danieldwilliam: (Default)

Ever since I first met Fiona Watt I’ve been thinking about Directing. This was going to be a post outlining my theory of directing (1). My initial theory of directing which I would use as a provisional template to accept, reject or modify as I gained some practical experience.  Then the improviser in me kicked in.   I remembered how the five folk I was working with during Fiona’s session at the Residency weekend created Birnam Wood and understood the symbolism of the words and our interpretation of the words.  I’m an improviser.  We don’t Direct. We co-create. (2)

So, this is not a post about how I might Direct my first play. It’s a post about how I might help actors and technical crew access our play, hold a common vision of the play between them and share that common vision with an audience.


Read more... )
danieldwilliam: (Default)

One of the unexpected things that happened to me whilst I was at the National Theatre of Scotland’s Open Stages Residency was that I had an insight into the mind of an Classical Age infantry soldier and into the leadership of Hannibal Barca of Elephant fame.

As part of a group improvision leading to a a performance of the Prologue from Romeo and Juliet we were doing some movement exercises.  At one point we were placed in groups of three, in a triangle formation, and asked to move around the space avoiding other groups, staying in formation and changing direction. Each time we changed direction the person at the point of the triangle facing forward became the leader. We were encouraged to try and create a link with the leader pro tem so that we could anticipate their movement and try to move as one group. Then we tried the same exercise with a group of six. 

Six is an obvious triangle. As we were forming up I had my first insight into how it would be to be a Classical infantry soldier.  I was standing in the second row on the right and I felt anxious. It is almost Understanding Classical Military Tactics 101 that you would expect a formation to creep to the left and that the mentally strongest infantry are placed on the right of the formation.  Why? On the extreme right you are exposed. You hold your spear in your right hand and your shield in your left. Your shield covers the left half of your body and the right half of the man to your left. If you are on the extreme right of the formation your right hand side is exposed. You try and creep to the left to get more of yourself behind your own shield. This nudges the man to your left to the left and so on down the line until your whole formation is moving crabwise.

So, standing in the formation I could see this clearly but there was something else going on too.

I didn’t feel we were standing close enough to each other. Not for physical protection but for the co-ordination of movement.  I wanted to be sholder to sholder with the other person in the second rank and have the rank behind me right up against my back so that I could feel them move and they could feel me move so we all moved together. That was the aim of the exercise, for us all to move together. I was worried that I would look at the right ear of the leader, see it move, step forward and the people behind me would not see or feel me go and we’d create a gap.  Stepping closer to the rest of the group I think would have just caused them to shuffle along a bit and maintain the gap.

There is a link here to the group exercise where a team of people holding a cane on their outstretched index fingers have to put the cane on the floor.

You can stop or slow this formation creep with rigid discipline. Everyone concentrates on not moving left. Everyone concentrates on staying still relative to a fixed, clearly indentifable leader.

So I learned a bit about what it is like to be in a group of people trying to move in formation with each other and the psychological need to be close to the others to feel safe and to feel that you are in contact with them so you can co-ordinate your movements.

When we started moving in sixes I noticed that it’s harder to spot the new leader as you angle the formations. A quarter turn will open up some ambiguity. Am I at the front? Should I be or am I just here because the formation was a bit loose?  Who’s leading us now?

To solve this people need to be both happy to lead and happy to be lead and happy to sit in a dynamic place switching between the two. The same for being an individual and part of a mass. This takes practise, it takes focus. You need to know how to do it so you can look up and see what’s going on around you and then respond.

There are parallels with improv here. Being and not being the leader. Switching from one to the other. Focus and internalising the skills so you can concentrate on what is going on beyond your own small group.

I know what Hannibal did that made him such an effective general. He  created armies with very flexible formations. This allowed him huge tactical flexibility. He could perform manoeuvres that Classical doctrine said would be impossible because the mass formations of the phalanx or the legion would break up. He also had good use of combined arms, different types of soldiers working with each other. From these two factors, flexibility and combination he was able to win a series of  very heavy victories over the Romans.

