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PostPosted: July 21st, 2011, 11:03 am
by York99
beardedlamb wrote: any form can be good when done well.


But, grasshopper, must any form be bad when done poorly?

PostPosted: July 21st, 2011, 11:19 am
by Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell
tacotrombone wrote:I'm not a genre/narrative expert--at all.
So, please help me out here:
Can genre/narrative improv lend itself toward those two types of Harold mentioned above?


yes. but i'm pretty sure every improv form, style and format in the world can be broken down into those two "types." (ie: shows where the performers are planning ahead vs. shows where performers are organically discovering)

tacotrombone wrote:What is different about genre/narrative in Austin vs. what I saw in Chicago?


well, i don't know exactly what you saw in Chicago so it would be hard to address specific differences. but i know the main difference i've seen in narrative and genre work (two different things) in Austin versus other scenes and cities is a propensity for more respect for the structure, and treating the work as theatre which includes and lends itself to comedy rather than just straight up comedy itself. narrative isn't viewed as merely a delivery system for jokes. genre isn't used as mere fodder for parody and satire.

which isn't to say there aren't elements in other cities doing work like this, or that i haven't poorly done narrative and genre shows in Austin over the years (though it seems far more rare to me these days). but that would be the primary difference i've noticed.

PostPosted: July 21st, 2011, 11:46 am
by bradisntclever
beardedlamb wrote:i think the collective conclusion we are coming to as a community on these forums over the past few years is that any form can be good when done well.

can we make that a sticky in the theory forum titled: Read this before you talk smack


can we please?


I'm all for this. As someone who has spent a decent amount of time on both sides of the narrative/non-narrative fence, great shows can and do happen in both camps. Both require a great deal of preparation. Don't underestimate either one.

PostPosted: July 21st, 2011, 11:54 am
by bradisntclever
All that being said, I've really enjoyed Shua's notes. Thank you for sharing them with us.

PostPosted: July 21st, 2011, 12:35 pm
by shando
tacotrombone wrote:2. The other method is trusting the collective unconscious to make the callbacks happen honestly and spontaneously.


This is the goal of every narrative show I've ever been in or produced, and I know this is where the Hideout cats operate from as well. And the same goes for any narrative improviser I know and respect.

I'd say more but others have said it better and with a cooler head than I would bring to the table.

PostPosted: July 21st, 2011, 12:56 pm
by SamM
Joshua and I were in the same Level 1 class at ColdTowne, and we have since gone up through the conservatory together and become good friends. I can say with complete confidence that he is:

- One of the most open-minded people I know and
- Completely in love with the art of improv (as evidenced by these notes he shared)

So while I understand that his comment regarding genre and narrative improv can be disappointing to those who teach and perform (and love) it, I hope that people don't hold it against him.

Let's just view it as the natural growth of an improviser to try and find new perspective and information about different forms of the art (which seems to be happening).

PostPosted: July 21st, 2011, 1:00 pm
by Roy Janik
So while I understand that his comment regarding genre and narrative improv can be disappointing to those who teach and perform (and love) it, I hope that people don't hold it against him.


Well said. These notes are great. This is just one small part of them.

PostPosted: July 21st, 2011, 1:02 pm
by shando
Roy Janik wrote:
So while I understand that his comment regarding genre and narrative improv can be disappointing to those who teach and perform (and love) it, I hope that people don't hold it against him.


Well said. These notes are great. This is just one small part of them.


Word.

PostPosted: July 21st, 2011, 1:13 pm
by York99
This thread is making me nostalgic. Although I have to say these were more heated back in the day. Maybe I'm just remembering them through rose-colored memory glasses.

Where have all the flowers gone? Indeed.

But having gone through them helped me open my own improv mind and know why I prefer what I do and why others prefer what they do.

PostPosted: July 21st, 2011, 1:15 pm
by shando
York99 wrote:This thread is making me nostalgic. Although I have to say these were more heated back in the day. Maybe I'm just remembering them through rose-colored memory glasses.

Where have all the flowers gone? Indeed.

But having gone through them helped me open my own improv mind and know why I prefer what I do and why others prefer what they do.


Quiet down over there, York.

PostPosted: July 21st, 2011, 1:53 pm
by Jastroch
I love improv. I love improv so much that I sacrificed my career, a relationship, my savings and good credit to open up an improv theater. I love improv so much that I work 40 hours a week for essentially no money to create a space where people can learn, teach, play and grow.


The theater we co-founded with a whole bunch of talented, like-minded people is dedicated to a certain style of improv -- a school of thought and a method that didn't have much of a presence in Austin pre 2005. Coming from different backgrounds, we don't always agree on some of the details about that school of thought or what to call it. But in terms of substance and overall approach, we teach the Harold.


When people and performers I respect post messages on public forums relentlessly critical of the substance of what we do based on one or two shows they saw, their impression of theater politics or due to personal taste, it hurts my feelings and makes me feel threatened. Not just for artistic reasons, but because of the time and dedication and sweat equity we've put into our work. And the fact that I and others have literally gone all in on this.

Given this recent kerfuffle vis a vis narrative improv, I'm hoping that the next time a Harold topic comes up, people who are usually quick to jump on the "My Improv Is The Best" bandwagon will reflect on how they feel right now -- which I'm guessing is probably a little upset and defensive.

We're all here to have fun and learn. Rather than tearing down eachother's approaches, let's ask questions and gain insight. Yes and eachother, in other words.

And also, I'd like to echo Sam's observation -- Josh is awesome.

