Saturday, December 29, 2012

Deconstruction Show #2

Now, I'm a week back and I've gotta get to this bloody blog. But, I really wanted to go into tonight's festivities.

Our Deconstruction Show.

I love Alex Marino's warmup. We kind of combine as many warmups as possible and it's so much fun. From going to pass the face, to knife throws, to random stuff.

Alex gave a great insight before we started the show. He saw us doing a lot of talking last show, and less getting into the action. He said try and do this scene two-ten lines in.

This is an interesting notion to wrap your head around. As an improviser, you want to initiate with information. The more the better. That's why in group games people are likely to be like, "Okay (insert group of people) we are going to (insert activity)". But if you think about it, to just trust that something fun will happen.  You may surprise yourself.

For example:
A: Okay Walmart Employees we are going to figure out who stole the money.

B) I didn't steal it.  Jack looks suspicious

C) I see Jack got a new bicycle

D) Jacks happier than all of us for some reason.

JACK) I bought a bike what the fuck!

Okay example and kind of textbook.  But, imagine starting a group game with B/C/D or EVEN JACK.  The possibilities are really interesting.
B) I didn't steal it.  Jack looks suspicious
C) Look at his shifty eyes.
D) He's wearing a striped shirt

C) I see Jack got a new bicycle
B) I see Jack got a new haircut
D) I see Jack got a girlfriend.
JACK)  You never seen a happy person before!

Trying to wrap my head around Marino's instruction I find that it just takes balls and trust. You have to have the balls to make that move that leaves stuff in the air and trust it.

In the Deconstruction show, I was able to be on both teams. The first show, admittedly I slow played it. The source scene (first scene) seemed about something else for awhile. It was called out as a first date. At that point I was kind of in my head. I feel like I need the momentum of that first big character or move to ride it all the way, if I hang back in the silence, I fade. I had a pretty good scene with a great partner and I found myself making semi-fun choices but it was more just not messing up the scenes. Sometimes, in my funks, I will just do what is needed. Luckily, with Deconstruction, the class is so talented, I don't feel pressure to get out there and fire on all cylinders, which is amazing. So, at least I'm not stressing. I played a kid being taking around by the Janitor to explore places in the school. With those concept oriented initiations, I just kind of ride the genre and drop gifts where I can. I feel like the world is the initiator, don't wanna jump into the idea until I know what it is.

In conclusion, for show one, I could have done more but I felt great about what I did. Added music love and good decisions. Maybe in the back of my mind, I knew I was going to be on both teams and that kind of pushed me into a better not go crazy state of mind. Politeness in improv. I have been taught that there is no room for it.

The next show, I jumped in on the source scene. It's a big shot because your scene has to be a foundation of sorts for ideas. It can't really be about some place or something outside of the people. Well, it definitely could be, anything could happen, but it's a safe bet to go relationship. The suggestion was cupcake. I went out with my partner and I sat down and I just looked at him and squinted angrily. I just sat in it. It was all my partner talking for about 30 seconds. But, it was obvious how I felt at him, then when I finally spoke it was very articulate English and the fact that he called me out as a 5 year old I just pitched it up.  It was fun.

Quick note to self: Just come out with a feeling of something for the other person and just project it.Anger has been my go-to, I'm probably a very dark person. Actually, I am a dark person, so be it. But, the communication of that before you say anything makes a huge promise to the audience. "This guys is mad", "This guy is sad" "This guy is horny".... If you say anything that just encompasses you  with an added statement that fits into the situation then it's an instant laugh.

The next two source scenes were very much inspired by scenes before them. That's the beauty of deconstruction, you have one source scene, two themes, second source inspired by them, three flavor scenes, third source inspired by prev, and run. I feel like you honor the form by making that initiation be a straight cue somehow from the scenes before. I find it much easier to initiate those. Those aha moments come to me then more than later.

With the run portion, I jumped into as many scenes as possible. As I do this more, I feel like I'm just waiting to pounce. Listening for that cue to jump in and just run it. I feel like I'm getting something finally. But, it definitely requires that momentum that I set earlier.

