Annoyance, Level 2 with Rebecca Sohn

This was the most amazing class. Rebecca normally only teaches level 5, and after today’s class I can understand why, it was a splendid class and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

We started the class as with all Annoyance classes, a bunch of unqualified scenes, just scenes with no aim and just to get our improv juices flowing. Rebecca is a very attentive teacher, so we had her laughter through this to encourage us, but the scenes themselves are just standard Annoyance stuff, to get us going.

Then into the exercises.
We started by doing 2 person scenes where we were limited to only 3 words each (so, 6 in total over the whole scene).
This was very much an encouragement of the Annoyance principal: look after yourself.
Because of the limitation, these scenes tended to be strongly emotional, and, necessarily, physically big. Subsequently, this made the scenes themselves big scenes.
It made us be affected by other people’s choices.
Every scene was about:
The relationship;
A very clear point of view;
Simplicity;
Listening to your partner with the body.

***

Next we did 2 person scenes where only a word each was allowed.
The intention was very clear. Strong moves were made. There was massive gravity to the scenes (think Desmond Jones’ point about movement completed, followed by the words, and the power of that)

***

Then, we did 2 person scenes with only a vowel sound / vocalisation. We started the scenes by just looking at our partners, making the sound, finding the meaning for each of us ourselves and then playing the scene as that emotion.
Sounds are primal. They are exposing and embarrassing. They are very expressive and very specific. Because the sound can be such an emotion, say it lots of times at the top to really get a feel for it.

The scenes from this were very compelling. They were all about the relationship.
The audience were watching a real connection on stage, and watching two people discover it.

We use words to take us away from the stage, but we can also use words to really connect with our partners. Think of the sound of the words, think of being right here within the scene.

***

We then did scenes with 30 seconds of no speaking (sounds allowed – and encouraged). At 30 seconds, Rebecca coughed to indicat we could speak, and the scenes developed from there.
These scenes were extremely good fun. Very nice, subtle and complex relationships were able to develop. These scenes had a real pathos to them.
The time that was taken at the top of the scenes allowed the players to create a point of view and a relationship.
This really made sure the scenes were about you and your partner, and particularly it allowed us to inhabit our feelings towards our own and our partner’s physicalities.

The learning point is to choose, off the back wall, our own physicality, and to make a quick choice about your partner’s physicality – and to decide how that makes you feel.
Also, make the same quick choice about how we feel about our own physicality.

“I have my stuff going on, that person has theirs, I trust us both and I react by feeling it”

Have a strong point of view.

The things that help off the back wall are things about you yourself, so, a physicality, a point of view, an emotion.

If you think about a Harold, the trouble often comes when the decision is narrative.

(This means that when you make a decision to do something because you are trying to tell a story rather than the decision coming from physicality, point of view, and / or emotion, you are putting the cart before the horse.

If you have committed to those other things, the decisions will come from them, and the narrative will progress naturally, whereas if you make the decision because you want to move the story forward / make something happen, you may, in effect, end up denying the reality of the physicality, point of view, and / or emotion, which therefore destroys your scene – or doesn’t allow you to create a decent scene in the first place.)

+++

Our final set of exercises involved sets of 2 person scenes.

Each person takes a strong character (think: strong point of view, strong physicality, strong emotion), and allows it to develop.
Playing several scenes, we play with different partners, the characters staying the same.

Then we play various scenes as other people’s characters.

Then we play our own character, opposite someone who played our character (playing as us)
The scenes from this were very interesting and fascinating to watch.

It is easier to impersonate someone who’d made a strong choice.

This exercise holds a mirror up to you, helps you discover more and more about your own character, increases the clarity and the specificity.

Someone copying someone else’s character is a massive “yes, and”, it is delicious to watch someone copying you.
It is also great practice to try on someone else’s character…

+++

Remember, creating a clear point of view helps the other person make their own point of view. Looking after yourself looks after your scene partner.

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