David is thinking about the meat faerie (zoomardav) wrote,
David is thinking about the meat faerie

First Day of Festival PT 1: When the Hero Trips, the Clown Appears

I had my laptop on the bus today as I made my way down to the theater. I was sending emails to work through open wi-fi slots (Yes, it's stealing, but if your network is named "default" you're asking for it) as I made my down first avenue. My favorite name for a wireless network was "Happyland." I wanted to pull the cord and stop the bus right there and track down Happyland. I hope the name isn't ironic.

Today at the festival all the different groups from around the world showed off a long form improvisational format that they had developed.

But first, Henk showed us a series of clowning exercises that he thought would make good improv warm ups. (This is traditional clowning stuff, not makeup clown stuff. So, you clownphobes don't have to worry.)

The first exercise was for the group to mill around, each person looking to make eye contact with someone else. When it happens, you stretch your arms and greet that person as if they were your greatest long lost friend. Saying something like, "Hello! Oh my goodness. It is so great to see you." When you are finished hugging and such, you go back to looking for another person to greet in that way.

After a few minutes of this, he switched the exercise to catching someone's eyes and greeting them as your friend, but before you hug, you realize that it isn't the person you thought it was and you apologize for the mistake.

The third step is to split into groups of three. Two people stand facing one another with the third person in the middle facing one of the people on the end. The two people on the ends see one another and react as if they are long lost friends. The person in the middle reacts as if they think it is them that is being recognized. The people on the ends bypass the person in the middle and hug.

This is actually a really good exercise. When you watch it, it is impossible not to watch the person in the middle react. This is such a little microcosm of someone thinking they are great and then not being great, it illustrates, as Henk said, the principle of, "When the hero trips, the clown appears."

It made me, for the first time ever, want to take a class with the word "clown" in its name. That is scary.

Then, dggoldst got up to introduce a longform developed in Slovenia. But first, pay attentionfrogboy29, he had us write down an improv goal for ourselves. He is going to mail them to us in six weeks to see if we had achieved them.

His warm up exercise was interesting. You were to write down two emotions or ways of being on pieces of paper and then mill about making eye contact with people. You draw one of the other persons pieces of paper and they draw one of yours. You play the emotion or state on the paper you draw in an improvised cocktail party conversation. He called switch and you would move on to the next person and repeat the process.

His form started with six improvisers in chairs on the stage. From a suggestion, one person starts telling a story with a lot of personal detail. After that story someone says, "that reminds of" and tells another story. After 6 to 9 of these, you start scenes using the basic scenarios and details of the story. The idea was that you could see what comes next after the stories.

I'm too tired to type an example, if you want one, ask for one in a comment.

Then, Randy went through City Life. Which I love and have seen many times, so I didn't take many notes.

Then, we learned a modification of our longform "Campfire" from Belgium. The Europeans don't have a tradition of telling stories around a campfire, so they came up with a form called "Coffee Table." After someone dies in Belgium, the friends and relatives gather around a coffee table and drink coffee and tell stories about that person. So, for the long form, you sit around the coffee table and tell stories about a dead person. Much like Campfire, you act them out.

The interesting part of it is that the emotions revealed in the stories aren't played at the coffee table.

Last form was a modified Domino. Which is a character game that Randy developed. It is alternating monologs and scenes that expose characters. The Austrians have slowed it down so that instead of many, you just see three or four characters. The monologs are longer and told in three parts with scenes between.

So, the pattern goes. Monolog 1, Scene with 1, Monolog 2, Scene with 2, Monolog 3, Scene with 3.
Next round, Monolog 1 2nd part, Second scene... etc

Third round: Monolog 1 3rd part, Monolog 2 3rd part, Monolog 3 third part.


It is important that the scenes are in contrast to the monologs.

I am tired, so these notes are crappy. If you want to know more, ask and I will tell.
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