I've found that at the very least, I'm that improv actor that will make the noises, do the music, be the waiter, the walk on dude, and do good edits. At my best, I can really just have an amazing fucking time playing characters, tag in and out of scenes, start runs, tie stories together, and love every minute.  Honestly, I want to be at my best all the time, but I don't want to control anything.

My goal: to take every scene as an adventure of fun. Don't have any preconceived anythings. Just jump in and be surprised at what multiple minds can accomplish.  The more I do this, and I've been doing this a lot lately, the more I love it.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Deconstruction Last Class

In our Last deconstruction class, we pretty much ran the form itself. Deconstruction is a very fun form because it has a section after the 2nd beat where you can make a run just based off of an idea from the source scene. I find that you rarely get to do runs in Harolds. It's really only possible if you make it to the 3rd beats.

I've been experimenting with just sounds and matching myself til it forms into a character. I did a series of scenes as a vampire, I used kind of a stance and accent that would make a vampire, but it was general. She didn't get it at all, but she is such a cool improviser because as opposed to calling it out, she'll just kind of sit in the confusion for a little and let me kind of clue her in. That kind of comfort begets fun scenes. I remember seeing lots of scene where one person is NOT on the same page as the others and since nothing gets called out, the game is how confused this person is. It can be a real crowd pleaser. I initiated that scene with "Draco, we don't connect like we used to". Her confusion just kind of fueled it. She would try and match my moves and I would take it as she was making fun of me. It was short and fun.

I did an odd scene that was amazingly fun. I played passive aggressive nice. Passive aggressive usually never works. But, my partner initiated with "I have mono and I have to take a few days off".  I had already given a suspicious squint, so I hold it, let it inform my decisions as opposed to thought. I say, "You been kissing people, have you?" , denial, "You haven't been kissing Janet from accounting".

My partner goes, "I wouldn't do that to you Dan?". I felt at this point we had something. In my mind, I know exactly that he's doing Janet. I don't want him to confess, so if I do it in a sarcastic rather than angry manner it kind of comes off as more interesting. Because it's not a fight, it's like a sarcastic need for the truth. I also set up that me and Glenn would be in the back of my Cutlass talking about how Janet was the one.

Funny thing, I used to have a cutlass ciera in high school, there were plenty of conversations about girls in the back of that cutlass. Use what you know I guess.

At some point during a lie, I yelled, "Glenn?!" looked around "Glenn? Thought you were my friend?"
"I'm still you're friend Dan!"
"I'm looking around my office don't see any friends"

Glenn, the word and the way I said it, got some laughs. Maybe I could hold it in my pocket for a heightened scene.

The character of Glenn and Dan ended up being called back a lot in the Deconstruction. It was great. Every scene was kind of a "I know what you did" but trying to prod. I could say things that made me feel worse and Dan could do things to make me feel worse. The game was kind of how frustrated could Dan be at Glenn without Glenn ever confessing to anything. Coincidence laying on coincidence.

Revelations and Notes

When I walk out and feel out a scene, (non initating), I commit to the first feeling toward another person. Just let that inform the lines. It'll be gradual but as long as you stick to your guns you wont break audience promises.

If I initate with a character, I also have to really want something. There's a lot of pressure on the initiator. I find that for long scenes I rarely initiate because I find that the more I think it's a good idea the less organic it is, hence it will never pay off in my mind. I initiate lots of 2nd and 3rd beats because they don't have to be grounded and are just added bits and pieces.

I really love my deconstruction class. There is a lot of talent there and as I find myself working with better improvisers, I find that it's okay to stick back, just feel it out. As long as the show is cool, I'm fine with not doing very much. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

12-17-2012 Adorable!! and Ashley Ward

I have a practice with ADORABLE!! the pit musical house team who hosts pitch.

Today's rehearsal was pretty special for me because it was the first time I was going to be able to work with Ashley Ward. I've seen her around the pit and I've heard amazing things so I really wanted to see what it was like to work with her.