I now see how he created that army.  From very small groups of self-leading troops he built larger formations that could break apart and reform very quickly.  Each small group had confidence in its leaders and knew that it could find its own way to where it was needed because it knew how to stay in touch with itself and could concentrate on problem solving.

For think I think he would have needed to drill his soldiers in small groups. Smaller than he would ever deploy on the battlefield. Again, and again, get from here to there in a small group, through obstacles, mainly made up of other soldiers going somewhere else. Practise it again and again, this time not leaving anyone behind.  Stay within arms-reach of each other – or break up and form another group and follow the rest. He would have had to drill them in the practise of handing leadership from one equal to the next. He would have had to give them the confidence that he would always explain to them what he wanted, the effect not the position, so they could trust that they all would know what the sought after outcome was without having to be told.

His leadership was distributed around his army, and then lent and borrowed amongst his soldiers according to their need in the moment.

So, trust, handing over leadership amongst equals, everyone knowing the desired outcome, knowing the basics really well so you don’t have to think about them, fluidity about method.

Hannibal was an improviser.  You can tell. He rehearsed a lot.

danieldwilliam: (Default)

I have been taking part in the Open Stages workshops. Open Stages is a Royal Shakespeare Company initiative to connect professional theatre to amateur theatre. 


There is some detailed chat about what I did. Implications will be separate posts and at some point you'll see some of this on stage. )

Then it was time to go home to Edinburgh, to MLW and the Captain who kindly allowed me to play  with him until bath time.

 All through the weekend the folk leading the workshops and the folk running the structure were superbly generous of their time.

 This weekend has been a fabulous opportunity to learn more about theatre, about making theatre and about my experience of theatre.

 It’s also been a great opportunity to be part of the National Theatre of Scotland. I feel proud and joyous about my participation.

danieldwilliam: (Default)


Cut for length - it's the socially responsible thing to do. )
danieldwilliam: (Default)

During my time travelling to and from the People’s Republic of North London and Enfield South I have been reading The Improvisation Game by Chris Johnstone.
 
I am struggling with the book.
 
It may be that it requires more knowledge than I have; that is a text for the experienced.
 
It may be that the subject matter is really much more difficult than I imagined it to be.

It may be that I am stupid.

It may be that the book is not as clear as it could be. 

Some, all, none, most or a changing selection of these may be true.


danieldwilliam: (Default)

Last Wednesday’s improv session was really, really good.

There was lots of energy in the room. As facilitator I’m going to take some credit for it but it comes from everyone so everyone should feel good about it.

Where did the energy come from?

I think firstly directly from me as I was ready to attack the class with vigour (not my fellow improvisors but the session).

 

I was reminded of a conversation I had with a New York improviser I know who was commenting on our occasional lack of energy so I was all ready to go an be energetic.

 

I’ve been reading a lot about improv at the moment. Dad bought me Keith Johnstone’s Impro for Storytellers for Christmas and I’m really enjoying it. One of the elements that I think is leaking off the page into my handling of the group is the use of competition. I introduced just a touch of competition into the session by requiring players to race from their seats to the far wall when volunteering for a handle.

 

I must get Impro back my mate who I lent it to so I can re-read it. I’m finding the theoretical underpinnings useful.

 

What is also helping is that I am feeling really positive about myself as a leader at the moment. My work on the AV campaign and some useful coaching from a friend have really helped me get a handle on how I can lead a co-operative. There are many similarities between the AV campaign and the Improv group.

 

Also helpful was a good warm up. By chance I re-found one called Enemy / Defender, which I used about six months ago. Everyone plays a best of three game of Stone, Paper, Scissors with one other player. The winner goes on to the next round and the loser become an enthusiastic supporter, (gang member) of the winner. The winner of the next round takes on all the supporters of both her own and her rival’s gang. By the end, if everyone joins in, you have two largish groups of people baying at each other. Gets the heart going.

