In this class, after the warm up, we started off with doing a bunch of solo initiations.
The aim of these was to make physical, emotional and spatial choices, and to mix them up as much as possible, so that whenever Megan would say “switch”, the person on stage would make a new initiation, with a new physical choice, a new emotional choice, and in a new part of the stage.
This exercise forced us to come up with something interesting, to use the whole stage, and to push our own mental boundaries.
As Susan Messing says, we are only limited by our lack of imagination and our failure to commit.
Look for things to see to make your environment, then reach out and engage with what’s there.
How does it effect you emotionally?
From a coach’s perspective, this exercise shows up patterns, it is useful to see these to help show an improviser areas they might work on and expand their range.
Remember that you can make declarations in this exercise too. It can be powerful to declare your feelings off the top.
It is better to attack the scene than to have it attack you.
Choose a name for yourself.
The more that you inhabit your environment, the more that you make what is around you a real thing, and the more that you know who you are and what your point of view is, the easier it is to improvise, because from here all you need to do is react through the character that you are inhabiting.
Sometimes surprise yourself with the words that you let out. Groundlessness is great.
When you enter a scene, start.
It doesn’t need to be words, but start your thing, from your very first moment be making choices about yourself, your point of view.
I wrote in my book, always be starting a scene at the same time as your partner.
This might be a nice note to a newer improviser, but really you don’t want to wait for your partner.
You are your own pebble thrown into the pond. Start to make your own ripples.
By being a solid and definitive entity in the scene, you are gifting your partner with the knowledge of one more thing in front of them, making their life that bit easier.
Think of Rachael Mason’s 6 ways of becoming a character. When doing this exercise, try playing around with that.
As a solo practice exercise, make a list of different choices within the 6 character entry methods, then switch between them within this exercise.
With the solo initiations, if you want to be talking to someone there, either assume that someone will come out or they won’t.
It doesn’t matter either way, you don’t need to wait for that, so don’t let the lack of anyone there stop you. These are initiations, not solo scenes, and that are your own.
Were you to do it within a scene, either this person would be visible or they wouldn’t and it doesn’t matter either way.
You know who you are and you know who they are, and by talking to them, you have shown them to the audience.
Spacework is really useful in initiations. Practice at home picking up a variety of objects.
Make a list of objects that you might handle and read it before you go on stage for inspirations.
Variety, variety, variety.
Within the class we then did 1 person scenes as animals, followed by scenes as the characters of the animals as 2 person and then 3 person scenes.
Remember to still use objects.
The next exercise was 3 person monologues, with the aim to show off the physical and the emotional.
3 people stood, 1 behind the other.
The first person spoke, after a line or two, the next person became the front of the line and heightened the physical and emotional of the first person, followed by the final person.
Each built the physical and the emotional more, really developed this character’s point of view, build and heightened the character.
The key in this is to really observe the physical.
We then did a number of 2 person scenes with the last person to become and heighten the character. People would step into the scene as different characters, and the original character would play as that entity, channelling their reactions through this character’s perspective with all the new characters.