The rehearsal was basically doing opening numbers and sets. Adorable! has never done a set. So, we were a little hesitant but pumped to do it.

As a musical improviser, I find I have defensive mechanisms. There is a hesitancy there and I have to get rid of it. I usually play agressive but here I kind of maneuvred a kind of background support style. Which was fun and great but I need to change that.

The first set, opening number was orphans on a balloon. The next initiation put it into a flashback kind of form. Ash said we could have just stayed on the balloon and it would be what she calls a lifeboat form. Technically a monoscene but if you leave that location, it's more or less permanent. It was a story of how these orphans were treated badly by a woman who owned a hot air balloon.  I was a sheriff who helped the mother of an orphan who was in the house. As a sheriff, I wanted to have a balloon ride across the world.

Here's my opinion on this set. It was great fun and I had a good time. But, there was a lot on the plate. I find that when the settings and the circumstances go pretty crazy within the first scenes. Then the whole show just thematically runs that gauntlet. You really can't go from crazy to realistic. You just keep going crazier. I personally, had a part in that. Why would a sheriff want a hot air balloon ride? I also played a ghost who was murdered. Entertaining, absolutely. There is something about those first scenes that trigger the show. I will jump on the crazy train quick, because it has to be ridden not stopped. I just hope those decisions are made because "That would be fun" as opposed to "That would be funny".

The second set, opening number was a jail where convicts enjoyed their life. Then the mayor decided to let all prisoners go.  Same kind of crazy thing.  There's two ways to take the convicts enjoying their life. A) Prison in this world is fun and amazing B) These prisoners only perceive prison as being fun and amazing. Which is funner, who knows? Both could be amazing. But, option A sets up a world for the mayor to make that decision. Option B that probably wouldn't happen.

The last set, was a "Sell your Soul" song opening about people selling food and kind of annoying people. I kind of found the "Sell Your Soul" line to kind of negate the lines before. I had initiated the fact that we were all just lower class and had families to feed. So, the theme of "Sell your Soul"  had to be justified in some way. When I think soul, I think devil, but my mind kind of goes into "Too Obvious" land so I'm less likely to initiate that. Second scene was a girl and guy. Guy is poor. Girl accepts him for who he is but the Guy is still feeling sorry for himself. That was kind of a perfect protag scene because in my mind, I know that either the Guy is going to be rich and the girl will break up with him, or in an attempt to get rich he loses the girl, or something along those lines. Definite trope. The next scene was how Vogue created a quiz to get women to want more toys and find value in things. Great scene and song. I thought it was kind of a charm scene, because they are putting something into the world, the story is of the couple. I thought it could have been great for the girl to make the decision during the song, because Scene 4 (the bitch of all musical improv sets) would be her breaking up with him. Or better yet him reading it and then breaking up with her. Million possibilities hindsight is 20/20. I literallly hardly played a thing in this.

I need to buck up my aggression. I love this team. I need to contribute more to the sets. I think that there might have been hesitancy because I think in a few scenes the song had been about something other than the relationship. That kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth. If you do a song about a Portal over there, or Playing Guitar, or I hate canada, it really doesn't feel that great.

Ashley was a great coach. Very clear and concise and this was the most we've played together and we really needed that because we got a bloody show coming up!!!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Improv Weekend Part 2 Two Prov With Abbie (Louis Kornfeld Coaches)

First off this is going to be the first of many twoprov sessions with Abbie Harper. I met her in Musical Improv One at the PIT taught by Desiree Nash and every scene I ever did with her was just fun. I record almost every class ESPECIALLY musical improv and I keep coming back to the scenes with Abbie. Once I heard she didn't get into the PIT musical teams, I realized I wanted to be on a twoprov team with her. We've had long conversations about making improv more real, being okay with dramatic. Not forcing it, just being okay with it. We both come from theatrical backgrounds and are actors at heart. Anyway, today was our third improv practice.

