My notes on the Annoyance Summer Intensive -- Day 2

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My notes on the Annoyance Summer Intensive -- Day 2

Postby tacotrombone » July 20th, 2011, 2:37 pm

Mark Sutton was our instructor for the morning session. He was the man.
Mark plays with Bassprov, and he actually looks and dresses like a guy that's in between fishing trips, but he talks like a Buddhist. I got more insight from Mick and had more fun with Susan, but Mark would be the one I would want as a long term coach. Reminded me a lot of Todd Schanbaucher at times. Really good stuff.

He let us get a couple of lines into scenes, and then he paused them and made us state the want of our character. He then resumed the scenes and made us say the want within the context of the scene two more times. It was SO freakin' helpful—it actually split the scenes up into very natural beats and kept us in check. I want to keep working with this little trick.
Note: this is not to say we are supposed to come out into scenes with words like “I want to support my mother” as our want. In the context of the exercise, that's what we did, but later in the week he incorporated this by having us feel the want as a filter and improvise through that. It was awesome.

He said
1. the first step is to say and act everything through this filter
2. then, be affected through that filter
This blew my mind wide open—the filter goes both ways. You don't just stand and say funny things as the funny grandma, you also react in the moment that way (and you get there by physicalizing it).

Mark said he doesn't like to tell people to “play characters,” because that's how people get insincere and start inventing.
He wants people to play the scene.
His gem of a quote was, “Play the scene. Be the character.”

My favorite quote of Mark's from that part of the day, “The success or failure of a scene in the mind of the improvisor is determined in the first two and half seconds when they walk out to start the scene. Be present.”
Looking back on shows/classes/rehearsals, I realized this was completely true.
I then tried putting this in practice during the week, and it proved itself to me every single time.
By getting present in my body (the one note we heard from all five teachers), I am able to make active choices for myself that are honest and fun, which makes them easier to call back and far more enjoyable to play and watch.

Lunch at Ba Le, Vietnamese food that I did not like

Tuesday afternoon with Rich Sohn
Before, during, and after this class, I did not like Rich. He was quiet, sarcastic, and passive aggressive.
By the end of the class, everyone seemed down in the dumps.

One exercise took up almost the entire session.
First, we came out and did two person scenes that were six lines long (3 lines per improvisor). Then, he asked us if we could remember our lines verbatim. When we were positive that we could, he told us to sit down and hang onto what we said.
After everyone went, he paired different people up. The first six lines of the scene were exchanges of the completely unrelated dialogue.
The idea was for us to hang onto our deal no matter what, even if it didn't make any sense to begin with, so that clarity would emerge by two people sticking with who they are.
I think that the exercise actually would have been a lot better in the hands of someone else. He got really passive aggressive and sarcastic when people didn't get it or couldn't hang onto their POV.
This was our first introduction to “taking care of yourself.”

Tuesday night shows:
Cook County Social Club (8:00 at iO downstairs)...I can't remember the two opening Harold troupes, but by this point I started getting really tired of training wheels Harolds.
Cook County Social Club only had 3 of their 5 members that night, but it was really badass. It reminded me of Bad Boys a lot if they had been playing for another 5-10 years. So freakin' cool. Danny and I were really into these dudes. They didn't have a “format.” Instead, callbacks just happened and they went to scenes both my jumping to those environments or whenever their physicality matched up with another scene. So much fun to watch.

The Reckoning (10:30 at iO), Dream Cannon
I had seen too many awkward organic openings and group games to get excited for Dream Cannon, the Harold troupe that opened for the Reckoning, but these guys nailed it. The cool thing was that edits were handled organically by all members of the troupe, so that
a. if one person edited by being a tornado, they were all tornadoes
b. everybody had to be on the sidelines looking like they were going to sprint. It was the most engaged support on the sides I saw all week.
Their suggestion was shadow, and in the opening each person had a shadow that followed them around onstage or laid down behind them with their feet hooked around the “real person's” ankles and walked with them. Later, they did shadow puppets onstage and spontaneously called out for the lighting tech to put on a spotlight, which they immediately did, and then they all became a huge shadow making hand. This show was awesome.
The Reckoning seemed like they had a really off night. We all agreed that Jet was hypnotic and amazing to watch, but the show never really gelled with all of them putting in the same amount of focus or effort.
"Music throws you back into your body like organic food or heroine." -- William Matthews

"The consequence of joy is a good show." -- Susan Messing
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