Improv: Practice show

With our public show on the 27th fast approaching, I and several of my classmates attended the Sunday workshop at the school. While most of the class was there, only three of us participated in the public show. I won’t lie and will admit I was reticent to sign up. I’ve performed some – pretty – embarrassing songs at Karaoke, but this was partially different. In Karaoke, everyone is involved and if you pick a popular song there is a sing along element. Plus, there is always that one person who is probably worse than you are.

Unless you’re this guy.

However, the level 4 class participating with us was very supportive and explained to what we had to do. Nevertheless, I was nervous despite showing no outward signs. Once I jumped up on stage with the rest of my scene partners, the bright lights reduced my vision to only the first two rows and the nervousness melted away as our performance went on. We took part in three improv games.

No “S”

Your lines of dialogue must not include the letter “S” in any way. We were given as inspiration the word “canoe”. It was funny to see everyone fumble their lines trying to avoid the dreaded “S” and the crowd’s shouts of “DIE!” eliminating us from the game. By the time, my turn came around, I called out there was a waterfall up ahead and began miming paddling vigorously at counter-current. My scene partner simply replied with a “Yup”. Unfortunately, I accidentally slipped when I asked her “How can you be so unfazed in the face of danger!?!?!” and lost.

Word Restriction

The next game involved my two classmates and I where we were limited in the number of words we could use in our dialogue. I was given a 5 word limit, the others 2 and 3 respectively. Our inspiration from the audience was “cardboard”. I took the lead and mimicked being beneath a box.

As I had the most words permitted in my dialogue, I was largely driving the narrative from a descriptive point of view where as my partners were providing the actions. When the women noticed something in the distance. I cut open a hole at the top of my box and spotted a giant hamster. The beast began charging at us and so we fled to finish the scene.

BING!

No, not the less popular search engine but rather the name of the game. All 7 of us (including the level 4 team) were on stage and would kneel at the center of the stage. Every time the host hit a bell, some of us would stand up and begin performing a scene. Once the host lost interest or felt the scene hit a gag, he’d hit the bell again and those in the scene would kneel back down, and 1 or more of those kneeling would stand up and begin anew.

Our first scene was inspired by the word “Unicorn”. Everyone began to hesitate so I pretended to gallop astride a majestic unicorn across half the stage. Another improviser either didn’t catch it or went for a gag and said “Ok, male kangaroo you can get on the Ark.” For most of the remainder of the scene, I hopped in place as everyone else continued with the dialogue until the 4th and final person in the scene pretended to be a unicorn. It ended when I brought attention to Noah that the Unicorn was a unique being. Despite the protests of the Unicorn, he was not allowed on board.

I was involved in another scene where we were taking a tour of the amazon. The comedy came as my partner, another man, called me “honey”. In response, I moved in close and embraced him to a raucous response from the crowd. Our tour guide continued to describe some of the animals in the rain forest. Sadly, the scene ended before I wanted to say “It’s settled. We’re buying it.”  to spin it as a real estate sale rather than the implied tour guide.

Feedback

Following our performance, we were given feedback by the workshop teacher. Besides stating the audience seemed to enjoy the performance, he only gave us negative feedback which disappointed my fellow classmates. On the other hand, there was only 1 or two elements per person. The feedback I received was I was making too much noise on the scene while I was hopping up and down as a kangaroo. I actually recognized this somewhat as the scene went on and stopped hopping when I was delivering dialogue. Afterwards we spoke to each other and to our classmates who stayed to watch but hadn’t participated in the show. Whatever positive reinforcement we needed, they quickly provided which was much appreciated. Only 8 days to go for the real thing!

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