Our teacher is Louis Kornfeld. If you ever watch Boss on Thursday nights, he is amazing. Boss itself is amazing. It's the truest slow prov and the payoff is huge. I took a class with him in the intensive and it was one of those blow my mind moments. I feel like I understand just about everything he says. He is my personal yoda for improv.

Anyways, we start the improv and Louis has one of us take a stance and then the other person touches that person then let the scene start. At first we kind of felt good, because Abbie and I are comfortable with each other but the scenes weren't as amazing as they used to be. Louis noticed that our touching of the other person was more polite. The hand on back. The pointing. The patting of back. Very polite, showing of respect. He basically said here look at this, he comes up to me in my posture and just hugs me at my torso and looks up. Already, there's a scene. No words.

After that we were on a roll, from a kid holding Santa hostage, to an older lady seducing an awkward guy at a wedding.

Next was a kind of inner monologue practice. One person just does a physical thing, the other person just talks about how they feel about them and then heightens it. This was a little tough for me personally. I felt kind of inventy.

For example, someone is eating cake. "You are such a good father. You provide for me and Jake. You give us everything we need and want. You put food on the table.You need to get a wife. Any woman would be happy to have you. My teacher would be a great fit for you. Especially, Mrs Ralston. I can imagine you and Mrs. Ralston taking me and Jake to the Aquarium, she'll tell us  the history while you crack jokes. You're such a joker. I try to tell your jokes all the time but the never come out right. I can't make jokes. Why can't I be like you? I try, that must be mom's genes"

It's weird but it's fun. It could definitely be a show thing. The next thing we did, i think, was a set. This was the first set Abbie and I ever did as two prov. It was a combination of a Hairstylist/client, Neighbors, and oddly enough a guy coming onto a girl at her grandfathers funeral.  Louis stopped us because I tried to deny that I was coming on to her. There are more possibilities in just confessing what you are doing. It's kind of cooler that way. The possibilities are endless.

Did you just pee in my garden? Yup. I was tired of waiting for the guest bathroom.
Did you have sex with my sister? I'll be honest. Yes, I was just tired of her making fun of our relationship.
Did you just kill that guy? I did it.  It was him or me and I wasn't going to miss the Hobbit.
Did you just eat glass? Yup. I do everything hardcore.

It's so common in improv to kind of write the polite thing. People may think it's funny to be like, "Naw.... I would never" wink wink. But, to say yes. Is so much more fun.

To the same accord, Abbie being repulsed by the guy coming on to her was feeling oddly flattered after the honest. Louis said it works the same there. The first reaction is "Ofcourse this is inappropriate". But gradually, just grow the "Mmmaybe". So she kind of comes around a little.

I'll be posting clips from this twoprov later. I'm really proud of it and we are gonna get this ball rollin in the new year.

An Improv Weekend Part 1 Alvarez

First the weekend started with a rehearsal with Alvarez, my Magnet Circuit team. As I said in the last blog, as long as we have fun and just go crazy and make huge decisions we have a great time.

I remember one scene which Ben Jones gave us Bad Initiations that were written out. My initiation was, "I was supposed to meet Jerry here. But, I don't know who you are!" Lisa was my partner. I think my initial thought was "This is gonna get inventy" solely because it has to. Being a bad initiation means just that. I initiated and Lisa brought up the scenario that we were both meeting Jerry as okcupid dates. At that point I kind of started a bit of a fight, Lisa tried to make it like we may go out on a date instead. At some point, I just chimed in with the bad initiation. Oddly enough, I found myself at any point where we were possibly going to move forward, I insisted on doing the initiation again. Though in theory it's against the improv because the scene didn't really move, I feel that I am holding on to that weird initiation that was given. In a way, it was the game. Why not make it the chorus of the scene.

