Class August 30, 2006

I want to thank Mikki for snapping pictures through this class. I had a pretty good set to chose from.

We had a particularly good night, and it was nice change to have an experienced set of players. I love having new folks come into the workshop, but it’s also good to have a small, experienced group.

Here’s a sample set of pictures.

img_1144.jpgI liked this ABC scene between Sol, Teri, and Lily. Teri was the counselor as the other two argued over who needed to be seen first.
img_1149.jpgAh, the smoking scene. I believe this was also an ABC scene between Andy, Ben, and myself. The setting was a cigarette factory, and Ben was the quality inspector. Luckily, the picture where I was licking the cigarettes was too blurry to publish.
img_1162.jpgThe songs were particularly good this night. That’s Andy, Abbe, Karla, Teri, Jim, and Patrick belting out the Irish Drinking Song. I was directing, and that’s the back of Ben’s head.
img_1177.jpgThis is the start of a 3 line drill, with Andy preparing an emotional setting for Patricia’s opening line.

You may have noticed that there aren’t the usual curtain panels on the edges of the stage. There’s an amusing story behind the missing curtains, but let’s just say it was my fault that we now have the opportunity to build some fresh new stage settings!

UPDATE: Rumble in the Comedy Jungle

I just got word that players from Caught in the Act will be performing at Laughingstock 3: Rumble in the Comedy Jungle this Friday, September 1 at 6:00 pm. That’s scheduled to be a Free-For-All, so we’ll be mixed in with other players. At this point, the players from SB Improv will be Jim, Andy, Mike, Patrick and myself.

There are shows scheduled through the night on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday so set aside some time and head on down to Venture.

Rumble in the Comedy Jungle

The Ventura Area Theater Sports group is hosting their annual Improvathon this Labor Day Weekend at their Livery Theatre. This year the event is called Laughingstock III: Rumble in the Comedy Jungle. They host an extended weekend of improv shows and events, hosting groups from around California, and this year at least one group from Canada is being featured.

Players from our Caught in the Act group participated last year, and we had a blast. Several of us plan on being part of the show, and I hope to get down to watch a lot of great improv. Check out their schedule and get yourselves down there.

Glossary: Yes And

The term Yes And is a short hand reference to the concepts of Acceptance and Addition. These are core concepts of improv; actually the core concepts of improv.

In an improvised scene, the players are building everything from scratch: setting, plot, and characters. It is critical that when one player defines some component of a scene (mimes an object, performs an action, refers to an event, or endows another player with some attribute), all the other players immediately accept that component as a real part of the scene.

For example, if I mime placing a table on the stage, it’s important that any other players walk around the table rather than right through it. If my partners walk through the mimed table, then the audience can see there is a problem, but what do they believe as the scene goes forward – is there a table, or not?

Accepting that the table is now part of the scene is the YES.

Beyond just accepting the table, if my partner mimes adding a vase of flowers to the table, then the audience senses a more interesting environment. And there is a subtle expectation that this is an important table and worthy of attention.

Adding an object to the table is the AND.

I use the physical, mimed example to simplify the concept, but Yes And is even more important to endowments between the characters. If I say the line “you don’t pay enough attention to our kids” to my partner, and the response is “that’s because we don’t have kids!”, well that’s funny, but where do we go from there? Do we have kids? Do we not have kids? What does the audience understand?

Instead, the line “that’s because I’ve never liked our kids” accepts my original premise, and adds more information about the kids and the player’s feelings about them. Now we can keep building the scene together. A good example of Yes And.

There are a lot of “rules of thumb” for improv, and they cover a range of styles and methods for generating scenes. They’re not necessarily hard and fast rules, and most can be creatively broken from time to time. But the concept of Yes And is a core concept to all of improv. Few things can shut down a scene quicker than not accepting, and a scene without additon will often seem lost or random. I’ll talk about how Blocking and Denying – the opposite of Yes And – can drag down a scene in another post.

Class August 23, 2006

I brought the camera … really, I did!

It was broken … no, really … ask Andy


So, no pictures this week. Really unfortunate because there was some great physical work. I think just about everyone came up with interesting characters for the Class Picture scenes, and several had great physical traits. And, Emotional Zone kept everyone moving, so the stage picture really held our interest while it kept changing.

Okay, and now for my favorite line of the evening (or at least the most notable). Eric threw this out in the middle of a Repeating Scene Changing Genre game:

I been through you like a man with a cream puff in the big one

I believe it was delivered in a Film Noir version of an office scene