We’ve two new members who I think are really good. I think their ability and enthusiasm helped increase the energy in the room.

I think a few people had had some good news (and it was noticeable that one of the members of the group who I think is usually superb and who I thought was a bit off her game on Wednesday had been knocked off her bike a few days before.)

 

All in all the energy and the talent (old and new) made for a great session. One of our best to date. Some great scenes and some great group and individual efforts.

 

It was a Tin of Destiny session where we pick games out of a tin rather than work through a pre-arranged list. It makes the night a bit random. Sometimes they don’t work well but tonight was great.

 An early game had everyone playing in turn the role of a school child being caned for not paying attention.  Lots of players really able and willing to be altered by the physical assault. Humorous but quite powerful.

I had the good fortune to play opposite one of the new people  where we were playing a scene about a date going really well set on top of the Eiffel Tower. The natural end to a date going really well (best date in the world) is for it to end with a passionate kiss. Or at least one of the ways it could end that would be accepted in the context of the story and which would alter the characters and their relationship is with a kiss. (bit of Johnstone tilts and circles, the theory is seeping in).

I’d only just met the woman I was playing opposite. She was really, really good and I found myself becoming the me who would be on a really good date with the character she was playing. I could feel the Italian linen suit I’d be wearing and the slight smell of the roses I’d brought her still on the lapel of my jacket. It suddenly, came into my head to kiss her (not a proper snog you understand, but a stage kiss). The idea and the exact response you get when you think “I really want to kiss this person, I wonder if I should.” I wasn’t playing him, I was inhabiting him, but him was built up of all the successful dates I’d ever been on and felt, on the inside, like the night I met MLW.

So, really, really pleased with the session.

Next time I’m going to try and introduce completive Tin of Destiny. Three teams of 3-4 players. Each possible pair match up and both play the same random game from the Tin and are scored by the players from the other team on how well they did (quality of scene, interest, technical proficiency) and also they mark themselves on how much they enjoyed doing the scene.

Then I unleash my programme of workshops for the term.
 


danieldwilliam: (Default)

I’ve recently finished running a series of classes on Improv for Beginners.

 

I’ve enjoyed teaching them. I’ve learned quite a lot about the theory of improv from teaching the practise. Preparing the sessions took quite a bit of time despite having helpful notes from one of my colleagues. He’s done much more improv and improv teaching so his notes were more of an aide memoire whereas mine were more worked up. My output was okay.  I think the next time I run them it will be good. I’ll have some extra time to think about how the sessions could link together and how to coach people to get the most out of the sessions and the games and exercises I’m using.

 

The Illustrator ran a very good session on How To Get the Most Out of the Games. It was very practical guidance on what to be thinking about when you start on a scene and how to make them work well. For example, in a Secret Endowment game (one where one player does not have know what they have been endowed with, like Repair Shop or Actor’s Nightmare), you get a better result if you keep making Offers to the other person. If you are passive and wait for them to give you clues the game is a little dull. Not only are you not really playing the guessing game that lies at the heart of the handle but it tends to make you a passive character and that’s dull. If you take action it is easier to shape in the right direction.

I’m finding some of the Fixture Secretary stuff hard going at them moment. I’m not getting much input about what we should be working on this term or how we might work on it. I’m certainly not getting any volunteers to do anything. I want to avoid the situation where I do all the thinking and all the doing. I don’t have time. I’m not a good enough improviser or teacher. I don’t know what these guys want so I’m not going to guess (although see para above on Secret Endowments).

I still enjoy it and the difficulties are far far outweighed by my enjoyment of the actual work and the value that I get from the group working well.

The other big improv wrestle is what is our overall objective. Do we want to put in the effort to improve our quality? Should we be a small, very committed group of improvisers who aspire to excellence or do we want to have an open access policy? There are pros and cons on both sides. More I think on this anon.

