The Harold

Discussion of the art and craft of improvisation.

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Postby bradisntclever » September 21st, 2010, 5:28 pm

Jastroch wrote:
Spots wrote: I haven't seen enough of it to judge. But it's fun to think it's sitting right there in my tool bag.


There are enough of us on the boards. I just don't think anyone wants to bother, as in the past discussion of the merits of the Harold and it's underlying principles have ignited some serious flame wars.


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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » September 21st, 2010, 6:09 pm

Jastroch wrote:
Spots wrote: I haven't seen enough of it to judge. But it's fun to think it's sitting right there in my tool bag.


There are enough of us on the boards. I just don't think anyone wants to bother, as in the past discussion of the merits of the Harold and it's underlying principles have ignited some serious flame wars.


so...you're saying there are some serious flamers on these boards?
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Postby Jon Bolden » September 22nd, 2010, 12:29 am

Does any theater, group,etc... in Austin do a workshop or course teaching The Harold without starting from level one?
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Postby Pdyx » September 22nd, 2010, 10:19 am

I feel like The Institution has in the past. Not sure if they currently are.
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Postby kbadr » September 22nd, 2010, 11:52 am

But then, once it's comfortable and second nature and all that, you can let it go. And even more beautifully, you can make a show become whatever it wants to be...


I actually don't understand this, with regards to The Harold. That's always sounded like "improv" to me. Why the need to call it The Harold? Are there actually people who do insist on calling that a Harold, or is that some kind of misconception?

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Postby ratliff » September 22nd, 2010, 12:42 pm

kbadr wrote:
But then, once it's comfortable and second nature and all that, you can let it go. And even more beautifully, you can make a show become whatever it wants to be...


I actually don't understand this, with regards to The Harold. That's always sounded like "improv" to me. Why the need to call it The Harold? Are there actually people who do insist on calling that a Harold, or is that some kind of misconception?


All I can tell you is that if you watch a bunch of Harolds by different groups at iO you become aware that the best of them share a common sensibility ... whether because they trained on the literal version or because they all trained with the same people, I don't know. And maybe UCB Harolds feel completely different. But even the loosest Harolds I've seen feel very different than just a montage with callbacks.

None of my teachers emphasized the format so much as they did absolute commitment and support and surrender to the group mind. I don't think it's any coincidence that the elements of the Harold that are the most despised (group games, organic work, the Invocation) are those that depend on the complete, humble dedication of everyone in the group. People think organic work is stupid, so they don't commit, so it sucks, so the audience hates it, so people think organic work is stupid ... rinse and repeat.

I love the format, but I think the secret truth of the Harold is that there is a whole level of work that can only be achieved by everyone committing fully to it before they have any idea what it is or if it's going to be any good. This is why most of us fall short in performing the Harold. It's not because we didn't call back the second beat in the right slot.

Mike, if you want to assign labels to the different parts of the Reckoning's Monday show, I would call all the business with the chairs a group game.
Last edited by ratliff on September 22nd, 2010, 3:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Jastroch » September 22nd, 2010, 12:51 pm

kbadr wrote:I actually don't understand this, with regards to The Harold. That's always sounded like "improv" to me. Why the need to call it The Harold? Are there actually people who do insist on calling that a Harold, or is that some kind of misconception?


It is just improv, but it is a different approach and sensibility than, say, a narrative or a genre parody.
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Postby Sully » September 22nd, 2010, 2:23 pm

SCHWING!!!
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Postby scook » September 25th, 2010, 4:31 pm

ratliff wrote:the secret truth of the Harold is that there is a whole level of work that can only be achieved by everyone committing fully to it before they have any idea what it is or if it's going to be any good. This is why most of us fall short in performing the Harold. It's not because we didn't call back the second beat in the right slot.

This. "Group mind" is just support, it's not something ethereal. Just support everything and that group mind will come. You're all on the same page because you see everything that's happening and support it. Boom.

Also, what Roy said.

To me, it's more a philosophy of play. Support support support and the point of the show is that the group owns it and created it together.

Also, callbacks can be more thematic, rather than a second beat with the same characters. And you don't need to do them in order. A lot of what the Harold team I'm on tries to do is just use other peoples' information and shit. So if that means a fun character, do it. It could be a style of a scene ('50s sitcom or something). It could be a location. It could be a word. Anything, it's all connected because you took it from the show. You saw something awesome your teammate did and you used it. That's pretty sweet.

Once you hit the second beats (or hit the halfway-ish point of your show, whatever) nothing you do is invention. It's all something you got from the first half of the show. And like I said, it could be something as small as a word. Using information the team created to build your show from the ground up.

The point of the games (as I see them, and people all have different opinions on it) is to have the team come together and build something on stage at the same time based on what information has come from the show and then bring in more information (also from the beginning of the show) and move the show in a certain direction together at the same time.

Did that sentence make sense? Did I say "same time" enough? It's not as technical as it sounds. It just goes back to support.

There's no way to do it wrong unless you're worried about doing it "right." You play what the show is, not what you think it should be. The show ends when the show is over, not when the "format" tells you it's over.

I have a very liberal view on the Harold.
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Postby ratliff » September 25th, 2010, 5:24 pm

scook wrote:I have a very liberal view on the Harold.


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Postby scook » September 25th, 2010, 7:06 pm

kbadr wrote:That's always sounded like "improv" to me. Why the need to call it The Harold? Are there actually people who do insist on calling that a Harold, or is that some kind of misconception?

All types of improv when you boil them down are just improv, similar good mechanics and all that.

One of the main ideals (not always achieved, probably less often than not) of the Harold is that it's a group piece that is organically built and has a voice of its own and a point of view. The rub is that you can't (shouldn't) actually think about any of that while you're doing it...so we end up explaining it in terms of mechanics (group support, etc.). So that's the main difference between it and other "forms" (or philosophies, styles, or whatever).

I play differently in a Harold show than I do in a monoscene or a montage or an Armando or whatever. It's a different mindset of what the show is trying to achieve...uh, as arty as that sounds.
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Postby scook » September 25th, 2010, 7:06 pm

ratliff wrote:
scook wrote:I have a very liberal view on the Harold.


Just another Chicago socialist.

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Postby Spots » September 25th, 2010, 7:27 pm

I think you were born of improv. In college I hardly ever heard a peep. :)
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Postby valetoile » September 26th, 2010, 2:10 pm

I feel like I've gained a lot of understanding about the Harold form this thread. I think that also speaks to how much our community has grown since previous discussions about it.

I always like everything Stephanie has to say.
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Postby PyroDan » September 26th, 2010, 8:09 pm

.[/quote]
This. "Group mind" is just support, it's not something ethereal. Just support everything and that group mind will come. You're all on the same page because you see everything that's happening and support it. Boom.[/quote]


I understand what your saying here, but I think it really starts with support and then can become ethereal. I have seen groups that work well with each other, and I have seen groups that are brilliant, and there is something more than just support within.
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