Khaos

Archive for the 'Improv' Category

Start of Year

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

I started the year by going to the theatre and by attending a 5 day musical theatre improv course.

I got to see Hamilton, The Ferryman, and The Play That Goes Wrong.  All three shows were incredibly good, though very different.  Hamilton lived up to the hype and I would go and see it again tomorrow. It was visually stunning.  I had heard a lot about the score, and nothing about the scenic design, lighting, and choreography, all of which were beautiful. I loved the ensemble and think they should feature more in the reviews.  Whilst the actor playing Hamilton was great it’s easier to stand out and shine when you are constantly being supported by an amazing ensemble.

I was a little concerned about going to see The Ferryman as anything set in Northern Ireland can be difficult for me to watch. Jez Butterworth’s play dealt with issues that happened in my life time, and though at times it did head towards Irish family caricature territory it worked well.  I was not expecting to see a baby and a goose on the stage and was surprised by how much they pull focus.  We are certainly fascinated by the things on a stage that appear true and real.

The Play That Goes Wrong was funny from the moment we sat in the theatre.  It has some great set falling down effects, which would make it difficult to put on a version of the show, but the things that made me laugh the most were the things that are easier to reproduce.  It’s incredibly funny watching actors stand on the hand of another actor who is supposed to be playing a dead man and seeing him try not to react to the pain. (I imagine it’s a fake hand, but that doesn’t take away from the humour.) I also enjoyed the fake fighting, probably because I had spent the morning before the show in a slapstick workshop learning how to do things like looking as if you are smashing a persons head off the table.

The Showstoppers improv course I attended was excellent.  I got to work with great teachers and generous improvisers.  It wasn’t easy, as I’m still not comfortable with improv, but I’m glad that I went and would study with them again.

It was a good start to another year that I hope will be dominated by theatre and by being creative.

 

Sketch Writing Workshop

Friday, September 1st, 2017

Last night I attended a 3 hour sketch writing workshop,  run by DUVAL, an improv and sketch comedy duo made up of Bex Marsh and Eddie Mujica. It’s been a long time since I have written a sketch, but I am interested in using improv to improve my writing.  We started the workshop with some simple “yes, and…” improv games to get us used to agreeing with suggestions and extending them.  It’s incredibly easy to have self-doubt when writing and to spend so much time editing yourself that nothing ever gets written.  Using these exercises we just went with whatever idea we came up with and saw how far we could run with it.

We spent time discussing sources for ideas, identifying the premise and game of a scene, and ways in which to heighten the game.  We also discussed pitfalls such as not being able to start, cliches, low-hanging fruit, and imitating others.

I’m glad I was able to attend.  I have so many evening and weekends rehearsals that it’s become difficult for me to attend workshops.  I’m enjoying my rehearsals, but it’s nice to get the chance to do something a little different.

 

More Musical Improv

Monday, January 30th, 2017

Yesterday, I attended a workshop taught by Keng-Sam Chane Chick Té.  We worked on creating scenes, with a musician, that were entirely physical, using no speech.  I found this quite difficult but I did enjoy how it helped to create connections between the players.  It requires a lot of concentration on the other players if you need to work out what sort of scene you are creating together if you can’t talk about it.  The incidental music that the pianist played also helped us find the emotional context of the scenes.  It was quite different than the other musical improv that I have done, as I was not creating music.  Some of it did end up like dance, and at one point I managed to bruise myself by colliding with another player I was performing with.

I started attended improv classes in the hope that it would improve my acting.  Now I’m starting to attend them as I’m enjoying improv as an art form.

Musical Theatre Improvisation

Monday, January 16th, 2017

I decided to start my 2017 with a 5 day intensive training course.  I had seen a couple of improvised musicals created on stage in Tokyo by Tokyo Comedy Store, and I was curious about the skills needed to do this.  When I saw that Showstoppers, who are an award winning improv group, were teaching these skills in London I was really keen to go and try it.

This was a step-up in complexity compared to the improv classes I normally attend.  We did create the plot, characters, dialogues, and scenes in the moment, but we also added song and dance.  This course also involved long-form improv, which was new for me, as I have been learning short-form improv.

The goal of the course was to learn how to create a 30 minute musical on stage in front of an audience.  Learning how to create improvised songs with choreography involved lots of listening to the pianist and your fellow players.  When it works it looks like magic, when it doesn’t it can be very clumsy and awkward.  But by the end of the week we had gotten very good at listening to each other and also at being clear in what we planned to do next.

The highlights of the week were creating lovely duets, creating my first improvised solo song, and getting to play Alice in Wonderland in a 30 minute musical.

Improv Stories

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

We were playing a game that involves one person trying to tell a story, while their partner prompts them with random words that they have to incorporate into that story.  It was my first ever improv exercise and I was paired with the teacher.  He started his story and the first word I gave him was “rain”.  He skillfully told a story but after a while he stopped and said to me “you really should provide words quicker”.  I was puzzled as he had never used my word in the story and I was only supposed to provide a new word when the old one was used.  Turns out he thought I said “ring”.  I forget sometimes that my accent is uncommon and that in Northern Ireland “rain” could sound as if it has two syllables and not the one the rest of the world claims it has.

Improv Workshops

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

I have been attending weekly improv workshops, run by Tokyo Comedy Store, since I got back to Japan in August.  Improv is not something I find easy.  Performing, without preparation, can feel horrifying.  I do enjoy some of the games, and the people who attend are incredibly helpful and welcoming, but I think it’s going to take me a while to get used to the concept.