Level 2 with Susan Messing, 21 August

I’m back with the wonderful Susan Messing, this time at iO. We covered many of the same things she covered at Second City, but the emphasis was different and this is definitely a good class to be taking, download to the brain some more Messingisms.

“The more you do something, the more you discover” – so when doing something, observe what it is that you are doing. If you don’t know what it is, do it some more and you will find out what it is. What is there in front of you is your reality, so be aware of it, play with it, interpret it, let it exist.

Games make you pine for them. When you do something once, it is a mistake. Twice is a game, and the audience will will want to see it again, don’t forget it, bring it back.

We played Caligula – where we crawled over each other as we let our bodies go where they felt they should go. Get somewhere uncomfortable? live it, breathe it, feel it, fuck it – the more uncomfortable the better, don’t be looking for the next thing, the something better.

The learning point to this is don’t change your shit within a scene. Hold onto it. New information is a layer on top of the information already there, it doesn’t replace it. Which is why an emotion off the top is a great start and a great thing to keep.

When something happens, you can use this to interpret, invest in what you are doing. Every new piece of information adds to the piece, helps explain.

Repeating a name on stage helps you remember, helps them remember, helps the audience remember. How you say it informs you of other information, lets you know how you feel about them, and it helps them feel like the name that you’ve given them.

Everything is a cause for inspiration. Specificity kills ambiguity. Do it for you, once the environment is clear, all you need to do is react to it, you don’t need to invent anything. This also goes for spacework.

Susan interviewed a group of us after getting us to change our physicality, probing us as to who we were, what we were doing there. The first time you say something you may believe it, but the more you say it, the more certain you are of the new truth, it is easy to exist it.

Listen to what your partner says. Listen to what they say with their physicality says. Listen to what your own physicality says.

If there are several people doing the same thing, that tells you something. Your first 3 seconds are your promise to the scene, your promise to the audience. Look after your promise to the audience. Commit to it, they will notice, the more committed you are, the happier they will be, so keep the shit you start with.

Remember, what people tell you is not a denial of your reality, it is a layer on top of it. If you are happy and then you find out your dog just died, then now you know you are happy about it. It has informed you.

Think about how what you do makes you feel.

Listening means everything happens for a reason.

Keep pushing, keep taking risks, keep learning. Keep committing, keep being true to what you feel at 100% – so whaat if it is wrong, you don’t learn by doing things right, you learn by making mistakes, so make mistakes gloroiusly.

Do things that connect us. Copy the energy of others, copy the attitude of others. Be the same – it is more clever and interesting to watch if you are the same than if you are different. Rookie is to be different. Mature is to trust in being the same as your scene partner.


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