Wow, what a week. I’ve now been in Chicago for 8 days and for the last 7 of them have had classes. My next day off is in September but, luckily, some days I have fewer classes than others…
The past week I have been on Susan Messing and Rachael Mason‘s Long Form Improvisation immersion course. Susan and Rachael both trained under the legendary (and definitely quite strange) Del Close, and I am getting the impression that in terms of legends in this business, Del was it, and the other person in this town taking that accolade is Mick Napier. Which is very cool, as I have a class with him in September.
However, there are not that many teachers in Chicago left who were taught by Del Close, and to have had my first main class being taught by two of them was pretty splendid. Rachael wrote most of the Second City improv curriculum (Susan wrote much of the iO one), and the two of them are in an improv group called The Playboys, with a third lady called Kate Duffy, who are described as the finest female group in Chicago – a city chock full of improv groups.
So, the class. Well, at 14 strong, 50% were from out of the country, and the Italians’ English was a long way from perfect, with one girl, Tania, who required constant translation. However, this proved no barrier as this meant that they all played much more with their physicality, something that the class massively concentrated on.
One thing about the week was that we covered so much ground it is almost difficult to remember it all. Thankfully I took extensive notes that I continue to write up here (I’m about 20 pages behind in my transcription!), but even so, I’m sure there were many nuggets that I missed. Lots of notes for me on how to improve.
This is a tricky game, but I suppose one of the things about the week was the simplification process. We were given a number of techniques to help us be more natural in scenes so that we could allow our subconscious to do the work for us. Easily told, more trickily implemented. I do feel though, that over the next couple of months the lessons I learnt this week, and also the lessons from both the clown and also the mime and physical theatre courses I did, will start to gel in my brain and I will be able to incorporate them more and more into my work here. Well, one would hope!
Suffice to say, this is proving an intensive time of it. I have 9 more weeks at this level and, if they continue in the same vein, this will be both fantastic and totally knackering. To paraphrase Susan Messing, “Welcome to my cock”.