Over the next few months I want to work on narrative and character based games, some long form stuff and being snappier about how we do operate on stage (Get On, Get A Laugh, Get Off).

I'm also very excited about the prospect of doing a devised piece. (This is a piece where the performance is static but the content is created through a process of improvisation.)


danieldwilliam: (Default)

 A really good improv session last night. Excellent. I am so pleased with it.
I was leading a session on Endowment )

I was leading a session on Endowment. Endowment being the giving of attributes about a character, an environment or a narrative. It’s about making and accepting Offers and Chivalry

The handles worked well. Things by and large had a beginning, a middle and an end. They were funny. The new people seemed to get the concepts. Everyone seemed on good form, enthusiastic and keen to be involved. There were some good performances and some good contributions. Many of the old hands were giving bits of side coaching to new people, explaining why certain handles are structured the way they are or why certain guidelines apply. It was good to see.

I was pleased that the container I had built worked well and everyone felt able to do good work. I must ask one of the participants to tell me some more about why she thought it worked so I can build on the success. I was a little intimidated by having the Illustrator there as he taught me this series of classes last year. My how I’ve grown up in a year.

If I were being critical I would say that the characters and the narratives weren’t unique or deep but that’s okay because these are beginners’ session and people are still learning the handles and the Improv Guidelines and Concepts and how to create a narrative. There is a lot going on. What’s important is that things worked. Success is a good thing.

Of particular note is one scene in a handle called Here Comes, where two players on stage discuss the next character to arrive, endowing them wildly. Two newbies were on stage, let’s call them Eric Newby and Ernie Newby (they can own their own involvement in this if they wish). Eric set about endowing the next person to arrive, The Illustrator, as a deaf foreigner who spoke almost no English. Then Eric exited the scene. That’s a tough call. Especially as Ernie left on stage with the Illustrator had never done improv before. I winced when I saw what was happening. It worked out. The Illustrator came on and mimed the characteristics of the next person to arrive, a strong person they were going to need to move an object on stage and thus end the overall handle. Ernie guessed that that the next person to arrive would be a monkey. A strong monkey turned up and shifted the object to the rapturous and concluding applause of all. What really impressed me was the Illustrator’s flexibility and mastery of his craft and how Chivalrous he was. He knew this was going to be challenging so made a big entrance giving everyone time to settle into the situation. I was also really, really, really impressed by Ernie who could have gone to pieces but didn’t. Characters were retained, narrative was developed, offers were made, the next entrant was endowed as a monkey. One of the key bits of learning for new improvisors is that there is no wrong answer, except no answer.  If you think your partner is miming a monkey, say monkey, and trust that between you can make it work.

Key learning points for me were chivalry is important, how useful it is to keep calm and carry on and just how good my improv troupe is. You could describe endowing someone as a deaf foreigner as Pimping (deliberately putting someone in a difficult situation through endowment). Being someone who struggles to communicate and with whom other people struggle to communicate with makes it difficult to carry on any dialogue.  On the other hand, it was a very strong clear offer. No one could be in any doubt that there was a defined character ready to walk into. A tricky one to play but something inhabitable.

 It just so happens that the Illustrator is one of the best people I know at gibberish games so could do a non-English speaker superbly. If I had done this to the Illustrator you could argue that I knew he could carry it off and I would know I would have to work with him to help him out. For Eric you can argue (and I totally do) that until you see the difficulties that Pimping can create it’s difficult to see when you’re doing it. Until you’ve had something technically difficult or really strange launched at you it’s not easy to grasp how discombobulating it can be. The difference between Pimping and a challenging Endowment is subtle and a lot depends on the intention.  All in all it was a great learning experience.

It also made me reflect on my own Chivalry or lack or it. In the same handle I endowed Ernie as being from Govan. Ernie is not good at accents. I didn’t know this. I had (unintentionally) put Ernie in a difficult position. Had I done it deliberately I would be very cross with myself. Doing it by accident was careless and I should have been more careful. I know better and should have been thinking further ahead. This is why one of the important things about improv is learning the strengths and weaknesses of your colleagues. The improv group is a safe place to explore this.

