Long Form Immersion, Day 2, with Rachael Mason and Susan Messing

Today we did the Bunny Bunny, Toki Toki warm up – cracking fun warm up, and as we went round people got more and more into it, committing more and adding their own emotion or changing their voice, until the circle was absolutely raucous.

Then we did a non speaking game. As two person scenes, we were given a location, and were only allowed to speak in sequential numbers, going from 1 to 20. We then did to 30. Apparently this is a Meisner technique and is often done to 50. Methos acting and improv have many similarities, and reading about Meisner will help our improv.
Learning points were:
The words are really not that important
You can really take your time
Scenes that emerged:
Truckers arguing about who should drive
Romantic campfire
Mother and child at a fair
Brother and sister clearing out the attic

Rachael’s Nuggets
Listen, break it down. You will have a number of ideas. Del Close always said “pocket your first idea”. The first idea is everyone’s first idea. Think for a second. The next idea is more interesting.
School doesn’t have to mean scenes in a classroom. School of fish? School of thought? School Disco? Skol? Maestro? School a horse?
Make the more mature choice

The Weirdass. This form was used to help get us listen better to the source scene. Listen, pull out themes, make associations and play off the associations.

In improv, if you say what you want, you get the opposite.
If you physicalise what you want, you generally get it.
The exercise goes from Themes to Specifics – so from Arcs to Points.

Del would say that the audience will fill in the gaps between our choices and the suggestions.
A weak choice falls straight from the suggestion.
A strong choice will fall further away and, with your team’s choices falling in other directions too, you have a suggestion held up like a tent.

The connection from the scene back to the source scene doesn’t have to be blatant. It doesn’t even need to exist, because the audience will interpret the gap for themselves and assume the connection for themselves, however it is better to have a connection in your own head. The key is not to worry.

Think of starting everything with physicality.

The Weirdass:
     |> Source Scene. This is an improvised interview, showing off character and relationship. This we did as pairs, as if we were being interviewed for a documentary.
          |> 3 (to 5) Scenes
               |> Source Scene. This can be pulled from stuff in the scenes that triggered something, or can just lead from the first source scene.
                    |> 3 (to 5) Scenes
                         |> Source Scene. Same as above.
                              |> 3 Scenes
                                   |> Source Scene (STL – Stick the Landing / Epilogue) Here we finish it off, give it an ending.

Rachael’s Nuggets
Ask for a thoughtful suggestion. There are ways of asking for a suggestion that will not elicit “cock”, “prostitute” or “dildo”. Think of questions that get an answer that is not so base.

Pick the word and keep listening.

Hit it boldly.

Find the relationship. This is the safety net as this is the foundation to everything.


The second half of the day was with Susan Messing.

We worked on monologues. Susan told us that she doesn’t like to do these because they are about her being her on stage, whereas she like to play characters and escape herself. As such, she forces herself to do these. Force yourself to do the things you don’t want to do. Always be challenging yourself.

Generating information from monologues, take what tickles, explore it in the scenes.

Susan’s Nuggets
Improv is a sociological study of the human condition – when it is heightened and played to its best.

Treat your scene partners as Artists, Heroes and Geniuses.

People enjoy watching you actively think.

Upstage is environment, downstage is power. There is no hiding on stage, so either be upstage and live the environment or downstage and live the power. Commit to whichever choice you make.

If you say “for those of you that do not know”, you draw your audience in by treating them as intelligent but necessarily knowledgeable.

Long form is teamwork.

Improv is not about words, it is about what is going on, and what is going on is actions. (In life, trust someone for what they do, not for what they say – what do her actions tell you about her?)

Monologues are about honesty and sincerity. Come from the place of “people are generally good”

After each monologue, see what titillates.

We did an imitation game. Everyone follows everyone else’s physicality and heighten it, see where you go with it. A great flowing of the group mind, to make something greater than the sum of its parts.


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