Third week, fourth day of class: New forms and new sketches

Today’s class began with a warm up exercise and then another montage/back line improv set. Jeff had us begin the scene and then as each person talked, the other person in the scene had to either back up or get closer to the other person depending on if they liked what the other person said. This exercise was hard for me because I often am too scared to make a big choice and just go with it, I want to wait and see if it will go with what they have imagined for the scene. It is good to see what my bad habits are and be able to fix them. Our next back line exercise began normally but then Jeff had us start every line with an audible, emotional sound. This helped to make me have a strong emotional reaction to the scene.

We then started talking about Deconstructions which are a specific type of improv structure that is similar to the Armando that is used at Improv Olympic (iO). Deconstructions begin with a grounded, “root” scene that features two actors acting out a relationship. Using themes that were discussed in that scene, “pull” scenes are performed next. These are much shorter and, as their name suggests, involve “pulling” specific themes/ideas from the root scene to inspire the next scenes. In a scene with another classmate where she initiated that we were children on the ferris wheel, I didn’t feel very successful. After the scene, Jeff told the glass (generally, but speaking to me and my scene partner) that when playing children, it’s always more meaningful if you give them an average intelligence rather than keep them in the dark.

In writing, before we read our sketches, we played a hilarious short warm up game. It went like this: someone in the middle would go around randomly to others in the circle and say an array of words that corresponded, (cow — moo, cat — meow, etc). If the opposite person didn’t respond with the right word, they were then in the middle. The game was hysterical and I enjoyed it. After this, we read our scenes aloud and discussed helpful ways to heighten them. We then started looking at scenes with heavy audience participation. We watched a 10-minute sketch that involved an audience member going with an actor to a “prom.” Though the audience volunteer was not shy at all, she was (at all times) with a cast member who could lead her around and give her a purpose in the scene. It was interesting to learn about the logistics of those types of sketches that seem so natural. We then tried our hands at pitching audience interaction scenes. I decided on one that took place in an arcade and I think it turned out pretty funny. We shall see!

Tonight I saw Improvised Shakespeare at Improv Olympic for the second time and loved it even more. The group of actors were obviously so brilliant, but over that, they just were having fun. One actor, John Sabine, was clearly trying to mess with every actor in every scene— proposing things like an “April Tree” and a “courage falcon” that turned every moment into hysterics. The cast is incredible and I am so inspired every time I see them! I hope to see them again before I leave Chicago.

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