As for sets, as a group we went kind of off the deep end in an amazing way. I remember the first set being about oranges and the desert forests of Canada. Ian and Steven did a scene where they were lost in the desert/forest of Canada where they had just got the guinness record for running bare foot. I remember pushing the outside sounds, Bill turned it kind of chanty / indian style. I shot a dart into Ian's neck. The second beat was kind of a surrounded by savages thing and I just decided to make it disney and turn into pocahontas and start quoting songs. The second set had popes, dragons, and R-kelly. Ian did an amazing initiation as pope going up to his balcony saying, "As pope, I will defend you against the dragons", I kind of pulled him back and  said, "May not wanna do that". Eventually the dragons came and I was sent on a quest to destroy a ring. There was also a great group game where Joy ran out and started decorating a tree. For a good 3 seconds no one came it, it was group game time. I had a like a feeling that it was so funny that she was talking to herself alone decorating a tree and I kind of started narrating as if it was a Christmas story. Lisa started humming a christmas tune and the story began. It was GREAT fun. I love my team. Alvarez is awesome.

Louis Kornfeld said something during a two prov coaching, he said, "When you go into a scene, it's as simple as being a character that wants to be there. Just fucking wanting to be there. That's all it needs".  I feel like as an improviser, if you have a bad show or a bad feeling and you kind of judge anything, you're not having fun. You don't want to be there. And it shows. You have to want to be there.  Take that to improv level. You are a character that wanted to be there and interact for some reason.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

12-15-2012 Alvarez Circuit Show

Team Alvarez consists of a great group of improvisers. Steve Ling, Lisa Flanagan, Larisa Treyster, Ian Gray,  Joy Passey and Bill Dobson.  Our coach is Ben Jones. Today we had practice.

I was running late. I woke up at 2pm. Probably because I spent most of last night having drinks with Lisa and Ben. Alvarez had a show last night. The last show of the Magnet Circuit.

Personally, I had a great time. I feel fearless and fun with this team. They are supportive as all hell.

I try and record every show I do so I can analyze it later. Figure out how it went. Critique myself. Here's the audio for last nights show. 12-15-2012

Alvarez Third Show

First scene. Bill initiated kind of an artist to model kind of thing. His mannerisms were like a foreign artist. On a whim, I started making a beat, kind of like a euro techno beat.  Why? I felt like it cemented Bill's character that he would have a runway or runway music in his small alterations place.

Second scene. I came out behind Lisa and Ian came out as well.  This could have been a problem. Ben had told us that we shouldn't do any walk ons in first beat. But,  to me, it wasn't a walk on. We all just walked out at the same time. I always hate that tendency to jump back and be "I'm sorry". I just laxed near the door and listened. I was going to be in the scene but I wasn't sure when but I would listen and react without words until the time was right. Lisa and Ian initiated a museum where they showed dinosaurs eating pineapples and there were cave drawings. Lisa called it out as being an absurd exhibit of sorts but it was not realistic. That's when I figured I should be the curator or some authority figure to defend the exhibit. Angrily ofcourse, because it was my go-to that night. lol. Lisa explains her point of view, and I decided to justify it as within the caves of Tiawakka there is a time-rift that dinosaurs used. But, I didn't use it as a blame, it was more of a bait. Like, "I s'pose you don't wanna know about the time rift", plus I added in the fact that I may be just using it as a ploy to get people to be members. It was great. I had a good time. Plus, I feel like what was a scene in a museum could 2nd beat into indiana jones or dinosaurs. Why not!!! I love that stuff!

Third scene. Steve initiated a table and a cup and stirred it and sniffed. I just kind of wandered in and intensely looked at him. He motioned for me to smell, I shook my head in a no. He said something along the line of, "It's hard, making the perfect perfume".  At that point, my mind made a decision. I'd usually just match the energy into a defeated  (awww man) but instead I said, go big. Angry and Steve matched. Oddly enough, we weren't fighting each other we were just yelling about the situation. It didn't really get that inventy either. I was really proud of it.

Group Scene.
We just did a kind of physical assembly line scene that turned into robots killing people. Initially, I thought was just SO weird that I didn't want to have to explain it. Something comes out and someone snaps it, looks at it, stamps it, throws it, and laughs. It got laughs as is. But, we added a malfunction and murder as icing on the cake.