I notice that I feel different after leading a session to how I feel after participating in one. Participating in a session, especially a really good one usually leaves me highly energised. Leading one I notice doesn’t leave me energised. I feel like I’ve done some hard work. Enjoyable work. Work to a good purpose. Work nevertheless. I feel like energy has flowed out of me. Not a lot of energy and I’m glad I spent it. That’s one to think on 

I have been discussing if Improv is a eudaimonic activity or not and I wasn’t sure. I enjoy it so much that I find it difficult to pick out the enjoyment from doing from the doing good and being connected happiness. I think it probably is eudaimonic, for me at least. It’s certainly not empty enjoyment. You have to put work into enjoying it and the amount you get out depends on how much you put in and how well your group works.


danieldwilliam: (Default)

 

 I was talking about improv last night with [livejournal.com profile] star_tourmaline . We were discussing the concept of status in improv and in real life and some of the cross over. I related an anecdote about a train trip I had where I played status games with the carriage. For technical reasons we were having the conversation in 140 characters or less so for Star_tourmaline’s benefit here is the anecdote in full with some reflections.

 I was travelling down to Bristol to see Bluebird and had bought and brought with me Keith Johnstone’s seminal work on Improv, called Impro. One of the key chapters, certainly one of the two that really resonated with me was the chapter about status.

 In Improv status is more than just your formal position in a hierarchy. This is certainly part of it but by no means the whole story. Status is about self-worth, your position in the community, how you feel about yourself. There are elements of dominance and submission and position in a pecking order. A janitor can have high status if he feels really strongly positive about his role in society. Status is relative and changes over time. Status is cool.

 Status can come from formal hierarchy but also from charisma, from  your skills and talents and from the situation you find yourself in. If you have the two last life jackets on the sinking ship you have status.

 Low status people often adopt high status behaviour badly.  They behave like they think alpha males behave. They shout or pout.  High status individuals don’t have to do that. People do what high status individuals want without them having to shout. They create an aura of you wanting to please them and of being in control of the themselves.

 I am reminded of my dad teaching my friends and I tricks to do with Zippo lighters. After showing us some neat tricks he picked up the lighter one last time and said “Best trick boys,” then he slowly  and very, very coolly, opened the lighter, light it first time and light a cigarette, “Easy, boys, easy”. The man light a cigarette with the appropriate tool and we would have followed him anywhere.

 So, the chapter is about status, what it is, where it comes from and how to convey it. I decided to try it out on the train. I adopted as many of the hallmarks of a high status individual as I could and staked out a four person table on an increasingly crowded train. I sat in the aisle seat, with my jacket hung up in the window seat (the crucial trick is not to look at your jacket, high status people don’t fuss about their belongings and they don’t apologies for hanging their jacket up in the most convenient place to them). I sat up straight, good posture and calm clear movements. I looked people in the eye briefly. High status people rarely have to stare someone out. The look was not meant to be intimidating, rather it was saying you are welcome to my train, I do hope it conveys you splendidly, these seats are taken.

 

It worked. I felt magnificent. Danicus Magnus, and there were people standing in the aisle rather than ask me if they could sit in either of the two empty seats opposite me.

 I found (and I only properly grounded this last night with [livejournal.com profile] star_tourmaline   that I can move between stati but in a way that is much more about me than about playing a role. Like Clark Kent and Superman I can shift from being low status to high and back again. Last night’s learning was that the two aspects are equally part of myself. When I convey high status well I am being myself as I am when I’m having a great day.

 I wasn’t playing a role on the train. I was just being me as I am when I have high status. Myself, but greater, Danicus Magnus indeed.

