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My notes on the Annoyance Summer Intensive -- Day 1

PostPosted: July 20th, 2011, 2:36 pm
by tacotrombone
Note: class is 9:00-12:00 and 1:30 to 4:30 every day
Mick Napier for first session:
Mick was mumbling to himself when he came in. He wore low top tennis shoes, baggy jeans, a long wallet chain, a black wife beater he had cut off to show the top of his underwear ($50 says on purpose), and a Boy Scout baseball hat that never stayed on his bald head.
He casually introduced himself, his theater, and his book while talking with his head down and cocked to one side; however, his eye contact was absolutely otherwordly. They say that if you were to travel in a straight line through the universe, you would end up exactly where you are—making eye contact with him felt like that. It was really strange. If Eckahrt Tolle had a Dark Side/Darth Vader counterpart, he would be Mick Napier.
He then went into talking about how he's an alcoholic who doesn't drink right now and 5 pack a day chain smoker who doesn't smoke right now. He also mentioned that he's a 48 year old bisexual who's in a 15 year relationship with Jennifer, director of the Annyonance and his friend's ex-wife.
The CT group later talked about it, and the consensus was that his eyes were saying “help me.” He's an intense dude. I hope he finds peace.

My goal for coming to the Annoyance intensive was to work on
a. honesty--doing the TJ Jagodowski work of using honesty to inform real choices instead of relying on invention
b. reacting emotionally—coming from a place of honesty to connect with my scene partner emotionally
c. to have fun while using a. and b. (honesty and reacting emotionally)

His diagnosis for me was to “rip open my phyiscal space,” do more of what I was already doing physically, but instead of thinking about the physical stuff (i.e. it would be fun to walk or talk a certain way), have fun by getting into my body instead of my head and let my physicality inform everything.
When I mentioned that this leads to me playing caricatures instead of caricatures, he gave a great example about TJ. He said that when TJ looks shifty and bewildered, it's because he is just soaking up what that feels like and lets that inform everything else about him. The internal dialogue is probably still. He's just literally being shifty and bewildered.
He said that a lesser improvisor could look the exact way on the outside (shifty and bewildered) and instead be thinking of what the next move is, what this says about the relationship to the scene partner, how this could somehow tie to the organic opening, etc.
He said that using my body and feelings in a healthy way actually does the work of a. choosing honest and real moves, b. reacting emotionally, and c. having fun.
This also ties into Hess' thing—taste the pasta. Don't just act like I'm eating the pasta. Choose the meal I would really want to have in front of me and enjoy it...and the audience and my scene partner will enjoy it with me.

Mick also gave this great equation he said was his untested hypothesis: “The more importance you put on the improvisational experience, the less likely you are to play.”
I think sums up everything about me in the past 15 months.
I've wanted to be so good at improv (reading every book that's recommended to me, taking every workshop, writing down all the notes I can, etc.) that I've taken all the fun out of it.
I had been thinking about taking classes via Hideout or Merlin Works when I graduate in a couple of weeks from CT, but now I realize I don't need anymore rules or knowledge right now.
I just want to play for a while and remember how it feels to just have fun with all the toys I've picked up. It's time to start treating what I've learned like toys instead of tools.

Besides his way of diagnosing us, the other thing I really liked was his way of giving notes: he said he hates and avoids telling people to not do certain things. Instead, he cuts through the bullshit by telling someone to notice when they are doing x, but to focus instead on doing y (note: a part of this is straight out of Inner Game of Tennis, although Gallwey takes it even further...).

Lunch at Crew, gay sports bar, with Mick
Awkward for so many reasons, namely that he sat next to me and kept talking about how much he liked to suck boys' dicks.

Rebecca for second session (she was so into our scenes and exercises that she was unabashedly rocking back and forth and completely enthralled and even mirroring everything we were doing throughout the entire week...she's playing with Switchboard at OOB. I can't wait to see her in action).
Oddly enough considering my note from Mick, her entire thing was about physicality. She said that this is far and away the one muscle all improvisors seem to be lacking.
The best exercise we did was walking around while she called out
a. body parts,
b. animals, or
c. adjectives.
I'm still trying to figure out which of these triggers is best for me during actual scenework.

Note: she said she does not say “lead” with your body part b/c she does not want us to actually walk with our knees out in a weird way and be thinking about what this says about our character.
We should instead “focus” internally on the body part so that other internal things like emotions and memories will bubble up naturally.

Rebecca said
1. first, check in with yourself
2. then, go to your scene partner
3. then, go to your environment
She prioritized this and showed how we can build a world by going in that order.
This note came from people going to their environment when they got nervous instead of making eye contact with their partner.

Rebecca said that, for her, all of improv is:
1. taking care of yourself
2. connecting with your scene partner
That's it.

Gem of a quote from Rebecca (via someone else I can't remember): “The first 3 seconds of the scene is your promise to the audience of who you are going to be.”

Monday Night Show:
Messing with a Friend free show with Michael Thornton at Steppenwolf. Note: Thornton had a wheelchair, so she had one too to use on and off in between scenes.
First time I've ever wanted to cry during improv. Also, the funniest show I've ever seen. Amazing.
There was a scene I'll forever remember as “the Jesus” scene where a girl with a short leg and speech impediment was visited by Jesus. It was better than any sketch I've scene. So incredible.
Note: one of the highlights of the trip was getting to talk with Susan two days later about her incredible show.
She broke down exactly what was going through her head during each of our favorite moves (hint: nothing at all. She was just focused on giving herself a POV via physicality and vocalization).
I've always wanted to know how certain players feel about their work afterwards. Since I don't get to these shows every week, I wanted to know if that was average, special, really amazing, etc.
She agreed that the show was/felt really special and that she wishes she had had that one recorded, specifically because of the Jesus scene.

Re: My notes on the Annoyance Summer Intensive -- Day 1

PostPosted: July 24th, 2011, 1:52 pm
by cortniejones
tacotrombone wrote:It's time to start treating what I've learned like toys instead of tools.

That is a yummy line. I like it.

I'd like to put away the tool box and bring out the toy box! OoooOOO! I forgot about this toy...