Rehearsal Amount

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Rehearsal Amount

Postby TigerStripes » June 24th, 2011, 9:41 am

I've been thinking about the difference in the amount of time for rehearsing an improvised show versus a scripted one lately.

With Showdown we did five hours a week for six weeks. I think we could've had a couple more weeks to really work on language and really hit stage picture/dynamic even more, but ultimately I was really comfortable with where the show was. I suppose the biggest difficulty to rehearsing an improv show, especially in relation to something scripted, is the more you run it the more tired it gets. Part of why improv thrives is a continual newness.

We had extra conditions to think of because we were running a serial. But I was wondering if any improv show would actually benefit from rehearsing fifteen hours a week. What could be explored that improvised shows normally don't get to?

With Showdown we spent a lot of time running Viewpoints and doing teambuilding work for the ensemble.

Could we get improv performers to commit to 15 hours a week of rehearsals? Would it be fruitful?

Topic up for discussion.

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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » June 24th, 2011, 10:06 am

it would absolutely depend on the format. you hit on something when you talk about the perpetual newness of improv, and i think at a certain point you run the risk of losing some of the joy of playing and it just becomes work (work that you're not getting paid much, if anything, for). most improvisors in town are in multiple shows and troupes and also have their day jobs, school, family, significant others and friends to tend to as well. with one troupe i helped put together, just finding TWO hours in a given week to get even half the people together has proven impossible on more than one occasion.

for things like Showdown, False Matters or Violet Underbelly, where there's a genre overlay, or like Austin Secrets and Live Nude Improv, where the format calls for specific skill sets and unfamiliar structure to be worked on, it makes sense to have an extended rehearsal process. but i don't know if it would be better to have the same amount of time per week over more weeks, or more time per week in the same time frame. where's the line between learning it and burning out?
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Postby Matt » June 24th, 2011, 10:33 am

15 hours a week seems excessive to me, if only because I see improv as a release from the hectic schedules of working life. Needing to somehow find and devote 2 extra hours every day for one show would suck the joy out of it for me. I top out at 2 rehearsals a week for that reason.
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Postby erikamay » June 24th, 2011, 10:57 am

this is something i have been thinking about lately.

my response is based on the purpose and lifecycle of the team/troupe/ensemble.

i think that a dedicated rehearsal schedule (akin to a sketch show or play) results in a higher quality of output for an ensemble that is put together for the sole purpose of producing a finite run of shows. beyond convention, language and technique to be learned, you've got the whole group dynamic and mind to work out, and that needs both personal and on your feet time with the group. from a logistical perspective, i think this is harder to get commitment from the players you would like to cast, since they are probably in demand elsewhere, too.

for a team that is a regular house team, after the initial team building stuff, once a week rehearsals work for maintenance. then, if the team decides to do something new, start a more intensive rehearsal schedule.

i really admire the dedication of the rehearsal schedule for SVT and Hideout mainstage shows. i think the quality and consistency of those shows are good data points for the fruitfulness of a more focused rehearsal schedule.
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Postby York99 » June 24th, 2011, 11:50 am

If I heard that a troupe was rehearsing 15 hours per week, I don't care what they were doing format-wise or otherwise, I would go see them.
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Postby B. Tribe » June 24th, 2011, 12:32 pm

Usually my college troupe got together once or twice a week for 2 hours a rehearsal. When a show was coming up we'd occasionally add a third. 6 hours was probably excessive for short-form. We never felt burnt out though; too much fun was being had.
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Postby PyroDan » June 24th, 2011, 12:47 pm

My old college troupe rehearsed 3 days a week, 3 hours a pop. Of course we had a high turnover rate being a college troupe, and we did short-mid-longform at most of our shows (roughly 1.5-2hr shows). We also hungout all the time, roomed together, and some members married each other.

It was very apparent in the quality we produced, the fun we had, and the fact we were very keyed in group mind wise.

I can't imagine that schedule working in the real world unless that was the only thing any of the members did outside of sleep/work.
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Postby ratliff » June 26th, 2011, 8:30 pm

York99 wrote:If I heard that a troupe was rehearsing 15 hours per week, I don't care what they were doing format-wise or otherwise, I would go see them.

Yes. And probably ask if I could join.
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Postby sara farr » June 28th, 2011, 9:51 pm

Puppet improv works best with improvisers trained into puppetry, and GOOD puppeteers work YEARS to make their art convincing.

In PIP, we spend part of our rehearsals on just that. However, I think anytime you cast a show with ppl that haven't played together, part of your rehearsal process needs to be spent on developing group trust - like Erika said - and part of your time needs to be spent on the show; and part on letting go of all that and re-engaging the fun of improvising.

Layer tech on top of all that and you've racked up quite a few number of hours.

I wish more people would be committed to longer or more intense rehearsal stages. I agree that the resulting show is always MUCH better.

My question back to you all would be... Is it better to cram 15hr/wk over 4 weeks (2hr/day*5days/wk), or 8hr/wk over 8 wks (2hr/day*2day/wk)? I'm leaning towards the 2nd.
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