Work and real life have been pretty hectic as of late which has kept me from updating the blog as much as I’d like. Thankfully, I’ve caught up and finally able to post an update on my progress through improv.
We started level 3 (more on that Wednesday). Prior to the start of our first class, one of my new classmates had mentioned she opted to take the Saturday class in the previous session as she didn’t like the style of the teacher I had. This sentiment was echoed by others who did go through level 2 with me. They felt they didn’t understand his instructions or guidance. To be clear, his style was a rhetorical one. For example, if we seemed to be going off the rails or without direction in a scene, he’d ask “What is your character’s relationship with the other?” This confused my fellow classmates as they needed more direction on where to go. Perhaps it is my introspective nature, but I actually preferred his method as it allowed me to improve my characterization on stage. Each class had a theme, but my fellow classmates struggled to articulate what it was. In the interest of my own reflection, and if they want my thoughts on it, I’ve decided to write a recap of those classes I didn’t cover previously.
Do the Locomotion
This class focused on movement. The exercises focused on choosing an action and later creating a character who these actions would be associated to. I have the tendency to think multiple steps ahead. Contrary to others, I initially picked a character ahead of the action in the first exercise before understanding the theme of the class.
We began with differentiating slow vs fast movements to cross the room. Everyone who chose to take slow movements seemed to associate slow to sadness, depression, laziness, lethargy or morbid obesity. Instead, I was Nobunaga Ichiro, a samurai who was practicing his katas. I chose for my actions to instead be deliberate. A character who was intensely focused on the action at hand. My fast action centered on a tennis player during a match.
The second exercise was direct vs indirect action to cross the room. I opted for latter first and like many, went for a sneaky approach. At first I thought of making the character a thief of some kind, but as several others had already that idea, I swapped midway to a parent of a newborn who was sneaking around the house trying to avoid waking up the baby. The direct action had me emulate a train with the sobriquet of the “Red Rocket”.
Can you feel the _____ tonight?
Our next class involved emotions. We were instructed to perform scenes holding specific emotions. So for example, 1 participant would have to be angry, where the other had to be happy throughout. Other exercises worked on the emotional spectrum. We had to act out an emotion at level 1 through 10. Our teacher further explained when a scene plays out, one way to elicit a response is for a gradual increase of our emotional state on that spectrum (e.g., start the scene at a 3, and by the time we reach the climax of the scene we would be at a 10).
In particular, these exercises were meant to have us understand the outlook of the character(s) and their view of the situation they find themselves in.
Can you repeat the question?
The following class centered around asking questions. Often times, we might be confused or lack direction. We were shown by asking questions, how we can get feedback from our scene partner. Exercises had us often interact only through questions.
One game we played was a “last improv player standing” where two of us would be on stage and could only speak by asking questions to the other. Whomever screwed up, would “lose” and be replaced by someone else. I failed to win the two rounds as I was stumped on what to say when more or less asked my own question back to me.
Funny enough, when I explained this game to friends of mine at my birthday party, one tried to play the game with me. We were interrupted after a few minutes but I felt he was on the ropes.