. * Eventually, scenes will inevitably start running on top of each other. * When this happens, roll with it. * If there is a film/book reference in the opening, weave it throughout the run. * Find correspondences between the reference and the show. * If someone references The Hobbit, and the story includes a character similar to Gollum, make that guy Gollum. * Also: play *with* the reference. * This is subtly different from "playing with the fact that there *was* a reference". * Runners are useful in the run. * But usually, you only want 3 beats for it. Maybe 5. * The Closing Scene: * You'll know we've gone from the run to the closing scene when both of the players from the opening are onstage. * The closing scene resumes the world of the opening. * There is a time jump, and it's either: * Way in the future. * In this case, show the inevitable end of the two opening characters. * In many cases, this is the implication that nothing will ever change for these people. * Sometimes, the future scene can have some sort of reversal in the central relationship. * Way in the past. * Typically, you're showing where the opening characters first met. * They're usually played opposite to their current state somehow. * General notes: * Some more notes about straight/absurd scenes: * Note that straight/absurd is the *game* of the scene. * It doesn't preclude you from adding other things in the scene. * You can still develop characters. * You can still endow the world around you. * You can still change moods. * But through all that, you have to keep coming back to that straight/absurd game. * The straight man is still a character. * i.e., you can do *more* than just repeat, "That's weird!" * You can have characteristics. * You can have a POV. * Ideally, the straight man's character is the one that will make the absurd guy the most absurd. * If the absurd guy flirts inappropriately with everyone, make the straight man a priest. * The straight man gets a lot of mileage from just repeating what the absurd guy has suggested, with a realistic point of view. * Beyond that, though, you can invent material that makes the absurd guy even more weird. * "You're always saying weird things! Why, just last week, you said <x>!" * If your scene partner makes the scene double-absurd... * Revert back to playing straight. * Do it hard. * Don't worry about credibility. * Saving the scene = more important. * If you have a strong foreign accent, be even louder onstage. * This helps the audience get over the hurdle of parsing out your accent. * Try not to do references that nobody will get. * If you do, make sure you at least include some details about the reference in your dialog. * Try not to do too many references. * 10 references: everything gets dissipated. * One book, one movie: good to go. * Use those references. * Make sure you don't drop or ignore them. * A good opening should make your teammates *hungry* to add theme and comment scenes. * Turn mistakes into *moves* whenever you can. * i.e., make the mistake part of the scene's universe. * Do *not* just point out the mistake in a "making fun of your teammates" sort of way. * A way of viewing the structure overall: * The Opening: "We're smart, we're capable of drama, we're creating something you care about." * The Theme Scenes: "Here's what the opening was about, and by extension, what the show is about." * Back to the Opening: "Let's really dig into those themes." * Comments: "Here are the things that are fucked up in this world." * Back to the Opening: "We're kicking off The Run." * The Run: "We can be wacky and crazy and out-of-control." * "Ultimately, any form is just a net." * i.e., if you find something better than the form, that's fine. * But if all else fails, you can just do the form strictly-as-written, and you'll make something entertaining. * More about the opening: * If you hit a really emotional moment in the opening, you'll probably want to come back to that point a few times in the scene. * While watching the opening, you're looking for: * The themes (what are these people basically about?) * One or two comment scenes. * There are 14 of you. You don't all need to think up five of them. * More about comment scenes: * Relationships we see in the comment scenes should be different from the relationship established in the opening. * When prepping a comment scene, answer the question "*Why* does this fucked-up thing strike me as flawed?" * (Question number 1 was, "What's fucked-up about this?") * The more you can focus in on the thing that's wrong, the better off you are. * Once you've honed in on that, you can expand out from it. * Ask, "If this fucked-up thing is true, then what other simple things are likely to be true?" * Use that thinking to explore. * Comment scenes are heavily rewarded for precision and accuracy. * i.e., the audience should know *exactly* what bit of the opener your scene is commenting on. * "Is this story element a tangent or a comment-thing?" * It depends on whether the element is significant to the scene. * Significant = comment. * Insignificant = tangent. * If you can't see *anything* fucked-up to work with... * ... then just pick a behavior. * ... and ask, "who *shouldn't* act like <x>?" * In the initiation, you'll have to nail things down explicitly. * Show *exactly* how it connects to the opener. * More about theme scenes: * Remember that the theme isn't just *any* character attribute. * It's that character's *flaw*. * My notes for myself: * Again, if your partner makes an offer you're likely to conflict with, TAKE THE CONFLICT. * Accept it as a gift. * "Yes, and" doesn't mean "happily agree to things your character would hate". * If you don't know what the opening is about, maybe hold off on doing a theme scene.
Mood: contemplative · Music: none