Recital March 24, 2007

recital-p4m.jpgIt’s that time again! The Santa Barbara Improv Workshop is putting on a Recital this Saturday, March 24th 2007 starting at 8:00 pm.

I’m often asked the difference between a recital and a Caught in the Act show. Structurally, there’s not much difference. It’s one and a half hours of short form improv. The difference is that for many of the performers, this is their first time performing improv in front of an audience, and for some the first time on stage. We don’t advertise outside of our mailing list, and we encourage the players to invite those family and fiends that they’d like to have in the audience.

However, it’s always a great improv show, and a lot of fun for the audience and the performers. Lately, our classes have been filled with wonderful performers and we have a great set of improv scenes lined up for the show. Come by and join in the fun!

Class March 14, 2007

A fine class that challenged everyone’s ability to work in large groups. The final count for the night was 32 players, not including me. Luckily, one person left just as another arrived, so we never had more than 31 at a time (whew!). Folks also went crazy with the camera (which is a good thing) and I selected these photos from a batch of 72!

dcp_2679.JPGEven though there will be a lot of group pictures, I’m going to start (and end) with shots of just two players in a scene. Both shots make me smile. In this wonderful moment, Becky is sticking her tongue out at Sharon. It wasn’t part of the scene (air traffic controllers having a few drinks on the job to avoid dealing with a plane wreck), just a moment between my two favorite improvisers.

dcp_2689.JPGWe did several rounds of Holiday. Here, David, Kathy, Allegra, Andy, and Kenna are celebrating Velcro Day! This scene had a fabulous opening with Kathy velcroed to the floor and everyone else working together to peel her off. What better way to celebrate!

dcp_2692.JPGThis group was celebrating Plastic Cup Day with Lorien, Mark, Aydin, Angela, and Becky. At this point, they were trying to convince Lorien that she was to be the virgin sacrifice to the giant cup god. She wasn’t having any of it, and apparently there weren’t any other virgins.

dcp_2697.JPGOkay, this was Onesy Day. Apparently, onesies are those one piece outfits that babies wear. Eric, Robyn, Scott, Sharon, and Mike are giving their all, and there was even a little song to celebrate.

dcp_2702.JPGKibble Day (yeah, we were running low on suggestions) had Chrisana, Melissa, Sol, Scott, and Jess doing some celebrating around a large bowl of Kibble. There was a lot of eating of Kibble, and Melissa was the lone dog in the scene. There seemed to be a lot of leg nuzzling.

dcp_2705.JPGOne of the Irish Drinking Songs of the night. Lorien, Allegra, Becky, Andy, Karla, Ben, and Mike are in this piece, with Andy having his big moment.

dcp_2706.JPGAnother Irish Drinking Song, this time with Marika, Eric, Sol, Sharon, Aydin, and CK. I like that in this moment it looks like several blows were going to be thrown. Marika is clearly hauling off to belt Eric (hey, we’ve all been there), and CK appears to be getting out before he becomes the next target of Sharon’s sadistic blows after Aydin. Sol is ready to back her up.

dcp_2708.JPGOh yeah, Tristan and Kathy in a Park Bench scene. Think Rosie Perez when you look at Tristan (he was an inmate at a prison) and Kathy was, uhm…, paying conjugal visits to all of the prisoners (and at least one guard) in 15 minute increments. Or at least all of those interested in a woman for their conjugal visit.

dcp_2713.JPGSame scene, but Tony was playing a prisoner who missed his parole hearing, and Marika was playing a guard (yes, that guard). One of my favorite bits of dialog of the night was Marika’s “how could you miss your hearing? You’re a prisoner. You don’t have anything to do“.

dcp_2719.JPGThis scene between Melissa and Ben takes place on a Park Bench outside of a candy store. Melissa is trying to finagle some (or all) of Ben’s candy. As you can see from Ben’s expression, he was a willing victim. She got all of his candy.

dcp_2732.JPGAs promised, the last picture is of another nice moment between two players. In this Park Bench scene, Sol is playing a beggar trying to convince Eric to give him some money. Just a couple of guys sitting on a Park Bench.

Class March 7, 2007

dcp_2637-big.JPGI’m not certain what it means when a “small” class consists of 22 people, but because it seemed like a small class, we spent some time working on 2 and 3 player scenes. Before we get to those pictures, above is a shot of an Irish Drinking Song with David, Mark, Scott, Ben, Jim, Kathy, and Colin.Whatever the topic, you can be sure the lyrics were filled with sexual innuendos.

dcp_2617.JPGTeri, Eric, and Mark are in the middle of an ABC Scene set in a Gas Station. Teri played a piano instructor that was giving Eric’s character a little something extra in his lesson. Mark played Eric’s brother, who felt he also needed some of that additional instruction, and was trying to convince Teri to also take him on as a student.

dcp_2620.JPGIn their ABC Scene, Lorien, Marika, and Jim are in a burger joint, supposedly preparing a huge backlog of orders. However, Jim was the only one working, since Marika and Lorien’s characters were too busy dealing with their issues. I think this shot captures the characters’ relationships pretty well.

dcp_2621.JPGNext, we went through a series of Pillars Scenes done in a rotation (two come up as pillars, and then they are the players in the next scene). Here, Marika and Terri are the players and Jim and Andy were the pillars in the scene. Marika played Teri’s grandmother, and they were fighting during their Maui vacation.

dcp_2626.JPGAnother Pillars Scene with David, Scott, Ben, and Tristan. Scott and and Tristan are pillars in the US Senate, and David and Ben are performing as Senators. I liked that all their conflicts were going to be settled by votes on the Senate floor. Or maybe that was too realistic.

