Creating New Formats

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Creating New Formats

Postby TeresaYork » May 3rd, 2013, 4:54 pm

Hello AIC!

I am coaching a team here, and so far have taught them various forms: deconstruction, living room, Armando, the Harold, and the basics of narrative.

I want to now enable them to create their own form and wanted to see if anyone had any insight on a process / method they use for doing this.

Any sharing is much appreciated. Hugs from sunny Cali.
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Re: Creating New Formats

Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » May 3rd, 2013, 5:03 pm

I like to think of stories I enjoy in various media and what it is, beyond even genre, that I enjoy about the shape of those stories (or character/relationship dynamics, setting, spectacle, etc.) and try to come up with a simple improv exercise to draw those things out in play. sometimes the exercise becomes the format, sometimes it leads to an association chain that creates the format ("oh yeah, but what if it was like this...!"), sometimes it bombs and fails and our play goes hurtling in the opposite direction and that becomes the format. I think it's just about getting excited over something and mining the fuck out of it. :)
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Re: Creating New Formats

Postby PyroDan » May 3rd, 2013, 8:55 pm

I always ask the group to individually list what moves/play style they have seen/performed and liked, and what they would want to do on stage. Then I tabulate what they could handle in a given time and then I make them run a piece like a goulash of everything they said.

It's a wonderful clusterf*ck most of the time, but something comes out of it generally and from there I have them hone and whittle WITHOUT making hard/fast rules of what NOT to do.

I like to think of the Bruce Lee styles mantra applied to improv. You have to learn and master all the styles and forms you can, and then take what you use the best and you have your style or form without form. Sounds weird, but in practice it works.

Simplicity is best when experimenting.
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Re: Creating New Formats

Postby ratliff » May 3rd, 2013, 10:39 pm

I like to think about what they do well and then come up with exercises that push that. If they seem to resonate, you can think about integrating them into a format. In a way, it's almost like the game of the scene: "If it's true that they do that well, what else is it true they do well?"
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Re: Creating New Formats

Postby TeresaYork » May 6th, 2013, 10:26 am

Thanks everyone!
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Re: Creating New Formats

Postby jose » May 10th, 2013, 1:24 pm

When I'm working with a group to create a new form, I start off by asking them what works of art (performance, literature, paintings, photography, film, architecture, etc.) they find inspiring and to hone in on one (each individually). Then, I have each of them come up with a 15-minute-long mini-form inspired by that work. For narrative-based works, I encourage them to not replicate the narrative arc or structure but to use the themes that are there as inspiration. So, instead of mapping out, say, 2001 with regard to what happens, the goal is to translate the ideas within it (evolution beyond the physical? the advancement of technology? monoliths are cool?) in an interesting way via a structure and the techniques you might use.

Each person gets to essentially teach their mini-form to the rest of the group, coach it, and finally do at least one run-through. (Two or more run-throughs are probably better so we can see how this specific mini-form deals with different suggestions.) Once we've done everyone's mini-forms, that's kind of where I step in to note any parallels, connections, or common thematic elements between the ideas behind the mini-forms and our conversations and figuring from there act as a launching pad for whatever form will be synthesized from all of the work that's been done. Not every element, idea, or technique used in the survey of the mini-forms will be used, but the hope is that the group will have a wide breadth of options to translate their goals and ideas for the form to the stage.

That's kind of a ballpark idea of what I do for facilitating a group to create a new form. Throughout the process, I try to balance focusing on what's interesting, fun, and inspiring for them to play around with making sure that the structure and techniques they use for mini-forms and the overall form both have purpose and can be flexible.
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