Using improv to develop a scripted show

Discussion of the art and craft of improvisation.

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Using improv to develop a scripted show

Postby EAC » August 28th, 2012, 8:48 am

Hi,

I have taught several improv classes to different age groups, but starting in a few weeks I will be teaching improv having for the first time the goal of developing a play (which will have improvised components, I'm sure, but will have a set plot and structure) that the students will perform. Does anybody have any resources or advice on the art of using improv to write a script?

Thanks,
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Postby Spots » August 28th, 2012, 11:55 am

Clarification. Are you requesting resources on:


1.) The Three Act structure with the intent of your students adlibbing each scene within given plot points?


2.) Broad "advice on the art of using improv to write a script"?



For the latter it can be as simple as filming a show or rehearsal and painstakingly transcribing it:

https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B2Z_Uw ... VNFcUprUlE




Roy and others have amazing advice on the other question. I would personally suggest every student buy a copy of Christopher Vogler's "The Writer's Journey." Build your curriculum around that.

I know that sounds oversimplified but you should see the book.
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Postby PyroDan » August 29th, 2012, 3:49 am

Check out the Second City Almanac of Improvisation...

http://www.amazon.com/The-Second-City-Almanac-Improvisation/dp/0810118017

Second City is all about improvisation for the purpose of creating a scripted show while still being loose to be original every night. This has some stuff that might be helpful.
- I was a member of the club and i felt like a f*cking fool- Bukowski
http://biglittlecomedy.weebly.com/
http://www.newmovementtheater.com
http://www.pdogs.com
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Postby Spots » August 29th, 2012, 8:23 am

Great idea Dan.

My main observation turning improv scenes into scripted scenes was this:

You are doomed to bungle up why the scene was funny. Unless you tape the show. Your memory simply cannot serve you to remember the lines of dialog, and more importantly the tone and body language used by the players. Subconsciously you picked them up during the show but now you have nothing to work with.

So the words can be recalled loosely but characterization & rhythm will be lost.


Here's a scene from memory:

MAN "If I try to leave you will stop me."

WOMAN "You can go. There's a Starbucks outside. Why don't you wait over there?"

MAN "It's a trap. There are more pudding monsters over there."

WOMAN "There are no pudding monsters. You are freaking out."



Here's the same scene Transcribed From Video:

MAN "If I come over there... you're gonna..."

WOMAN "You could go. Do you wanna go outside? Go outside. That's fine. I don't care. You want to-- why don't you go to the-- there's a Starbucks across the street. Why don't you go wait over there--"

MAN "This is a trap. There are more pudding monsters over there."


WOMAN [rubs face with hands]

WOMAN "There are no pudding monsters. I prom-- Sweetie you are seriously-- you are freaking out."


If I were to recreate this scene from memory it would lose all characterization. This is why sometimes you'll end up with a premise that once made the audience laugh hysterically, but in recreating the scene you come quickly to realize the humor had nothing to do with the premise itself.


Invest in a cheap flip camera!
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » August 29th, 2012, 9:44 am

Spots wrote:...you come quickly to realize the humor had nothing to do with the premise itself.


just accept this as a given truth from the start. ;)
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Postby Roy Janik » August 29th, 2012, 10:20 am

There's a theatre group in Chicago called The New Colony that does just this for all their productions.

They start with a one page short story, cast the show, then have the actors monologue as their character.

After a few rehearsals, the actors do scenes with each other... sometimes scenes the writer has in mind for the show, and sometimes just scenes that explore the character.

Everything is videotaped. Then the writer goes off with all this knowledge and footage and makes the script, leaving bits of it still open to being improvised (denoted by brackets around the dialogue).

Once that's done, the cast reconvenes to rehearse based on the script.

From what I understand, the script still evolves and changes during the run of the show.

I haven't seen their work, but it seems like a pretty interesting model.

Here's a link to the podcast where I learned all about it:
http://podcast.improvresourcecenter.com ... linder.mp3
Last edited by Roy Janik on August 29th, 2012, 10:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Spots » August 29th, 2012, 10:29 am

From a writer's perspective, that's absolutely brilliant. Giving voice to the characters and their Point of View is always the hardest thing when sitting down to write a script.


Again you can have all the premise in the world but it will spiral into chaos on page 60 without structure & characterization.



Thanks for this Roy! This is the direction I was heading. Listening now.
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » August 29th, 2012, 11:29 am

Spots wrote:From a writer's perspective, that's absolutely brilliant. Giving voice to the characters and their Point of View is always the hardest thing when sitting down to write a script.


actually, that's the easiest part for me...it's actually coming up with shit for the characters to go through (y'know, the PLOT) i have trouble writing. that, and exposition. my brain is a backwards brain. ;)
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Postby Spots » August 29th, 2012, 11:37 am

Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell wrote:actually, that's the easiest part for me...it's actually coming up with shit for the characters to go through (y'know, the PLOT) i have trouble writing. that, and exposition. my brain is a backwards brain. ;)



Embrace it. That's a good way to be.


Plot? That's what spam is for.
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Postby PyroDan » August 30th, 2012, 6:03 am

Plot and exposition can be overrated. It is a character's struggle we are all interested in.

The plot for every Doctor Who episode can be summed up with...

There is some strange or off kilter (time/planet/happenings/beings) that are (stumbled upon/discovered/visited) by a Timelord know as The Doctor. After he arrives in his TARDIS with his companion (hot blond girl/surly and hot scottish girl/ cute approachable English girl/ boring insipid English bloke) companion, and after some talk and the use of some sort of sonic powertool, things are righted in the universe if not in the following 45mins, then within the next episode.

Exposition, some dude from the Planet Galferey stole a TARDIS, destroyed his race, and now just travels through space and time, paying penance.
- I was a member of the club and i felt like a f*cking fool- Bukowski
http://biglittlecomedy.weebly.com/
http://www.newmovementtheater.com
http://www.pdogs.com
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