2nd Beats.
Bill now worked with Lisa who just had her wedding done and screwed up by the weird tailor. I added techno where I could. Joy initiated as someone who wanted more info on the cave, I basically challenged her as to how far she was willing to go. Bill initiated a scene with me and Steve as a lender who wanted to know how the perfume was going. I basically angrily strong arm him to give us more money.  Group scene, I initiated robots. Admittedly, I don't know why, I was maybe trying to get lots of robots in a group game, but I always find when I initiate those IDEA initiations, they never turn out so well. But, Joy supported and it was a fun robot game.

3rd Beat:
Lisa initated as if they were in the Amazon at the cave of Tiawakka and it was a failure. She was dragging Ian. I tossed in my body kind of like body in Raiders of the lost Ark with the head with the arrow in it. Joy tossed in that there was a security breach and we were in the Museum. I thought of it as kind of weird. Steve yes anded Joy and was a security guard. At this point, I'm thinking justify. So, I kind of broke off and explained to the audience that through the time rift they are both in the museum and in the cave in Tiawakka and Steve kind of implied that it was an elaborate trick to get another exhibit. Oddly enough, I thought it kind of worked.

Conclusion: I had a great time. Alvarez represents freedom to me. I can add little things or jump in and I will be supported. Everyone has a good time. There is a strong tendency to match as opposed to fight. That is SO HUGE here. I love my team and my coach Ben Jones. He wants us to have fun. So, we DO!

When I Drank the Kool Aid

I moved to NYC in February. Somewhere along the way I met up with one of my best friends Giana DeGeiso. She's an amazing talent. She told me she was going to take a class with Charlie, whom I knew through Giana. I literally didn't know very many people at all in NYC, so I decided to take the class.

The class was Musical Improv 101 with Micheal Martin at Magnet Theatre. I believe it started in April because the show was in early June.

I literally had NO idea what it was, I just signed up for it.  I thought to myself, I better know what the hell I'm getting into so I go to my first Musical Megawatt at the Magnet. It's a Tuesday night of multiple house team shows. That night I'm pretty sure I saw Mint Condition and Bees!!!. I was literally floored, hadn't laughed that much in my life. Musical improv seemed like pure joy. I went to the mixer but I didn't perform (mixers are where people from the audience can perform with team members).

I remember thinking, this is crazy fun, but I still didn't want to make a fool of myself. So, I started taking 10k  practice sessions and PIT drop ins. These are available to all  levels. And I just jumped head first, so that I could at least not be totally green.

The next week, it was another Megawatt. It was Bees!! and I think Rosencrantz. But, BEES!! were hosting the mixer. I remember signing up thinking to myself, this is crazy. My heart ran. I called up Jim Nieb, a fellow pirate on the Peter Pan Tour I did ages ago. He's an improv teacher in LA and he told me I'd be good at improv, and I just kept saying "Ehhhh, I don't think so. I'm not funny". I left a message on his machine I think before I went in.

The scene was fun. I think it was about a Hot dog vendor and his son. It wasn't amazing but I did it!! Suffice to say, every mixer I go to, I perform at.

Here we are today. December 16th. Since that March/April show, I've finished the Magnet Musical Improv Levels 1-3 (all with Michael Martin), I've finished PITS Musical Improv Levels 1-2 (all with Desiree Nash (also on BEES!!)), I'm currently starting shows in Magnets Level 4: Deconstruction class with Alex Marino, I'm midway through Level 2 at the Pit with Kevin Cragg. That's training wise.

As far as performing wise, I'm on the PIT Musical House Team ADORABLE!. I'm on the 10k team "Decent Proposal". I'm on the indie team, "Maybe Monogamous". I've started a two prov team with Abbie Harper. I've also finished the third show of the Circuit with Team Alvarez.

9 Months. My goal in my heart has always been to be in that Musical Megawatt. That first show that I'd seen in NYC. In January, I'll audition. Beyond that, I want to try and be on an Improv House Team for the PIT and the Magnet. But, that'll take a few more classes.