Creating New Formats!

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Creating New Formats!

Postby Ruby W. » July 7th, 2013, 12:17 am

Hey-o All!

Has your troupe done different formats? (I mean more than just "narrative" "montage" and "mono-scene.")

If so, how did you guys come up with it? What were some strategies to finding new things that excited EVERYONE and that "stuck"?

My troupe has been doing the same format for almost two years and we're ready for something new and exciting. We'll get new ideas but the excitement tends to fade and we find ourselves back to our familiar territory.

Suggestions, personal stories and bragging would be super helpful.

NOTE: I'm not asking for format ideas - but rather I'm asking about your experiences coming up with new formats that are fun, inspiring and STAY fun and inspiring long enough to make them a reality.


yay improv!
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Re: Creating New Formats!

Postby kbadr » July 7th, 2013, 12:46 am

Ask yourselves what you're jazzed about or interested in and dissect it as a group.
Ask yourselves what you as a group are *bad* at and design a format that will specifically address that weak point.

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Re: Creating New Formats!

Postby Asaf » July 7th, 2013, 1:21 am

make lists. lists of movies you enjoy. stories you love. songs that always make you happy. things in the world that get your attention. those things will have things in common. maybe a theme, maybe a structure. you might do an improvised _________ format. or it might lead you to exploration of a theme, a space, a time period, whatever.

Also, I'm really good at helping people create formats. Feel free to hit me up for some free consulting.
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Re: Creating New Formats!

Postby ratliff » July 8th, 2013, 2:17 am

Or ... let each show tell you what the format is for that show. Derive the format from the suggestion, or from the first scene, or from the first line of dialogue spoken, or the first physical action of the show. Instead of imposing a format on a show beforehand, why not discover it at the same time as the audience? Why not improvise it?
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Re: Creating New Formats!

Postby happywaffle » July 8th, 2013, 10:05 am

ratliff wrote:Or ... let each show tell you what the format is for that show. Derive the format from the suggestion, or from the first scene, or from the first line of dialogue spoken, or the first physical action of the show. Instead of imposing a format on a show beforehand, why not discover it at the same time as the audience? Why not improvise it?


While I do think that planned formats are valuable and have helped to create amazing improv, this matches my mindset at the moment.
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Re: Creating New Formats!

Postby trabka » July 8th, 2013, 3:11 pm

ratliff wrote:Or ... let each show tell you what the format is for that show. Derive the format from the suggestion, or from the first scene, or from the first line of dialogue spoken, or the first physical action of the show. Instead of imposing a format on a show beforehand, why not discover it at the same time as the audience? Why not improvise it?


This is by far my favorite kind of improv to do, just be ready to have to concoct some nebulous and vaguely meaningless troupe blurb to sell your show.

On the other hand, I've never been more satisfied after a show where I walked off stage and thought "Yeah, that show was definitely (Whatever the Suggestion Was)."
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Re: Creating New Formats!

Postby ratliff » July 8th, 2013, 3:20 pm

trabka wrote:
ratliff wrote:Or ... let each show tell you what the format is for that show. Derive the format from the suggestion, or from the first scene, or from the first line of dialogue spoken, or the first physical action of the show. Instead of imposing a format on a show beforehand, why not discover it at the same time as the audience? Why not improvise it?


This is by far my favorite kind of improv to do, just be ready to have to concoct some nebulous and vaguely meaningless troupe blurb to sell your show.

On the other hand, I've never been more satisfied after a show where I walked off stage and thought "Yeah, that show was definitely (Whatever the Suggestion Was)."


That's not "on the other hand," that's exactly what I'm talking about. To me the point is to play a completely improvised show and achieve the same sense of completeness, connectedness, and complexity you'd have if you'd hit all your marks in a carefully pre-formatted show.
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Re: Creating New Formats!

Postby trabka » July 8th, 2013, 3:33 pm

My "on the other hand" was referring to the hand holding the fact that marketing that kind of show has a higher difficulty curve than ones with a set format. Admittedly, that hand doesn't really matter.
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Re: Creating New Formats!

Postby ratliff » July 8th, 2013, 3:51 pm

trabka wrote:My "on the other hand" was referring to the hand holding the fact that marketing that kind of show has a higher difficulty curve than ones with a set format. Admittedly, that hand doesn't really matter.


... OR DOES IT?
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Re: Creating New Formats!

Postby kbadr » July 8th, 2013, 5:14 pm

ratliff wrote:Instead of imposing a format on a show beforehand, why not discover it at the same time as the audience? Why not improvise it?


Because sometimes the entirely open and blank stage will make people fall into familiar habits. A format or specific show concept can provide focus. What you view as an imposition can also be viewed as a way to force a different kind of creativity.

Why, Ratliff, would you answer a question of the form "How do I do X" with "Don't do X" ?

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Re: Creating New Formats!

Postby ratliff » July 8th, 2013, 6:01 pm

kbadr wrote:Why, Ratliff, would you answer a question of the form "How do I do X" with "Don't do X" ?


I gave the answer I did because it seems like there might be some improvisers reading this forum who don't realize that it's okay to not have a preformatted show.

I didn't say not to do it. I brought up not doing it as a possibility that might offer its own challenges and satisfactions. I assume that people who've already been doing a format don't need the benefits of format explained to them, though you did it very well.

I really didn't think I'd offend anyone with this. I didn't say anything negative about formatted improv. (FWIW, I recently finished a run in one formatted show and am about to start rehearsals for another.)

I meant to make a case for unformatted improv as something worthwhile and engaging in itself, rather than just a slapdash series of unrelated anything-goes scenes devoid of tone or theme. in other words, I wanted to point to it as something that might be worth pursuing if you're getting tired of your format and are seeking a change.

That said, I'm genuinely sorry if I pissed anyone off. That wasn't my intention.
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Re: Creating New Formats!

Postby kbadr » July 8th, 2013, 6:29 pm

I'm just engaging you in a good old fashioned forum pissing contest. Let's kiss and make up in an hour.

You work your life away and what do they give?
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Re: Creating New Formats!

Postby ratliff » July 8th, 2013, 6:34 pm

Let's. As long as you didn't mix up those two rhyming words. The Randy Meisner at ColdTowne tonight at 8.30, everybody!

Ruby, you can have your thread back now.
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Re: Creating New Formats!

Postby kbadr » July 8th, 2013, 7:25 pm

Also, Ruby, when you discover a format you like doing as a group, it helps to treat it as fluid. What worked the first run of the format might not work the next time. PGraph has tweaked French Farce numerous times to keep it fresh and interesting to us. It might not look any different from the outside, but our approach has changed as we became interested in other things and felt the need for inspiration. We get bored easily, though.

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Re: Creating New Formats!

Postby Ruby W. » July 9th, 2013, 8:10 am

Hey-o!

Ratliff, I really like your idea and I want The Escorts to consider doing that once in a while. I know we have enough chemistry and experience between us to pull that off. I think it would be a challenge, but that alone should push us to do it.

What we're looking for right now is more like what Kareem is suggesting - formats that are custom-made to challenge and excite us. We want to do something more than just your basic format structure - narrative, mono-scene, Armando, etc. We want to do something that really comes from US. It's actually very similar with what Pgraph does.

(Also we want to be able to have a kick-ass poster and "hook" for OOB.)


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