Improv B II

I missed last week’s entry on the first Level B improv class. But the story goes, we’ve a new instructor, Judy, and a new member, Katie (who sat in one class last term), and we’ve lost a couple members. We played a few of old games – Freeze, practiced more scene work games etc., but also a couple of new ones, like Hitch Hiker. It was pretty fun, but somehow, the energy level felt lower… I think Kimmy’s much more hyper than Judy. But I guess Judy could also just be stressed – her partner was expecting a baby anytime over the weekend so she might have been distracted by it.

This week, Kimmy sub-ed in for Judy, as she had just become the proud new parent of a baby girl. Sweet. It was good to see Kimmy again too; it’s a little disconcerting every time how you spend so much time with someone then boom, they’re gone before you even say goodbye.

After a couple of warm up games, we started improv work proper, following Judy’s emailed instructions. Or rather, Kimmy tried to follow the instructions but she screwed up a little at first. Haha. When we finally got it right, we paired up for some scene work. In the first game, we were each given a word, say, “France” and “pineapple”, and taking turns to speak, had to set up a scene using just our given words in conversation. The aim of the game was not to use the words literally, but to focus on our inflexions of the words to make sense of the scene. It was difficult.

In a different variation, again in pairs, we set up a scene using a one-word conversation exchange. We could use any word, but the catch was that it couldn’t be related to what we were doing. I paired up with Bridget and we pretended we were huge fans lining up for some pop star’s concert (forgot who, John Meyer???).

And in another variation, we could use words related to what we were actually doing in the scene, but again had to limit our conversation to one word each. This time, I paired up with Chris, and we improv-ed being in a hot air balloon.
Afterwards, we spiced up that game a little by throwing in three players, and giving each player a random number of words to use. In some cases, someone could only say a word at a time, while others had to say a string of 8 words at a time. Both were equally difficult to accomplish – the person with one word had to concentrate more on the tone and object work to get his/her point across, while the person with the long string of words had to focus on counting and ensuring that he/she makes the word count. It was a ton of fun though.

We shifted focus after that to a translation game. We sat in threes on the stage. The person on the left was the English speaker, the middle person the translator, and the person on the right a foreign expert on a topic the audience picked. For instance, in one game, I suggested belly dancing, and the English speaker had to ask the translator to translate any questions he had for the expert on that particular subject. So while the English speaker spoke in English to the translator, the translator had to speak in gibberish to the foreign expert, who would dive into either a long and convoluted gibberish answer or a succinct one for the translator to translate. It was hilarious. Collette who was the “belly dancing expert”, was asked to demonstrate some of her moves.

Another game we played that was pretty cool: ad-libbing for a movie. We got up on stage in teams of four. Two people were actors in the movie, speaking in gibberish, and the other two were the ad-libbers. I nearly split my sides laughing for that game, especially when Katie and Santi pretended to be actors in a Bollywood production.

It freaks me out a little when I think about it though – I’ve already finished my second week of the Level B class… just 14 more classes and I actually have to put on a public show! It’s all well and good to play in the classroom setting, but I’m definitely not up to par in performing for a paying crowd (just a $2 admission, but still!).

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