Improv B IV

Focus was on relationship work last night. After the usual line up of warm up games, we kicked off the session relatively mildly with short pair work. One person would be seated in a chair (which we designated the fart chair, since, unfortunately, it tended to squeak whenever anyone sat down) and basically had to react to whatever the other person came in on the scene with. We did a few rounds of this game – in the first round, each person only had a line each to say; in the second, the person in the seat had to first wordlessly react to the other’s opening line, then reply in a sentence; in the third round, the person in the seat had to try further heighten the scene by adding a little more detail. In all three rounds, we had to round off the relationships by giving one another names, which really, is surprisingly harder than it sounds. Most of the time, we’d forget, and our sentences would go like that: Person A: “Hey, what did you get on your test… … Mary?” Person B: *pauses for dramatic reaction* “Oh, I failed. My mum’s going to kill me… … Tom.”

Next, we did more pair work – the audience would throw out a suggestion of “what” and “where” and in pairs, we’d try to start a conversation and figure out a relationship between the characters. In this exercise, the characters had to be on really, really, close and friendly terms with one another. Judy dubbed it the “sickly sweet” exercise. I partnered up with Lauren this game, and we had to act out a scene on a sinking Greek cruise ship. We quickly established that we were sisters. Initially, I pretended that we were workers on board the ship trying to save the imaginary passengers, but Judy quickly put a stop to that, and told me to focus on building a relationship with Lauren. That worked out really well, and we had a blast holding on tightly to one another, pretending to jump into the frigid sea, and then spending many frantic moments trying to forgive one another for the various misdeeds or pranks we’d pulled before. One of my favorite scenes that round was Kathy and Santi pretending to be Hollywood celebrities who hook up while walking down the red carpet.

We also did some work in threes, which I think is quite a bit harder than pair work since you have to be very aware of not just one person, but two, at the same time. And I quite suck at that, since I can barely remember the names I call people the moment they leave my mouth. “Psst, what did I just call you?” I was with Dan and Vanessa this round, and we were campers at Magic Camp. After some fumbling around, we established that Dan was trying to teach me how to saw Vanessa in half, and she tricked us with fake blood. One of my favorite scenes this game was Chris, Maddy and Lauren’s scene where they pretended to be at a marriage counseling session. Maddy, a svelte girl, ingeniously latched onto the idea that she was a 4’8’’ 300 lb woman who complained that she was having trouble with the housework though she insisted she did her share. Lauren, in her wise-counselor ways, gravely nodded and said, “Ok, we’ve established that you do pull your weight around the house.” It was a riot. And Judy timed the “Scene!” well, ending their act just as talk turned to problems in the bedroom.

At the end of the night, we stood in a circle and threw someone into the “hot spot” in the middle of the circle. Five different people would take turns to go into the circle and start a dialogue with the person in the middle – the catch was that the pairs always had to have contrasting emotions. These were short scenes, sort of like Freeze, since anyone could jump in and tag the non-hot-spot person out at any time.

Last night, we were asked to indicate our interest in continuing the class after level B. Everyone ticked yes on the form. Eep, I shudder to think that I actually have to put up a public performance at the end of the level C. I need to work on my emotions and acting repertoire. I have such a limited range of accents to pull off too. Well actually, I can’t even pull off the standard American accent, much less affect a Boston twang or Southern slang. Eep.

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