The Importance of Stage Time

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The Importance of Stage Time

Postby Spots » June 3rd, 2011, 6:19 am

Hi lurkers and regulars.

This rarely comes up. But for many of you it is a big deal. Let's say you take classes. Theoretically, let's say you take 7 classes a week. In each of these classes you have an average of ten classmates.

OK, this group is your bubble. You are comfortable performing and acting silly in front of these folks. It doesn't really matter that you have 7 bubbles in which you feel safe to goof off. As soon as these classes are over, you will suddenly feel weird about performing. Your bubble will burst. So to speak.

This is why I feel it's important to seek stagetime while you are attending class. Stagetime is a totally different bubble that takes a little practice to feel comfortable performing for. The eyes and ears of strangers are upon you. It can be weird. But without the experience, performing improv will one day become foreign to you.

My suggestion: do both classes AND stagetime simultaneously. In fact, consider stagetime as part of your classes. Because without stagetime, you are likely to drop out.

I've seen it happen again and again. Seek stagetime. Seek the strange feelings that come with it. Because ultimately you want to do this for a long long time but without stagetime you will gain apprehension about performing.

Some people take the perspective "now that you've been taking classes so long, you are NOW prepared for stage time." In my opinion these people do not represent your best interests. Seek stage time while you take classes.

Thoughts?
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Postby dancrumb » June 3rd, 2011, 10:13 am

I couldn't agree more, Jesse.

I think the open events at places like TNM and Coldtowne are a great way to get stage time, since you can get on stage without needing to set up a troupe, rehearse and then book shows. It's also a great way to play with people at all different levels.

One vital aspect of time in front of an audience is learning how to react to them. An audience is one of you your best guides as to what is working in a scene. In a class, you have a pretty small audience and that audience is watching you with a critical eye (critical in the analytical sense, not the negative sense).

Finally, classes can sometimes have an element of artificiality that make improvising frustrating. If you're learning tap-outs, every scene has to be a tap-out and that can be limiting and annoying. Stage time gives you the freedom to use all the tools you have in your pocket whenever you consider them appropriate. This is a liberating and exciting experience.
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » June 3rd, 2011, 10:35 am

absolutely. i've seen a world of difference between people in classes who only play in their "end of level" showcases and people who jump in to sign up for Maestro and Fancy Pants and throw their names in the hat for the Lottery, do the Jams and the Mixers and what not, etc.

plus, you're PAYING for classes...you get the stage time for FREE! ;)
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Postby Spots » June 3rd, 2011, 10:58 am

Right on. Sometimes it's also more than your own stagetime experience. In some cases, I've had to physically drag fellow students to jams in order to keep the class retention rate up.


It's that fear of success that holds people back the most. They get what improv is. They love it. But pushing through the first hours of stagetime is usually what determines whether or not it will finally click.
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Postby Brad Hawkins » June 3rd, 2011, 11:07 am

I disagree completely. Only by biding your time and waiting till you feel you are thoroughly ready can you make a good first impression on the improv stage. I recommend skipping even your class shows if you don't feel you're 100% ready to nail it. That first time out of the gate needs to be brilliant, as no one will give you a second chance. The people who cast shows are always watching, and always judging. Improv is a cruel mistress, and newbies who can't cut it are thrown to the wolves. I recommend just giving up now.


What? Oh, like we want a bunch of people with broken sarcasm meters hanging around.
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Postby Spots » June 3rd, 2011, 11:14 am

Brad Hawkins wrote:I recommend skipping even your class shows if you don't feel you're 100% ready to nail it. That first time out of the gate needs to be brilliant, as no one will give you a second chance.


Brad alludes to a good point. Make mistakes. Make serious mistakes.

The other day someone offered me the gift of a returning character from a previous scene. I immediately "gifted" this character a new name and moved the scene in another direction. Whoops. They jumped right into the new scene without skipping a beat. The scene was fine. But ultimately I'm learning to look for those sorts of patterns. Which can be easier in a controlled class environment.
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Postby Brad Hawkins » June 3rd, 2011, 11:50 am

Spots wrote:
Brad Hawkins wrote:I recommend skipping even your class shows if you don't feel you're 100% ready to nail it. That first time out of the gate needs to be brilliant, as no one will give you a second chance.


Brad alludes to a good point. Make mistakes. Make serious mistakes.

The other day someone offered me the gift of a returning character from a previous scene. I immediately named this character and moved the scene forward in another direction. Whoops. They jumped right into the new scene without skipping a beat. The scene was fine. But ultimately I'm learning to look for those sorts of patterns. Which can be easier in a controlled class environment.

My first show (it was the Lottery at the Hideout), I literally ran and hid. Rather, my character hid behind a curtain, and I couldn't figure out how to get out (narratively speaking) from there.
The silver knives are flashing in the tired old cafe. A ghost climbs on the table in a bridal negligee. She says "My body is the life; my body is the way." I raise my arm against it all and I catch the bride's bouquet.
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » June 3rd, 2011, 12:15 pm

Brad Hawkins wrote:My first show (it was the Lottery at the Hideout), I literally ran and hid. Rather, my character hid behind a curtain, and I couldn't figure out how to get out (narratively speaking) from there.


i did that in a recent Pick Your Own Path. so i endowed my character as the Great Wind of the Mountain. I was onstage for most of the show. but i think my face was only seen three times (and one of those was by accident. :p).
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Postby jillybee72 » June 3rd, 2011, 4:08 pm

We call them flight hours, you have to log them.
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Postby Terry » June 3rd, 2011, 4:28 pm

This is a great thread. (Thank you!) Getting up on stage (outside of classes/electives) is something I haven't done yet ("No time!" is my excuse. "HOLY CRAP! THE FEAR!!" is my reality.), and I know (I KNOW) this is what's going to help me put all the pieces together.

I will give myself by next Sunday to break through and GET ON STAGE. (Otherwise I'll call myself out for not doing it and you can all point and laugh at me at will.)
Last edited by Terry on June 3rd, 2011, 4:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Importance of Stage Time

Postby Alex B » June 3rd, 2011, 4:49 pm

Spots wrote: "now that you've been taking classes so long, you are NOW prepared for stage time."


Similarly, now that you've logged 500 hrs in the flight simulator, you're ready to captain a commercial jet.

[sarcastic teen from 80s] NOT!! [/sarcastic teen]

I think you nailed it. The only thing that prepares you for the stage is the stage. And even then it's not foolproof.
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Postby beardedlamb » June 3rd, 2011, 9:52 pm

jillybee72 wrote:We call them flight hours, you have to log them.


[happy hands]
.............
O O B
.............
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Postby Spots » June 6th, 2011, 1:22 am

Alex B: I saw you recently and LOVED your scenes. You were taking every gift and turning it into something wonderful. (car engine with a kitty tail sound familiar? ) Also, you should meet Alexandria Berry. I detect a new a cutesy name troupe!!!


Terry: How's progress??? What's going on in your head about your upcoming stagetime? Try not to overthink it. That's the mistake I make. :)
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Postby B. Tribe » June 6th, 2011, 9:18 am

I had the luxury of being in The Draft during Level 1 and then joining Achatina shortly thereafter. I was able to use what I had learned in class on stage almost immediately. I never got intimidated by the audience; lack of stage fright from years of doing theatre will do that. It was another opportunity to GET BETTER, to put in that time that's required to become the performer I wanted to be, that I still want to be.
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » June 6th, 2011, 10:06 am

jillybee72 wrote:We call them flight hours, you have to log them.


now i feel like George Clooney in Up In the Air.

the only time in my life i'll ever feel like George Clooney. ;)
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