Have you ever cried while watching an improv scene?

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Postby kristin » March 30th, 2011, 11:53 pm

Alright, I'm starting a new troupe called Cryprov. Let me know if you want to audition.
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » March 31st, 2011, 9:00 am

kristin wrote:Alright, I'm starting a new troupe called Cryprov. Let me know if you want to audition.


i probably wouldn't get in.

and then i'd cry.

again.

:p
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Postby B. Tribe » April 1st, 2011, 11:18 am

Katherine wrote:...Has anyone teared up in their own scene?


Only in rehearsals. One was back in college with my short form group. We were doing a two person scene. I was a grumpy husband watching Jeopardy. I was complaining about the show. My wife (played by a dude) screeched at me about how I should show Alex Trebek respect. I don't know how it happened, but it turned out that Alex Trebek was our son. I was jealous of his success and angry with him for leaving us behind. We were screaming at each other. The scene was HILARIOUS but I got so upset at Alex that I started to cry. Granted, I was taking a bunch of Theatre classes at the time, so I was prone to crying in just about any situation.

The other time was during a Secret Senate rehearsal. The exercise was to do serious scenes. The situation I got was a son whose mother was telling him his father was dead. I chose to play a young child, around 6. Jessica tried to break it to me slowly. I figured it out before she actually said he died. I cried uncontrollably. I was totally taken over by the grief. It was one of the most intense experiences I've had as an actor.

Katherine wrote:Do you think it's an ok thing (professional thing?! / good improve thing?!) to do?


I think it depends on what kind of show you're doing. If a show is billed as comedy, then it's kind of a blindside to do a purely dramatic show. Even a scene where someone breaks down can make the audience uncomfortable. I wouldn't avoid it, I mean, it's improv, so what happens happens. Just know it could take the audience out of the show.

Katherine wrote:How do you keep it present but not let it overwhelm the scene?


It's when you're feeling a pure emotion that you're most present in the scene. As far as overwhelming the scene... I'm not sure. Large, sustained expressions of emotion almost always dominate the action. It's when those emotions get out of control that the most interesting, dangerous moments occur. Then the characters have to deal with the fallout.
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » April 1st, 2011, 11:26 am

B. Tribe wrote:
Katherine wrote:Do you think it's an ok thing (professional thing?! / good improve thing?!) to do?


I think it depends on what kind of show you're doing. If a show is billed as comedy, then it's kind of a blindside to do a purely dramatic show. Even a scene where someone breaks down can make the audience uncomfortable. I wouldn't avoid it, I mean, it's improv, so what happens happens. Just know it could take the audience out of the show.


i think you can totally still have dramatic/serious scenes or displays of emotion in a comedy. as long as it matches tonally and comes out organically, i think that would be kind of fantastic. i think it would be highly difficult, but i could definitely appreciate a moment like that.

then again, i suppose i'm different from most audiences. which is why i mostly think "fuck 'em." ;)
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Postby ejbrammer » April 1st, 2011, 1:42 pm

I don't think you should try to try to keep emotional scenes/crying out of a comedy show. Some of the best comedic work of stage, film and television includes some of the best and most intense emotional scenes. If you're being true to the moment, be true to the moment. I wouldn't censor myself to stay 'funny' because that's what the audience expected. Truthful human behavior is funny, and also funny because it is sad , and also sad because it is funny. This advice, however, comes from someone who doesn't think an audience's discomfort is necessarily a bad thing.
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Postby bradisntclever » April 1st, 2011, 4:32 pm

ejbrammer wrote:I don't think you should try to try to keep emotional scenes/crying out of a comedy show. Some of the best comedic work of stage, film and television includes some of the best and most intense emotional scenes.


Agreed (with the whole post, but this part is most relevant). The contrast between really dramatic scenes and really comedic scenes can act to help strengthen both types of scene.

I think there's some merit to the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility in improv. It's really hard to make an audience laugh from start to finish. A good, unplanned dramatic scene can create the kind of breaks needed to get everyone recharged and ready to laugh again. You've got to build that tension before you can release it.
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » April 1st, 2011, 5:03 pm

bradisntclever wrote:
ejbrammer wrote:I don't think you should try to try to keep emotional scenes/crying out of a comedy show. Some of the best comedic work of stage, film and television includes some of the best and most intense emotional scenes.


