Class May 23, 2007

img_0896.JPGI don’t know why I find this image so appealing, but I do. In the background, I’m setting up a Playbook scene with Sol, Mark, and Ben. But there’s Mike, looking good for the camera. The other pictures from this class (127 of them!) can be found in the album.

We had a smaller and more experienced group this night, so we got in a few more smaller group scenes. After a warm-up of Pass the Clap and 1-Word Story, we started the scene work with some Last Letter scenes. My favorite scene in this set took place at the Renaissance Faire with Eric, Mark, and Andre. Mark, who was trying to play a woman in the scene, had a unique way of emphasizing his non-intuitive gender.

We then moved on to a series of Sound Effects scenes which I intended to be based on a set of random, recorded sound effects. For a couple of scenes this worked wonderfully. But then, the battery ran out on my ipod, and we were left with the more traditional, mouth based sounds. However, I think everyone agreed that the scenes with the technical effects were great – so we’ll be trying that again.

We moved on to three person Playbook scenes (also known as Actor’s Nightmare). There were some very intense scenes in that set, and since I’m sure that describing those scenes won’t do them justice, I’m not even going to try. But I’m really glad those scenes happened.

We also got in a round of Irish Drinking Songs. Since this is an experienced group, I’m sorry we didn’t try a new song. I believe it’s time to bring back a few of the more difficult song rotations to keep challenging all the players.

We got in a set of 3-Line Drills, and then we did a few rounds of Montage. As I mentioned last week, it’s time that we started using some of the skills we’ve been practicing and move into multi-scene structures. This week, we re-introduced basic scene transitions and sequences of open scenes. We’ll work on these structures for the next few weeks.

That’s it for this week!

Class May 16, 2007

img_0749.JPGOkay, doesn’t this look like an album cover photo from some 80’s indy band? There’s even the disaffected bass player in the back. Actually, it’s Angela, Aaron, Chris, and Kenna in a Directed Story With Genres.

This week, there are only 45 photos in the album! The excuse was that the camera’s batteries ran out. Luckily, that allowed me to put a caption on all of them – although some of the captions are more snarky than informative.

We had 20 people in the class, and two of them were there for the first time: Aaron and Chris (both pictured, above). Both have had stage experience, and so there was no hesitation about getting up to participate. Welcome!

We started the evening with Character Intros, and then moved on to a hugely chaotic version of Zip Zap Zop. In this version, each person who was pointed to had to point out to two others, resulting in a population limited, geometric progression (!). It quickly progresses beyond what anyone can fully keep track of, but it’s meant to exercise the limits of what you can keep track of. We ended our warms ups with One-Word Stories.

We moved on to Directed Story With Genres. No competition this time (that would have been Story Story Die). I wanted everyone to get some practice with directed transitions.

Next came Assigned Quirks. This is always a wacky piece and it’s another exercise where the players see what makes a quirk interesting when performed.

We did a few rounds of Irish Drinking Song, but the camera must have been running low on power because there aren’t any pictures from that part of the night. We also did a Three Line Drill, and everyone participated in that.

At the end, we got to the more difficult exercise of the night. Three people had to play a scene where they were each allowed only one line of dialog. The rest of the time they had to be silent, and not engage in some sort of pantomime. The real work is to practice silent communication: to express emotion without words. It was pretty challenging for most folks, but there were enough excellent examples that I think we all could see how effective this can be. It’s a practical example of the improv concept Show, Don’t Tell.

Once again, we ended the night with a round of Freeze Tag.

Class May 9, 2007

img_0612.JPGI like this picture of the class, taken during a warm-up exercise called Non-Sequitur. Once again, I’ve taken the rather large lot of pictures (102) from the class and posted them in a Google Album. I haven’t labeled them all, but I think I’ve identified enough to name everyone that attended the class.

There were 18 of us in the workshop, and we started the night with the character heavy, Story Intro. We followed up with Non-Sequitur and then a couple of one-word stories.

Scene work led off with a Hitchhiker rotation in which everyone participated. Then we got to Exaggerated Body Parts, which is a piece we haven’t done in quite awhile. It takes some time, and I usually wait until we have a small class. Nowadays 18 people qualify as a small class. I’m glad we got to Exaggerated Body Parts because it’s a chance to see what makes an interesting quirk, and how to make a quirk intersting. And, I think everyone did well with the challenge.

Then we moved on to the ever popular Irish Drinking Song. There are a lot of fun pictures from that exercise in the album, so be sure to check it out.

My favorite part of the night was a long-form exercise where everyone was assigned a profession. We don’t often get to playing a series of scenes with the same characters being revisited, and so this was a fine way to apply some of the skills developed with the 3-Line Drill. We’ll do more of these multi-scene pieces in the future

We ended the night with some Freeze Tag.

I’m behind in my postings, so I’ll end this one here and just thank everyone for another fun class.

Class May 2, 2007

img_0515.JPGLorien, Eric, Allegra, David and Scott are captured in full, coordinated swing during their Irish Drinking Song. Even Lorien, mugging for the camera, is in a leaning pose consistent with the others. It’s a bit of stage magic to see everyone working together like this.

We’re going to try something a little different for this week’s class blog entry. This will be the only picture from the class that I’ll post here. The rest of the pictures (142!) are in an online album. I’d like to try putting the time I’d normally spend preparing the photos for the blog into adding some new content.

And now, a quick review of Wednesday night. First off I want to welcome David who came to his first night at the workshop. We started the night with our usual Character Introductions. We followed up with a quick Out Of The Box pantomime exercise, Zip-Zap-Zop, and then One Word Story. For stage work, we started with Gift Giving, followed by Alliteration, and then 185. I was particularly impressed that everyone got up to participate in 185, even though there was some initial resistance. Some of these pieces look particularly difficult, but once you actually step out and try them, they get easier with practice.

Next, we got to the ever popular Irish Drinking Song. This is another good example of a piece that looks difficult at first, but is actually a skill you get better at with practice.

We moved on to the 3-Line Drill, and everyone participated in that one also. We’ve been working on it a lot lately, and I think it teaches some valuable skills. Unfortunately, it takes a bit of time to get through the whole class, and it leaves us without the chance to use those skills in some open form improv – so we may skip the drill next week, and do some open scenes. We’ll see what the class looks like on Wednesday.

We ended the night with almost everyone staying after hours to do a little Freeze Tag. I love ending the night with that piece and I’m glad to see that folks clamor for it.

I’m interested in your thoughts on the blog changes, and directions you’d like to see it go. Feel free to leave a comment, or write to me, or talk to me after a class (or before if you’re brave).