Steve, our teacher, asked me how I was. "Tired," I said.
"What'd you do last night?" he asked.
"One year old woke up at five in the morning."
"Ah. I had a 20-something wake me up at three with a party."
"Huh. How so?"
"Well, he was gone for a couple of days being the subject of a new drug."
"Oh. What kind?"
"I think it was a nicotine based drug meant to cure Alzheimer's."
- Counting to 15 - If you have been to drama camp in the summer, you know this one.
- The Circle Game - There was no real name for this. Steve said: "Get in a circle everyone. Alright. Now I want everyone to walk to your left. When I clap, go the opposite direction." This changed to those of us in the circle providing the claps and then having to change direction as a group with no cues.
- Emotions on a Scale - I think I described this exercise a couple of days ago.
More "three line scene" work. He encouraged us to have huge emotional reactions to the other character's lines. "The last line should be a big turning point for the scene in this exercise."
The three line scenes had new rules after this: scenes had to be exactly 30 seconds long but they could still only have three lines. Then they had to be exactly a minute long. Once again, work to try to bring emotions up.
Steve, on one occasion, would interject with this: "That was great, guys. One piece of advice, though, and that's..." He rubbed his eyes. "...I completely forgot what I was going to say. What the hell? Why am I talking? You guys are doing great. Let's keep going."
At one point he mumbled: "I am so drunk right now. Actually, I'm not drunk. I'm hungover...but I...I just feel like I'm hungover. God I'm tired."
We played a game whose name I cannot remember - let's call it "emotions". During this game, a scene took place and types of emotions were called out by a host. Everyone would have to adjust accordingly.
Next was a game called "pick up lines". Most of you know how this game goes, so I'm not going to bother explaining it. This game went very well.
Lunch, sketch class. We had a sub today. We improvised through more scene ideas - one that went particularly well was about a man in the gallows. The rest ranged from okay to awkward to watch.
We are halfway done with these classes. At this very time a week from now, our show will have been performed. It seems so far, I haven't learned much from improv in terms of "rules", however, I find Steve's emphasis on emotions to be something I could work on.
"I don't think that conflict, setting...none of that matters," he said. "What matters most is how your character reacts emotionally to what's around him. He's in a coffee shop. Great. How does he feel about being in a coffee shop? How does he feel about the people around him?"
A random piece of advice he threw out today: "If you're feeling stuck, get into a random, huge physical pose. Something will come. Think with your gut. Not your brain. I know that sounds cheesy, but...yeah, you know."
Something strange I'd like to bring up about sketch class: at The Second City, setches are often made via improvisation. You write an outline of events, bring it to a group, cast it, and run through it. And then you run through it again. And again. You take the parts you like from each run and make it into a sketch.
Often this finished sketch is not much like the original idea you presented. This is fascinating to me. I have a strange fascination with the creative process and what happens to an idea once it's been shared. And we know what can happen to an idea thanks to this digital culture: it can be easily shared, discussed, interpreted, re-done, remixed, or mashed-up with a completely unrelated work. I find that exciting.
The same sort of thing happens often with sketches. The group puts their own spin on it. This is more often than not great, but ocasionally, it can be a little frusterating if you feel your original idea was better (and if the group vetoes your idea and you aren't insanely passionate about it, it probably sucked in the first place). But that's a big thing about improv: you have to be completely willing to get the best idea and the world and go, "You know what? Screw that. My partner is doing something and I need to play along with that."