Improv C II
Didn’t jot down my notes on last week’s class, mostly because it was draining, hard and we sucked pretty bad. Heh. But here are my brief notes on that:
After a quick Blow-wind-blow game, Jason started the class with a mini lecture using Star Wars analogy to illustrate the ingredients needed for an engaging story, starting with the set up, the finding of the stairs, the walking up the stairs, the climax, and the breather before the end. He couldn’t stress enough how we had to jump right onto the stairs whenever we started a scene, and then keep walking up those stairs to get to the climax.
While in the first week we practiced object work and focus work, the objective of last week’s class was on the use of emotions to heighten a scene. And it’s hard, not to mention completely exhausting.
One of the games we played was Emotion Scale Work, where two people would go up on stage and take two emotion suggestions and a scene suggestion from the audience. They would then start the scene with those given emotions, gradually bringing the emotions up from a level one to a level 10. That was hard work; nobody got up to a 10, though Vanessa nearly did with her excellent characterization of someone terrified to ride in roller coasters, so terrified, she was literally shaking and weeping in her seat. Maddy and Robert also elicited many laughs for their hotel room scene where Maddy pretended to be a desperate woman who killed her friend’s mum. I had a scene with Dan in the horse stable, where he was whiny and I pretended to be silly by going as far as licking his hand.
We played a few more games that really focused on how we treated the others, depending on how we felt towards them. In one game which we played in groups of four, we each had to mentally decide whom we were going to like, hate, and not give a damn about. We then had to show our feelings towards those people in the course of the scene. In another variation, Jason gave us each a poker card. We had to treat the people depending on the number on their card. I played this game twice. In the first, we were in the middle of a war zone. Bridget and Maddy had the lowest number on the card, so we assigned them to the front line and them bade them to “die with dignity.” In the second, we were randomly assigned the role of President, Vice President, Senator, Reporter and Tourist, with the Tourist accorded the highest status.
Improv C III
I was tempted to just stay in the night to watch my latest Grey’s Anatomy DVD… Evidently, many others must have found other distractions they deemed more interesting, because only 9 out of 16 people showed up for class yesterday. I’m not complaining in the least, since we got in more practice time.
We started the class with Conductive Griping (which Jason hinted that he might use as one of our games). He made people toss out suggestions of everyday pet peeves; I suggested someone who smells, someone said people who won’t stop talking about their kids, another one mentioned people who keep chewing their gum when talking to you, and someone else said people who talk on their cellphones while on the train. Jason then made us take on someone else’s suggestion. It must be karma or something, but I had to gripe about people who talk on their cellphones while on the train, and surprise surprise, I was on the phone with Julia my entire bus ride down to class… Erm.
Next, we played the “I have a secret” game. We went on stage in groups of three, where each person had to think up a secret they had for each of the other person. For example, person A’s secret of B could be that he knew B dying of cancer and he felt sorry for B, but C was in the dark. A also knew that C had cheated on her husband, and loathed her for that, though he had no intention of telling B the truth. A, B, and C then had to act out a scene suggested by the audience where they would make the secrets known not through direct disclosure, but by their demeanor towards the other person, and their reactions to them. It was pretty funny – I was up on stage with Kathy and George, and my secrets were that Kathy was pregnant and I was terrified that she was not going to take proper care of herself, and that George had just won the lottery and I was miffed that he was still as miserly as ever and did not want to splurge. Our suggested scene was Oktoberfest –Kathy started off wanting to get some beer and I immediately vetoed the idea. Instead of merely just yelling at her to lay off the drinks and try some non-alcoholic beer instead, Jason suggested that I slap the beer mug out of her hand. And when George started griping about Kathy not buying rounds for everyone, I chewed him out, and told him that he could well afford to buy the rounds. What made the scene hilarious was that we had independently thought of similar secrets: George’s secret was that he hated that Kathy was rich but miserly, and Kathy was celebrating the fact that I had recently given birth and could thus drink again.
We then played a similar “secrets” game in which we had to try make our partner do something without directly telling them to do so. Vanessa and Lauren kicked off the game by pretending to be zoo keepers in the zoo – Vanessa sweeping the elephant cage and Lauren dicing bananas for the monkeys. Their scene centered around vying for the attention of another zoo keeper, where they made bets against who could first catch his attention. By waving the guy over to talk to him, Lauren won the bet and collected money from Vanessa: Vanessa’s secret action was for Laura to wave, and Laura had wanted to collect money from Vanessa. I paired up with Dan and our scene was: flying car. Because Dan was seating in the starboard side of the car, I started the scene with a quip: “I always knew that the British would be the first to invent the flying car.” Very Harry Potter, I know. Heh. I wanted Dan to take off his shirt, which I got him to by telling him his bright pink shirt would look really good trailing in the wind behind the car. Dan wanted me to cover my ears, which he achieved when I rolled down the window to throw the shirt out of the car: “Aren’t your ears hurting from the unequal wind pressure!?!”
A quick break, and then we practiced “finding the game,” a concept we used to find the theme/plot to our scene to “walk up the stairs on.” I paired up with Lauren in this game, and we were two friends on a beach. We started the scene trying to play volleyball, but Jason quickly told us to veer away from the actions of the game and focused on something else. So we got out some suntan lotion and started lathering it on ourselves. It was at this time that Lauren commented that she was excited to be on the beach because she’d just bought a new bikini that I said, “Yah, look at your nice tight ass.” Jason immediately took that as “the game” and told me to go along those lines, come on to her, as outrageously as I could. His other suggestion was that when she started talking about the hot guys playing in the water, I should nod and agree, but keep my eyes and actions focused on her. So I started comparing one of the guys’ lips to her full, moist ones. Jason stopped us there, and got Dan and George up to try enact our scene – gay scenes are much funnier than lesbian ones. 😉 Kathy and Vanessa had a funny scene at the record store, where their entire game was focused on snatching the one single record left out of one another’s hands as they took turns arguing who most deserved the record.
We went back to practicing emotions again after that. In groups of three, we had to re-enact a scene three times, each time with a different emotional range. Oliver, Kathy and I were the first ones up, and our scene was at the bus stop. Oliver started the scene by bemoaning that the bus was late, and I chimed in, grumbling that I was late for my doctor’s appointment and it was my fourth time, and thus unacceptable. Kathy then jumped in to talk about her dog, and offered us to pat it. The second time we redid the scene, we had to whisper, and consequently, greatly tame down our actions. Instead of a frustrated wringing of my hand whining about the lateness of the bus, I crossed my arms and resignedly stared at my watch. The entire pace of the scene was slowed down, and our actions greatly minimized. The third time we redid the scene, Jason had us really really mad, yelling at the top of our voices – he even allowed us to curse and swear while we were screeching about how late that godamn fucking bus was. And when I patted the dog, it was almost as if I was giving it a hard scrub down.
With 10 minutes left into the class, we played some more freeze tag.