Agreed (with the whole post, but this part is most relevant). The contrast between really dramatic scenes and really comedic scenes can act to help strengthen both types of scene.

I think there's some merit to the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility in improv. It's really hard to make an audience laugh from start to finish. A good, unplanned dramatic scene can create the kind of breaks needed to get everyone recharged and ready to laugh again. You've got to build that tension before you can release it.


exactly. and you're going to laugh a lot deeper and heartier if you can empathize with and relate to the characters and what they're going through...
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Postby smerlin » April 2nd, 2011, 11:17 am

A couple of years ago, Get Up did a site specific show for Mi Casa Es Su Teatro in Frontera Fest. We did scenes from the lifecycle of a married couple all set in the kitchen at the Theater at the Ranch. The combo of the real kitchen, Sara's scoring, intimate seating, and some grounded acting had a really powerful effect. I talked to a few audience members had some tears after that show.
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Postby MitchellD » April 4th, 2011, 2:57 am

Halyn wrote:I cried in one of Lisa's scenes from Austin Secrets. It was the scene where she was a homeless woman and she recognized a friend from high school (Kaci). I was doing okay until I heard her voice quiver as she was denying money from Kaci, and then I just wept. The scene was very simple and honest, and I think that's what made it stand out so much for me personally.


Oh man, I was just talking about this scene to a friend of mine today. It was just so true and real. Definitely one that stands out in my mind.
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Postby Halyn » April 4th, 2011, 10:49 am

Troy and Jason's superhero scene from Maestro with audience volunteer, Reese.

Reese is the son of Jay's friend who came to see the show. Reese is autistic. Jay doesn't know what kind of autism Reese has, or his age, but his age is roughly around 11 I'd say.

The scene was set up so that Reese was Captain IQ, the main superhero, and Jason was his sidekick, SAT. Reese was very shy, and didn't speak or move hardly in the beginning parts of the scene, and that's when it became clear that he had some sort of disability. Jason took over, and created the entire world for him. He did it without making us uncomfortable, or Reese. Troy came on "screen" through the window as the president, and said that he was needed for a mission (there were some Billy Joel references, but I don't remember them really...). Jason asked if he wanted to go to the helicopter to fly off to the villain's lair, and Reese quietly agreed.

Whenever Reese would talk, the entire theatre would go silent. The audience (and Maestro players off to the side or in the audience) waited until his entire sentence was finished, and usually cheered whatever he said, as he only said about four sentences the entire scene. All he said was, "Yes, let's go" and the audience cheered him on.

Jason and Troy justified anything that might have been unclear to the audience. When the got in the helicpoter, for example, and Reese sat in the passenger's side, which is somewhat unusual for a lead superhero to do. Jason said something to the extent of "Ah! You've chosen the passenger's seat, of course!" and when they arrived to the lair of the villain played by Troy, Jason told him to attack. When Reese said nothing and stood still, Troy shouted, "NOO! He's thinking!!!" and Jason mimed waves coming from Reese's head, and attacking Troy, which got an insane laugh and cheer from the audience.

This is about where I started crying. I cried because I was so happy that everyone in that room was instantly on his side. Not because they pitied him or because they felt obligated, but because they genuinely wanted him on the stage. I was so humbled to know all the people on stage. It was an incredible display of how much you can do in improv. Troy and Jason were effortlessly creating a world and a story based around Reese, and he was clearly loving it. There wasn't one uncomfortable moment because they kept it going non-stop, and made Reese look like a champion.

At this point in the "battle", Reese walked off stage without a word. This caused a bit of concern, but Jason saved it with, "Captain IQ has gone invisible!" which Troy took over by beating himself up, making it look like Captain IQ had indeed gone invisible and was beating him up. Andy, who was directing Saturday night, jumped back staged and gently helped him get back on stage. When he appeared, Troy acted scared, and Jason told him to attack, Andy also was behind him telling him to go for it. When Reese "punched" and "kicked" Troy, the audience went wild. The loudest cheers and applause I've ever heard in that theatre or in an improv show. It was such a great moment, we all wanted it so bad and when he defeated the villain, he had such a big grin on his face. After that moment, he seemed to open up a little bit. Kristin ran on stage and asked for his autograph in a sweet girly voice, and he happily said, "Why sure little girl!" and when he was done giving her his autograph, he said "There you go, Cinderella!"

