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

Wednesday (9/4/13) 2:44am - ... wherein Peter attends a workshop from Dave Hill and Matt Jones.

On 9/1/13, Dave Hill and Matt Jones presented a workshop titled "Driver's Seat".

Here are the notes I took in the workshop.

General Notes

* Hit archetypal characters.
* Let the characters lead you to genres.
        * ... and to stories.
* Build on the reality of that genre.
        * Let it expand into a whole world.
* Make heightened, big, bold choices.
        * For characters, for the reality they live in.
* Don't worry about being "grounded"/"real"/etc.
* Remember, a character can always state exactly what's happening onstage.

Character Monologs
* The instructors had a series of archetype-character prompts.
        * e.g., "Football coach at an inner-city school."
* Treat your character as if you're *always* playing the "Oscar®-Winning Moment" game.
        * Indulge in the pleasure of speaking at length about something.
        * Enjoy getting to pile on specifics.
* Take a second to settle into the character, if need be.
* Be bold with voice, physicality, etc.
        * Basically, GO FOR IT.
        * "Nobody's gonna come to an improv show and say, 'That was too big.'"
* Use the space.
        * Move around in it.
* Side note: they did a great job of pointing out the good things about our monologs.
        * And finding teachable points in those.
* The monolog doesn't have to be a real speech in the world of the story.
        * It could be a more Shakespeare-style monolog.
* The speech can include a moment of change for the character.
        * You can find emotional variety as you go.
        * You can also vary pacing.
                * Quick; slow; riddled with pauses; marching.
* You'll probably want to place this archetypal character in "the scene" -- i.e., the archetypal scene -- *for* that character.
        * i.e., your coach is probably motivating his inner-city team before The Big Game.
* Listen to yourself as you start the monolog.
        * Cue off of that to find what direction you're taking the character.
                * [ed. "If that first thing was true, what else is true?"]
        * Use some of these specifics to figure out how your character feels.
* DIVE IN, right at the start.
        * Don't slowly "ramp up" into the speech.
        * Playing big archetypes gives you license to make bold choices.
* Character traits can easily become a "game" (i.e., a pattern) in a show.
        * And that gives you a "thing" that can make the character recognizable.
                * It gives you a trait to build the character around.
                        * It helps you bring back the character later on.
* Label who you're talking to in your monolog.
        * Ideally, it's whoever archetypal character *always* talks to.
                * e.g., the inner-city coach is talking to his team.
* Avoid bridging and delaying tactics.

Genre Scenes
* Two people on stage, three to five minutes.
* Be bold with the genre.
        * (Alternately put, "Use the genre to be bold.")
        * Really dig into the genre as much as you can.
        * Find its archetypal characters.
                * A country-house mystery might feature an eccentric detective.
* Each scene begins with a random genre and subgenre.  Examples:
        * "Sci-fi: The End of the World"
        * "Horror: Supernatural Beings"
* (Side note: they'd frequently ask, "What's something we might see *after* this scene?")
* In medias res is your friend.
        * It's great to start a scene by answering a question.
* Special note for the romcom genre:
        * If two characters are falling in love, they have to pay close attention to each other.
                * That means you're reacting to the last line.
                        * Literally the last thing the other character said.
                        * You are "hanging on their every word".

Short, Open Scenes
* Two people onstage.
* No genre suggestion.
        * Instead, maybe a noun or a location.
* After 30-45 seconds, separate.
        * Each person writes what they think this movie is going to be.
* (For this one, the instructors did an example for us; that was very helpful.)
* Just get the "big ideas" for the movie.
        * Any choice is right
                * Ideally, you pick something bold, and you *believe* in it.
        * You can always work off of the little things that happen in the scene
                * Use them to inform big choices.
                * "Make the little things big."

Open Scenework
* Two people
* Three to five minutes
* Can be a series of scenes, or tagouts, or anything.
* Let the characters drive the scene.

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Mood: [mood icon] contemplative · Music: none
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[User Picture]
Date:Thursday (9/5/13) 9:19pm
Bless you for all your improv notes, what a lovely collection.
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[User Picture]
Date:Tuesday (9/10/13) 2:23am
*tips hat*
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