dcp_2628.JPGIn this scene, Tristan and Scott are the players on the outside, and CK and Kathy are the pillars on the inside. This one took place in a Turkish bath, although I think we all lost sight of the location while paying attention to their Yiddish accents. The scene had something to do with getting a spritz to get off the shmuz.

dcp_2630.JPGNow, in this scene with CK, Colin, Kathy, and Angela, the two players (CK and Kathy) are blacksmiths. They were making a variety of swords, and the one I most remember was purple and fuzzy. Colin and Angela were providing words, and one of my favorites of the night was Angela’s Yttrium.

dcp_2632.JPGLi-At, Mark, Aydin, and Justin are in a recording studio for their round of Pillars. Mark and Justin are the pillars for Li-At, the singer, and Aydin, the producer/sound engineer. For some reason, I strongly remember that the scene ended with the two of them going for a burger. Maybe I’m hungry.

dcp_2641.JPGThis is an Irish Drinking Song with Lorien, Justin, CK, Eric, and Marika. I included this shot because I like the way it captures everyone watching Marika’s struggle to come up with a rhyme. And yes, that’s my arm.

dcp_2646.JPGWe played several rounds of Park Bench, and in this shot you see David and Mike discussing their plans to pick up another character, Samantha. As I recall, David was going to win her over with dancing (so he was looking for an instructor) and Mike was going to continue with his “try every line in the book” strategy. Each was a little creepy in his own way.

dcp_2650.JPGLi-At and Jim are in a Yoga studio, and Jim was playing a waaayyyy mellow yoga student. To make this a little clearer, Li-At was portraying a very relaxed, stereotypical Yoga student, but in contrast with Jim’s character, she was harshing his mellow. I believe he only said about 5 words the whole time. It was all in the facial expressions and body language.

dcp_2655.JPGThis took place in the same round of Park Bench, but several scenes later. At this point, Jim (playing the same Yoga character) entered the scene crying. Aydin was reaching to comfort him when Jim exclaimed that “everything is all so beautiful”. At that point it was clear he was crying with joy – just about the beauty of life. I think that was my favorite moment of the night.

Class February 28, 2007

dcp_2564.JPGDoesn’t that look like a typical workshop? I hadn’t yet posted a group shot from the warm-up exercises, but this one is pretty typical. Pictured here are only two of the three groups telling one-word stories. The small circle in the background consists of (clockwise from left) Jim, Lorien, Sharon, Aydin, Justin, Justine, Carol, and Sol. The foreground circle has Scott, Allegra, Li-At, Tony, Ben (barely visible), Mike, Dustin, and Marika.

dcp_2575.JPGAndy, Scott, and Mike are fishermen in a game of Coundown. They are first given a minute to create a scene, then they have to replay the scene in 30 seconds, then 15 seconds, 7 seconds, and finally 3 seconds. It’s a great exercise for learning about the beats of a scene, and identifying the critical parts of a story. By the time the 3 second scene happens, you’ve pared the story down to the critical 3 beats. This scene also had my favorite quote of the night, Scott saying “those fucking poissons“.

dcp_2581.JPG Here, Ben, Allegra, and Mike are superheroes in a Remote Control scene. This is another game that focuses on the beats of a scene. The director controls the scene with a ‘remote control’, calling out the commands reverse, fast-forward, slow, pause, etc. The players need to keep track of the beats so that they can go back through them on command.

dcp_2584.JPGKathy, Marika, and Jim are playing another scene of Remote Control. Since I was directing with the remote, I didn’t keep notes on the scenes, and I don’t remember the setup for this one. If someone does remember, please add a comment.

dcp_2585.JPGThis is another Remote Control scene with Tristan, Li-At, and Scott. I also don’t remember the setup for this one, for the same reason. For everyone who has wondered why I take so many notes during the workshop, this is the reason.

dcp_2589.JPGMark (kneeling), Andre, and David are also in a Remote Control scene. Mark was playing a horse, so I believe this scene was about veterinarians (?). I do remember that Andre had to slap Mark on the butt a lot. It’s those physical beats which are nice to replay over and over again. Some strong lines (like Scott’s “fucking poissons”) also make for easily identified beats.

dcp_2590.JPGAnother Remote Control scene with Aydin, Andy, and Angela and I don’t remember the setup. So, why did all the reasonable pictures have to come from that exercise. Luckily everyone was brilliant.

dcp_2592.JPGCarol, Justin, and Lorien are in this (of course) Remote Control scene. This was Carol’s first time at our workshop although she’s done some improv in the past. Lorien has returned for her second class, which is a good sign, and Justin is returning after his triumphant first performance in a Stand Up comedy show.

dcp_2597.JPGFinally, a Remote Control scene where I remember the setup (because I’m in it). Justine, Alan (kneeling), and CJ are in a Remote Control scene about headhunters. At this moment, CJ is about to cut off my head in retribution for my cutting off his neighbor’s head (nothing but high-concept comedy). Hey, this is the second shot of someone on their knees! Who’s taking these pictures (or why do we feel the need to get on our knees in class)?

dcp_2598.JPGThis is a basic Irish Drinking Song with Li-At being blocked by my arm, Kathy, Tristan, Ben, Allegra, Tony, and Sol singing their hearts out. Do I remember the topic? No. If you remember (or were in) any of these scenes, please leave comments!

dcp_2610-2.JPG dcp_2607.JPGThere were some fine head shots taken just after the class ended. Andy had brought a set of wigs but they didn’t get used during the class. On the left, Kathy and Andy in their best 60’s rock album pose, and on the right, Mike is in his 80’s, metal pose.

dcp_2600.JPGAnd pictured here, for the first time, the post workshop after-glow.