Another bouncy class with Kat. She will be in Germany for the next class, we’ve asked her to bring us back some pumping Europop!
The first game we played was to encourage our listening faculties. All the exercises we played today required particular listening skills – as does all of improv. In fact, the more I do these ComedySportz lessons, the more I realise how these short form games are so useful for one’s long form playing.
We all stand in different corners of the room with our eyes shut. Kat then touches one of us and that person is the assassin. When she says go, still with our eyes shut, we try to walk silently around the room and not get touched by the assassin. All steps must be proper steps (and Kat would warn us if we we getting to close to the edge so we didn’t walk into chairs)
Once everyone had been got except one, then both became the assassin, the first to touch the other becoming the winner.
Obviously everything is done by sound and if forces us to listen in a different way – extreme listening or “listening with stakes”. It takes listening to another level. And is great fun.
Then we moved onto another fun game –
2 people sitting in chairs (so that we are not distracted by having to do spacework or think too hard about usual improv stuff, just concentrate on the game as it is quite complicated to get one’s head around).
One makes a crazy, impossible initiation statement.
The other person answers, not with a “Yes, and”, but with a question – that accepts that the statement is true, whilst at the same time trying to understand it and what happened.
So, the statement “I’ve got 18 frogs living under my shoulder blade” might get the response “how did they get there?” “what does it feel like”.
The first person then responds by explaining in an believable way as possible.
The first person then asks another credulous question, trying to find out more about this incredible thing, based on this new information.
The key to these questions is that they must come from a position of believing your partner.
What we do not want is for the absurdity to spread. We don’t want any extra layers of absurdity, just logical answers based on the initial illogical premiss.
This is all about the listening, no object work, just listen.
Make the answers as specific as possible. Also, don’t get away from the initial premiss, make sure to keep bringing it back to it.
This is not necessarily funny and funny should not be aimed for. Answer seriously.
The answer is always yes, and you are always willing to share. Rather than “I don’t want to talk about it”, talk about it.
We take the above, but now the partner goes “yes, and”. Now the partner has a point of view – but this point of view is about your partner, not about the incredible initiation.
The first person must also listen carefully back to what their partner has said and respond to that opinion, within the world where this incredible premiss is taken as truth. How does it make you feel?
You can always go back to the original premiss.
The initiation is still the same, but now we try to map it onto a real life situation. What is the subtext of what we are saying through this ridiculous statement?
This is where, incorporated into life, this becomes a game.
What does it mean? Replacing what the ludicrous statement was with another thing, what is the map?
This is quite difficult to contrive and is most pleasurable when you happen upon it.
Kat quoted Nichols and May who said the source of their success was when they saw the end of their scene, it became a race towards that finish line.
For practice, Kat would freeze us and ask if we can see the map.
The map is the subject. The key is not to blow this up, which could happen very easily were someone to enter the scene and didn’t understand what we are trying to achieve.
We tried to develop this into our own game, but there was a little confusion in the class as different people seemed to understand different things, so we had another look at is the following lesson. I wonder if we might try the mapping identification after one or two more lines. Something for us to experiment with.
We then did a dubbing game. Here, two people in the centre of the stage are doing the actions and object work, two at the side are speaking for them (the pair in the middle move their mouths as if speaking)
The two in the middle have to listen hard to the side, and the two at the side must watch carefully.
Remember to still follow the rules of the scene, who, what, where, relationship and emotional stakes.
As above, but this time the people doing the dubbing are sat in chairs in front of the actors and cannot see what they are doing. Great fun.
3 people (initially 2 on stage, one off), each dubbing one of the others.
One of the keys to making this look good to the audience is that if you are talking, keep very still, if you are being dubbed, make big complementary movements.
Finally, we played this very self awaredly, so that everyone pimped everyone else and played with them, big moves.
As with everything, Commit at 100%!