Rehearsing with some more improv games for this session. Certain people won’t be able to come perform with us on Friday, which is unfortunate because some people are really good at it.
We played the typical games that you play before an improv show: alphabet game, expert, blind date, interrogation game and a new game: Props. It is extremely fun but it gets much more difficult the more it goes on. You get one prop and you need to make up a scene that involves that prop in any way.
Funnily enough we played improv games on this commission lesson. It wasn’t a non commission lesson though. We played these games to get us into the mindset of devising things because one of our ideas is devised and it needs to be decent.
We played freeze, turn left, fortunately and unfortunately and a few more. These help us because they stimulate our brain to perform things just as we come up with things as well as characterise quickly.
On our next lesson we took a similar idea but now we had to find a new game online or in books in about 20 minutes and then teach it to the rest of the class. Me, Thalia and Will found many games which we wanted to teach. I personally wanted to teach the game ‘Super Heroes’ but it’s really complicated to explain. We went through a lot of options in Encyclopaedia of Improv but we chose to do ‘Director’s Cut’ it’s simple and it’s fun. A normal scene is acted out with three people and then one extra person is assigned to be a director who at any point can say ‘CUT! I want you to play it all now in Opera’ but the location and the scene would continue the same except with that added suggestion.
The other games explained to us were also really fun! ‘Layers’ which is just like freeze except people keep coming in instead of swapping out; ‘Secret Leader’ which works much better in bigger groups where one group has to make a figure and the other has to recreate that figure. One person who wasn’t in the room has to guess who’s directing the people who are recreating the figure from that group; ‘GMTV’ is a fun game with two casters and as many people as needed who they interview for various things that they make up. So they could make up that I’m a scented toilet paper collector and I would have some time to figure out my life and then be that person.
Today we found out the year 1 actors would be performing the Improv show next week. Unfortunately we only had this day and the next Wednesday to rehearse as well as the Friday of the show to run through it once but that’s it. Not much rehearsal or planning available but we won’t need that much anyway as we can improvise.
We played a few improv games and started planning out who would be in which games on the performance night.
The interrogation game is not one that I’m too good at because I don’t have very good cultural knowledge, or at least I don’t think I do. I can be one of the interrogators but not the person guessing things because most probably I won’t guess it.
Questions only is a game that has improved a lot in terms of my liking. I’m still not great at it but I can do it and it is fun.
Talking about commission and how improvisation would work in a show like this. It is much harder than we think because we would need to know people and paintings from that era.
Trying out a bit of improvisation in relation to this commission we played scenes from a hat after writing down our own scenes and putting them in a hat.
I played a person who found the collection of notebooks of Van Gogh and a policeman who wanted to buy a Banksy artwork.
A new game this time: spotlight. It’s two people in a restaurant who have some kind of relationship and they’re talking about some kind of subject. Either revealing something or asking something. There are various tables at the same time but people can only hear one of them, the one that is on a spotlight. The other tables carry on their conversation in a quiet fashion and when the spotlight switches to another table they speak out loud and the last table to have been on spotlight quiets down so there is only one table speaking.
This put the pressure on people to still carry on a conversation without anyone else hearing it completely improvised.
First we found objects in the room and piled them up in a random way to make a shape. From that we had to think of what the pile of objects could represent; a story for it. Once you get into the creative mindset your mind does the job for you. You can always find or create a story in anything. The simplest and most random of things can develop into a huge story with a plot that deviates from the original thing a lot but it still was the reference point and the inspiration.
And then we had to do it in a different genre, we chose to do it in a Jeremy and Kyle talk show kind of way.
We got paired into groups of 2 and Thalia was told to start off with “I love the night because” and then she had to expand on that with whatever came into her head. I guess it’s not a hard game to play if you’re a naturally talkative person because this is literally just saying what you think about the night, or what you like about it. After Gary said switch I had to reply with what I liked about the night and I said things about the time I spent with my girlfriend staring into the stars. Next she had to be angry at whatever I said and I think she found it harder to say these things to me than for me to take them. I wasn’t at all offended that she said that I always talked about my girlfriend and myself. Then I had to reply to her with a sad tone. I spoke about how much I missed my girlfriend and I just couldn’t stop talking about her because it’s the only thing I have. That was overall not too hard of an improvisation exercise. I couldn’t do it for too long but I knew where to go when the exercise was given.
Next one we did was we divided the partners in two and assign A to one person and B to the other. Without the other partner knowing, person B was told to act as if they wanted to be with the other person or even have sex with them while person A was told to act like they wanted to go away and just pretending to be their friend. I was the person B. Then we switched roles and I was the one who wanted to go away. A person could only act more vocally and person B could only act more physically. Gary kept increasing the intensity of how much we wanted to get away/get together too. Acting only vocally is harder. Afterwards we discussed this and Gary mentioned that at one point you would say “FUCK OFF!”
Things that work in devising a scene for inanimate objects: characterisation of the objects, their relationships with the other objects and movement of the objects. A way to devise a story for, say, a fridge and what is in it; what items are in it and what they talk about is to think of an actual story of how they got there. For example we thought to the story of a guy, Tim, who is a meat lover. We decided he would have milk, cheese, bacon, tomato and a beer in his fridge because he is also quite a common fellow economically. His girlfriend, Lucy, is a vegan and brings in a plethora of items that the rest of the items in the fridge are dumbfounded by: tofu, soy milk, dairy free yogurt, kale and champagne.She is a bit upper class and can afford all of this and all of that vegan stuff.
Having learned how to personify an object, I now had to practise it with other types of inanimate objects. We devised a scenario for a cupboard under the sink with bleach, washing powder and a dirty sock, me.
I learned how to personify an object more clearly. First you would attribute a few qualities to the object that could also be applied to humans and then asking yourself: How would I act as a human who had these qualities? How is my speech (speed, accent, dialect)? How is my movement (pace, gait, posture)? What sort of person would they be? With all that in mind a character can be more easily defined from an object.
We learned how to devise a story but had to improvise most of the script following just basic guidelines that we had put for ourselves.
Erica gave each of us a prop and some of us an extra prop and we had to devise our own game. Our group got given the hat and pack of cards. What we devised was the game of card and hat. Essentially you have to throw the hat on top of a person’s head, but from how far, by steps, and how many tries you have is decided by the cards that you draw. All of the games were fun but the most fun was either ours or the one with the catching and dodging of the balls.
I also learned the alphabet game in season time and some bits about what is necessary to be a stand up comedian (the three legged stool: material, personality, status).
Improvisation is all about practice and we practiced it with a few games of freeze and the worker and the boss, mostly. Freeze is, I think, my favourite one because it just relies so much on instant thinking.