PostPosted: July 21st, 2011, 2:30 pm
by Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell
i know that having the Coldtowne folks in Austin, and getting to know other Chicago trained improvisors in town both before and since, really opened my eyes and mind to what the Harold and "Chicago style" has to offer and can develop in people, even if it's never interested me that much performatively (though even that i'm coming around a bit on, lol).

i think it's like anything when you first discover your niche or something you're passionate about, you attach your being and identity so fervently to THAT to the exclusion of all else with an almost religious fervor. and i don't care if it's improv style, martial arts school, spiritual path, political party or presets on your radio dial...suddenly, you're every 17 year old asshole who's ever walked the planet. you've got it all figured out. you know the One True Path.

then you go on, you learn more, you meet people, you realize everything is way more complicated, fantastic and interesting than you ever imagined and start to understand how full of shit you were.

then you go on, you learn more, you get to know those people you met and you figure out they're the same as you and we're all just trying to muddle through and every different divergent path we were taking was really just trying to get us to the same place so why did we waste all that time when we could've been dancing with each other and buying each other beer?

and then you die.

the true strength of Austin improv, and if i've said this once i've said it a thousand times by now to people here and abroad, is its diversity. that not only do so many styles and voices co-exist in this town, but that they bump against each other and mix and mate and create strange hybrid formats and performers. so let's just dance and drink together while we have the time and make some fucking theatre.

all the rest of it is just tribal bullshit. ;)

PostPosted: July 21st, 2011, 2:31 pm
by tacotrombone
I can see now why so many people guard their workshop notes so closely.
I'm going to take a break from posting anything on AIC for a while.
Really bad taste in my mouth.

I want to make clear that I don't know how someone could get upset if they read my entire entry.
Hell, I put this up first:
[DISCLAIMER: I'm not perfect.
These notes are my opinions and half-remembered thoughts.
I will most certainly contradict myself in shows and rehearsals—I've only been doing this 15 months, so I'm a work in progress.
If you would like to find out the truth about the Annoyance Theater or Chicago, I highly recommend that you remember that these are just one guy's opinion and make the trip yourself. The intensive and experience in general was worth all the money and time.
If they were going to add a subtitle to the Annoyance Theater Summer Improv Intensive, it should read “How to get out of your head.”]

If you read what I wrote and still don't feel like I'm coming from a well-meaning place, let me buy you a drink some time.
If that doesn't work, come see a show I'm in.
Still not doing it for you? Let me know the next time you're teaching a workshop so I can learn your views on this art form we both obviously care a lot about.
And if that still doesn't sell you, come play with me. Anyone who has played with me knows that--to a fault--I give it everything I've got.

If you're the kind of person who goes to other avenues and posts passive-aggressive things about stuff written on a forum (that word actually means something) or is now wanting to come see me play in hopes that I'll contradict myself (spoiler alert: I will. I'm human), then maybe you should buy me a beer so you can get some things off your chest.

I'm really disappointed that the "notes" I shared (which were really more of a journal) got boiled down to one line, taken out of context, and used against me.
.....

To everyone on this forum that teaches from the heart instead of ego, thank you.

To anyone who owns and operates a theater, I owe you more than a drink.
You've given me a creative outlet and a home.
I am very grateful.

PostPosted: July 21st, 2011, 4:15 pm
by TexasImprovMassacre
I don't see anything wrong with what josh posted...

I think that it is fair to classify the way bad genre narrative feels as gimmicky. If its improvised ______, and the improv isn't good, and all you have left is the ______...then it can feel like it was just a gimmick all along because there was nothing else really there.


Regardless of how a show was intended to be perceived, I think it is still important to acknowledge how some people may have perceived it. Without good improv to back it up, the best intentioned tropes may still feel like part of a gimmick.


Also, to stick up for josh further, it seems like the "smack talk" statement lamb is re referring to is actually making the same point lamb goes on to make...and in my opinion josh's original point isn't smack talk.

PostPosted: July 21st, 2011, 4:23 pm
by Spots
kbadr wrote:
Equating narrative and genre-based improv with "gimmicks" is something I've heard multiple times and it really makes me sad.


Jastroch wrote:When people and performers I respect post messages on public forums relentlessly critical of the substance of what we do based on one or two shows they saw, their impression of theater politics or due to personal taste, it hurts my feelings and makes me feel threatened.


Jastroch wrote:Given this recent kerfuffle vis a vis narrative improv, I'm hoping that the next time a Harold topic comes up, people who are usually quick to jump on the "My Improv Is The Best" bandwagon will reflect on how they feel right now -- which I'm guessing is probably a little upset and defensive.


Don't want to be direct so prepare for floaty abstract Spots words:

People have different tastes. Sometimes they passively make decisions and talk about these passive decisions at a later time. I like to call this dialog. Sometimes it seems like unsolicited filth. But really dialog allows people to flesh out their aspirations & beliefs and helps cement them on their path.

For instance... I don't know where I stand on the genre narrative argument. I don't know where I stand on the Harold argument. At this very moment I am perfectly content doing montages. But like MANY people on this forum, one day soon I will start making passive decisions and find myself leaning one way or the other.

I would argue the folks whose feelings are hurt just need to grow a thicker skin. Because there's absolutely nothing wrong with expressing opinions about style or substance.

For the sake of growing if nothing else.


No matter how many times it's been argued in the past, new people are still coming to that fork in the road. It will keep coming up again & again.

Calling for an end to people's opinions is plain absurd. If tacotrombone's post is an example of unacceptable behavior then WE ALL have some growing to do.

We don't all have to agree. There need not be a consensus. In fact, all of the individual businesses benefit from tiny disagreements here and there and the healthy competition spawned by those disagreements.

Variety in the marketplace is very well encouraged.


I can't help but notice a tit-for-tat dynamic between 2 particular theaters in town. And watching that healthy competition makes me giddy. Everytime I see the competitive drive it's like I can feel a pulse beating. It's exciting.