 If you carry in your head the temporary belief that you have high status, that you are a high status individual and you have learned the high status tells that you use naturally, high status will emanate from you. It just flows out of you like a magnetic field, touching everybody and everybody will react to it. Because of our history as social pack animals we are highly sensitised to status tells. We read the room for them all the time without realising it.

 I hope that in time and through practise I will be able to synthesis the high status leader, the complex status wizard and the low status lost boy into the coherent whole that they should be. Both on stage and in real life.


danieldwilliam: (Default)

We started our conversation in the pub with a discussion about Blocking. 

 

Blocking is where an Offer is made by one player and not accepted by the other. An Offer is some addition to the scene. It could Endow a character with a personality trait, a problem or a physical object. It could create a piece of narrative history or define some part of the physical environment.

 An example of an Offer is... )

An example of an Offer is

 

Player 1 “I like your new football”.

 

A block would look like this

 

Player 2 “It’s not a football, it’s a kitten”.

 

The problem with blocking is that it takes the scene nowhere. It also destroys the spontaneity of the other Players and kills trust. It’s why one of the Rules is “Always Say Yes; Always Accept the Offer).

 

Offers can be more subtle than my camera example. Blocks can be too. What if Player 2 had replied, “Thank you, it’s going flat though, so I’m going to put it away.” They’ve accepted that they are holding a football, but it’s not going to take any further part in the narrative.

 

Blocking is a bit different from Wimping. Wimping is where you accept the Offer but talk about it, instead of doing something with it. For example

 

Player 1 “I like your new football”

 

Player 2 “Thanks, my uncle bought it for me”.

 

Player 1 “Your uncle, Steve.

 

Player 2 “Yes, Steve, he bought me this nice new football”

 

The story is going sideways. This is not a bad thing but at some point someone is going to have say

 

Anyone “Shall we have a kick around?” At last we get to some action.

 

So, we were talking about Blocking and there are three examples to mention. The Wise Woman of Improv talked me through each example. She knows her stuff and I think speaks with the zeal of a convert.

 

The first was a partial acceptance. The Offer was that there was a window. The partial acceptance, “That’s not a window, that’s a skylight.” It sounds like an Acceptance. Player 2 has Accepted that there is a physical object where Player 1 was pointing and acknowledged that Player 1is suggesting that that is a window. What this lead to was a few minutes of bickering. 

Player 2 “Call that a window, I don’t”

Player 1 “You can see the sea”

Player 2 “No you can’t! That’s the sky, same colour, different thing”

 

Bickering leads to talking heads. There was some witty word play and with strong characters it might have been excruciatingly funny but we hadn’t got strong characters yet, just a few minutes of watching two people bicker about the window. This is a good example of Talking Heads (characters talking about things rather than doing them) Gossip if you will.

 

The second example was an Offer that closed off narrative. The offer was that Player 1 (and thereafter every other player) kept being struck in the face by acid. One of the Rules is that you don’t play children, drunkards, animals, idiots or madmen. This is a Rule because those characters don’t have narrative drive. Things happen to them, they don’t happen to things. They are also not bound by narrative constrictors. A madman can do anything, so your fellow players have no idea what you might do. So too a stage full of blind men. You can’t have a story because none of the blind men can control their environment. One sighted man with three blindmen, that’s a story, four blindmen just ended up with some low quality slap stick.

 

The third block was egregious. So egregious that I winced. I should have challenged it, but we’re not quite ready for challenging yet. It was Negation, by this I mean the removal of an Offer that has been made and Accepted earlier. Back to the football example, just before the kick around starts a third Player enters and hoofs the ball into next Tuesday. No ball, no kick around. Now a good scene might develop between the three players but it is founded on the selfishness of Player 3 destroying what Player 1 and Player 2 had created.

 

 

Here’s what happened. In the Handle each Player has to enter the stage, either creating an entrance, or using one that someone else has created. They carry with them into the space an object, they then interact with an object that is already in the space. Then they leave through an exit that they create or by using one already created by an earlier Player.