The scene ended with Jason and Reese on stage, with Jason congratulating him on using his smarts in his mission, and Reese ended the scene with something like, "Yeah because it's cool!" If someone can remember that line, that'd be awesome.

After the lights had gone down and come back up again, some audience members were on their feet. All of them were cheering wildly. The scene got a unanimous five, obviously and rightfully so. I was practically sobbing.

After the show during notes, Jay informed us that that was his friend's son, and he did indeed have autism. He said, "He usually keeps to himself, and it was great to see him come out of his shell." Tyler Pratt said his heart was full after that scene, and Andy summed it all up when he said, "That was something really special, and the audience won't be forgetting it anytime soon."

EDIT: Jay has informed me that, "He has a combination of Autism and Mental Retardation (PC: Intellectual Disability), neither of which is dominant but of course is not a great combination. He was able to tell me that my birthday (Nov. 6th) was on a Sunday . . ."
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » April 4th, 2011, 4:46 pm

had a weird experience during Saturday night's Showdown. after my character was condemned to die, Jericho's character (his best friend and sheriff) volunteered to execute sentence. I didn't cry in the scene (Zeke, as i've been playing him, has been resigned to his fate and almost wanting to die until recently). i got down on my knees and Jericho started reminiscing about our childhood, about the old farm we used to raid and steal peaches from. i mentioned the farmer's dog we would throw the rotten peaches at. he asked me if i remembered the dog's name. i thought for a second, looked up and smiled and said "Clyde." which is right when Jericho pulled the trigger. i went down and laid there while the lights went down and still didn't cry (which would have been a strange thing for a dead man to do). once the lights went down, i got up and went off stage, took a breath...and immediately started crying. it was the strangest thing. i don't know if it was because of the emotion i was feeling in the scene as a performer, or some attachment i'd grown to have with the character, or being engaged as a fan of the show...or some combination.

we've talked about crying AT a scene we're watching, and we've talked about crying IN a scene that we're in. but has anyone else had that experience, of crying AT a scene they were IN after the fact?

there were a few other moments in the show that night i teared up at while watching from the sidelines, so maybe i was just in a crying mood. ;) and at the very least, Kristin wasn't there so we've successfully debunked that theory. :P
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Postby Justin D. » April 6th, 2011, 12:24 am

Halyn, that sounds like an amazingly beautiful moment, and even your description of it made me tear up. Powerful and great job from everyone.
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » April 6th, 2011, 9:16 am

Justin D. wrote:Halyn, that sounds like an amazingly beautiful moment, and even your description of it made me tear up. Powerful and great job from everyone.


yeah, kudos to Jason and Troy. i don't know many performers with the presence of mind or sensitivity to handle it as deftly as it sounds like y'all did!
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Postby DollarBill » May 5th, 2011, 12:52 am

I usually get goose bumps but don't cry. Which is weird. I'm an easy cry in a movie theater. Maybe it's because music gets me more than acting. I bet if I was gonna cry it would be at a Get Up show because of the story/prov-quality/musical scoring.

I get pretty emotional at great improv though. I stop laughing. I become serene and appreciative and fascinated at well acted, well crafted, hilarious prov. But I don't think I ever cried.
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Postby JediImprov » May 11th, 2011, 10:46 pm

Really great thread, have really enjoyed reading all these, everybody's views on things. And Ms Kat, I have loved how transparent and real you have been in your improv, what a gift! Its been a joy to play for the last 10+ months. All very good stories, enjoyed them all.

The thing that I have found interesting as a newbie is how comfortable, slowly, I am getting with whatever emotion comes up- and just letting it take me somewhere. And in all that, there have been some very touching moments, mainly in class- sometimes in watching my wonderfully talented peers, and sometimes my own. Only been at this rodeo for a mere ten months, but I think that has been one of the MANY gifts of improv, a very cool one.

Really appreciate the stories. Good stuff!
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