My notes on the Annoyance Summer Intensive -- Day 5

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My notes on the Annoyance Summer Intensive -- Day 5

Postby tacotrombone » July 20th, 2011, 2:39 pm

Rich Sohn for the 2nd time.
Rich came out of the gates swinging. He was still quiet and sarcastic, but he left the passive-aggressiveness out of the class.
His exercise was the turning point for me that I had hoped to have that week.
I went first with this guy named Gary.
We did 2 person scenes where we were supposed to heighten to crazy town.
The catch was that everyone in the class would clap the moment the players stopped heightening.

Our scene was a husband (me) and wife (him) arguing. The claps kept pissing me off because they were so damn accurate and precise—not once did I hear a clap that was forced. We kept heightening and heightening until everybody was clapping and Rich told us to go crazy.
I slammed the door and we went to crazy town.
My brain shut off and Gary and I were just yelling nonsense syllables at each other until Gary just and landed with his back on the ground and I kept screaming nonsense syllables back at him. Then, I jumped on top of him and started doing handstands over his head until everyone in the room was laughing so hard we had to stop.
There was a moment when I was doing a handstand over him that my brain shut off. It reminded me of the times that I've done long distance running and my body is so tired that my brain just watches without words. It really felt like I was playing for the first time in over a year. It felt so great to just let go like that and play again without thinking about anything technical that I want to cultivate that now.

This was huge for me—the audience can feel the exact moment when I feel the energy drop and need to heighten or have stopped listening. Every time I feel it, the audience does as well. I don't know why this is such a novel idea to me, but I wish I could do this exercise in every rehearsal. I'm not sneaking anything past the audience, and it helps to be reminded that the audience sometimes trust my gut more than I do. That's a pretty wild concept.

I mentioned that all the scenes that started with a relationship heightened really easily and smoothly.
The scenes that started off about an object or task were really hard to heighten and got really awkward. (I think this can be applied to organic openings and group games, but I'm not sure how.)
Rich said that hopefully when people deal with objects and tasks they still ultimately dealing with the relationship via POV/attitude/emotion.
He said that the “rule” against doing transaction scenes serves as training wheels for people who don't use POV/physicality/vocalization to their advantage to create characters and later relationships with strangers.
People usually drop their shit, stop taking care of themselves, and get into the logic of the transaction (the “why” of the scene becomes important to the improvisors and the audience when the improvisors are not committed).
The key is to come out with something and heighten it.
He said transaction scenes can be magical if we filter any interaction through POV/physicality/vocalization.

Rich's advice if we were going to take away only one thing:
Make a choice for yourself that comes from inside.

I asked him how to make a choice for myself that comes from inside when I'm working within the context of a form like Harold when the overall narrative dictates so many choices for you (i.e. I know I'm about to be endowed as the Australian bank teller we've been talking about all show).
He said I still make an intuitive feeling choice (emotion/physicality/vocalization) to inform my approach to the Australian bank teller.

Lunch at Demera—turns out I still don't like Ethiopian food.

Friday night shows:
Improvised Shakespeare (8:00 at iO upstairs)
This show was fucking awesome. It had one of the Michael Pizza guys and some dude named Blaine Swen whose been voted best improvisor in Chicago a couple of times.
I was blown away by how rich the characters and relationships were...all while speaking within Shakespearean parameters. Their suggestion was “slutty prom queen,” and they freakin' nailed it.
So damn good.
I've hated narrative and genre improv for a while now, but these guys showed that it can actually be really great if people use their vocalization, physicality, and POV to their advantage. So very funny.
First time I've given a standing ovation at an improv show.

The Late 90's and Revolver (10:30 downstairs)
The Late 90's kind of had the same feel as the other Harold troupes. I'm not sure if it was because I wanted to see an Austin person wreck shop or what, but I was really frustrated with the fact that the other improvisors seeme to be writing out loud and stepping on all of Stephanie Cook's ideas. She had some cool moments. I definitely want to see her again.

Revolver had a really awkward energy and seemed to keep going for jokes instead of good improv. I couldn't take any more so, I bailed. I turned around, and Kristin, Krilov, and Danny had all come with.
I don't ever need to see another 3 scenes/game Harold again.
"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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