 

We are awaiting the entry of Player 4. Player 1 has planted some plants (I took them for beanstalks), Player 2 had created a tap and a watering can (left lying about), Player 3 has indicated that the plants have grown chest high. Enter Player 4. Player 4 carefully and deliberately cuts down all of the beanstalks. We are now left with pretty much a bare stage. Every idea everyone else had about what to do with the beanstalks has been killed off. The complete Negation of everything we had been working on.

 

So I learnt a lot about how blocking works, or doesn’t work. Having had the Wise Woman pick apart what had been going on I understood how a partial Acceptance of an Offer can lead to wimping or to bickering and therefore Talking Heads.

 

Also I learnt, Improv is not easy. It looks like it’s just some guys on stage messing about. It’s harder than that. It’s different to acting. There is some cross over in skills but they are not the same. Being a good actor is not enough. Good Improv requires working well with whomever and whatever turns up. Blocking kills not only what has turned up but also any inclination to create and make an Offer. I don’t want to be on a stage with someone who might destroy what we’ve been working on and leave me exposed, alone.

 

Also, The Tall One and the Wise Woman said some nice things about me, which was nice. I was pleased.


danieldwilliam: (Default)
 

I really enjoy my improv sessions and hanging out with my improv chums.

 

The last session was great, not because we were doing great work, but because I learnt a lot about the craft and myself from taking part in it.


Cut for Tidyness )

 
 

One of the things I am learning is that I need to be better at explaining things. This will be made easier if I had a better idea what I am doing. It is easier to explain an improv Handle if you are very familiar with the rules and know what the Handle needs in the way of Askfors, set-ups, and key concepts.

 

At the moment we have lots of new people. They are terrific. Very talented, enthusiastic and good to hang out with. However, they are new, they don’t know all the Handles, or the Concepts or the Rules. (Not that I do, but I have a year and a bit and three shows under my belt). I find myself in much more of a leadership role than I was expecting. More on this anon I’m sure.

 

 

Last Wednesday’s session was a Tin of Destiny session, followed by an outing to the pub. Tin of Destiny sessions are playshops where we pick games at random from a Tin. The idea is that we play whatever comes out of the Tin. We don’t need a facilitator and because we don’t know what is coming out of the Tin we can’t plan and so we have to improvise.

 

 

Sometimes they work very well, sometimes less so. A lot depends on who is there, how they are feeling and working and which combination of handles come out. If you get lots of hard technical exercises and a group with lots of new people you get superficial results. If lots of parlour games come out, you have fun but it’s not satisfying.

 

Half way through last Wednesday’s session The Tall One (who I utterly respect as an improviser and think is a top bloke and is one of the reasons I wanted to join this group) shouted stop. The Tin had thrown up lots of parlour games and some physical stuff and we were struggling with bits of Blocking and Wimping. “Not Enough Narrative Stuff” he cried. “Let’s do something with a beginning a middle and an end” He was right. Although the next few scenes weren’t classics (and we were still struggling with blocking) it was great to see some stories coming out.

 

The Tall One’s outburst and the fact that we’d had some issues with blocking meant that when we got to the pub afterwards, late in the evening we were ready and able to have a really good conversation about what we are trying to do as a group and, on a technical point of view, blocking.

 

 

So my learnings from last Wednesday Session are

-explain things better by
  • -being clear in my own head what I want to explain
  • -not assuming that other people have got it when they nod, err on the side of repetition and being overly simplistic.
  • -asking for help, even if I don’t think I need it
- stop the Tin of Destiny sessions if they aren’t working – know when to get off the bus when it’s going the wrong way.
- we do our best work when we focus on narrative and character and let the fun and the funny stuff flow from the scenes we create.
-the more Askfors the better, the skills comes from working with the constraints, not from having none. Improv is like weaving a basket not holding a bag or building a box.

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danieldwilliam

June 2017

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