AMA: Ask Me Anything!

Improvisors behaving badly.

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Postby Spots » January 3rd, 2013, 2:30 pm

I forget what you call a children's class at church.... but anyways they asked us what we all wanted to be when we grow up.

Kids were saying doctor, lawyer, doctor, things like that.


I got a weird look when I said "Taxi Driver."

Come on guys! For a kid who never drove a car you gotta admit that's a bad ass place to be. Behind the wheel.


By the time I was eleven I definitely wanted to be an actor / comedian. I know because I wrote about it.
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » January 3rd, 2013, 2:37 pm

Chuy! wrote:
jillybee72 wrote:Thank you for the glimpse of little Adriane, Adriane, I love her.

When I was very young, I wanted to be a pony. Then I saw a production of "Oklahoma" and I thought, "Yeah, I'll do that." And I wanted to be an actress from then. In college I started to get disenchanted. I am poor at memorizing and I hate taking direction. Just at that moment a friend introduced me to improv and voila! Here we are!!


Wow, other than the pony part, this is almost exactly my story... (I wanted to be a ninja)


now THAT is a show i want to see! "Chuy and Jill star as...NINJA AND PONY!" :D
Sweetness Prevails.

-the Reverend
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Postby hujhax » January 3rd, 2013, 5:06 pm

Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell wrote:
Chuy! wrote:
jillybee72 wrote:Thank you for the glimpse of little Adriane, Adriane, I love her.

When I was very young, I wanted to be a pony. Then I saw a production of "Oklahoma" and I thought, "Yeah, I'll do that." And I wanted to be an actress from then. In college I started to get disenchanted. I am poor at memorizing and I hate taking direction. Just at that moment a friend introduced me to improv and voila! Here we are!!


Wow, other than the pony part, this is almost exactly my story... (I wanted to be a ninja)


now THAT is a show i want to see! "Chuy and Jill star as...NINJA AND PONY!" :D


TOGETHER THEY FIGHT CRIME

#freefringe

:mrgreen:

--
peter rogers @ home | http://hujhax.livejournal.com

Hint:  some things should actually be designed, such as books and aircraft.
      -- Bob Apthorpe, on the limits of improvisation
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Postby Chuy! » January 3rd, 2013, 6:09 pm

Jill! Free Fringe when you come to town!!!
Chicken Fried Steak and all that...
-CHUY!
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Re: AMA: Ask Me Anything!

Postby helena-back » January 4th, 2013, 3:52 am

CINDY... PS: Yes, the mask... It's how we get through the day w/o hurting others or ourselves,
the only way to actually function in polite society.
You are a talented woman of many hats (lit & fig)
I am wagging my tail in anticipation of your return from hiatus. Mwah!
Though I know it isn't lady like, I'd rather be a smart-ass, than a dumb-ass.
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Re: AMA: Ask Me Anything!

Postby AllisonAsher » January 31st, 2013, 7:32 pm

Jordan, you've spent time being successful in both the scripted and improv world. What would you say are the biggest things you've learned in one that helped you in the other, and vice versa?
--"Just a freaking ray of sunshine."
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Re: AMA: Ask Me Anything!

Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » March 22nd, 2013, 10:19 am

AllisonAsher wrote:Jordan, you've spent time being successful in both the scripted and improv world. What would you say are the biggest things you've learned in one that helped you in the other, and vice versa?


good Lord, sorry for the delay in response! I could have sworn I answered this...ahem, yes, well, whatever internet forum I DID post that response to...you're welcome. :P

It's difficult for me sometimes to separate the two in my head. improv was a huge part of my theatre training in high school, and I started actually PERFORMING improv just a couple of years later. so they've always been kind of intertwined for me. I have the benefit of the script in one. I have the gift of no script in the other. ;) but I'll do my best to answer!

for scripted acting, improv has given me a greater sense of awareness and connection in scenes so that I'm present in the moment with my fellow actors and responding to what's happening in THAT particular performance or take instead of simply reciting something I had worked in the preparation process. along those lines, it's helped me become less stiff and mannered in my performances, and much more playful and adaptable.

for improv acting, my scripted training helped me train my instrument. vocally, physically, mentally, emotionally. it developed my sense for shape of scene and story, character arc, and stage picture (though some of that comes from studying writing and directing as well). I have all of that to call upon, which allows me to then improvise in a more theatrical way...whether it's in a big showy musical number or a more intimate and emotionally grounded scene.

on the whole, though, they feed back and forth into each other. my scripted training lets me construct and call upon an emotional reality, my improv training gives me the immediacy to do so even if I haven't had months to prepare (or to adapt it to what my partner is doing in the moment or just respond in a fresh and new way every time). they play well together. which is why I always recommend that my improv friends study acting, and my scripted theatre friends do improv. because we're all ACTORS. and the more weapons you have to call upon in your arsenal, the better!
Sweetness Prevails.

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Re: AMA: Ask Me Anything!

Postby Mike » March 22nd, 2013, 5:32 pm

Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell wrote:
good Lord, sorry for the delay in response! I could have sworn I answered this...ahem, yes, well, whatever internet forum I DID post that response to...you're welcome. :P


*Throws Hanky*


Penalty!

Delay of Forum Thread ... Gross negligence in answering post directed at a specific individual.

Loss of Comics for one week; Repeat the Thread. Second Down.


::STAB::

"HUZZAH!"

"Hello, Dolly, yes Hello Dolly....It's so nice to have you back where you belong...."
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Re: AMA: Ask Me Anything!

Postby helena-back » April 3rd, 2013, 12:21 am

Beginning of last month I was interviewed by Scott Hearne for his podcast...(not yet aired)
& was asked a very similar question, Jordan...to which my response was quite similar to yours here.
Yes, yes...be in the moment...it can't be said enough. And often a note to self.
Thanks for the reminder, Jordan.
Though I know it isn't lady like, I'd rather be a smart-ass, than a dumb-ass.
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Re: AMA: Ask Me Anything!

Postby helena-back » April 3rd, 2013, 12:28 am

Allison, I know that when you were last in town, you took the workshop w/ Deanna Fleysher.
I saw the resulting clown-work showcase which you were in...
I've taken the shorter version, this time last year.
Can you speak of your experience & about your "take away" ?
-Adriane aka Helena Back
PS: good clown by the way...
Though I know it isn't lady like, I'd rather be a smart-ass, than a dumb-ass.
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Re: AMA: Ask Me Anything!

Postby AllisonAsher » April 8th, 2013, 8:05 am

Now I get the penalty for response delay.

My experience with Deanna was awesome.

The end.

No, it was one of the more terrifying things I've done in a 20 year career of doing things that terrify me on stage. It's like doing improv under a microscope--there is absolutely zero room for fakeness. With a lot of improv, you can get away with pushing a joke or get the audience to go along with you even if you're working a bit too hard, but in clowning, that immediately kills any hope of being found funny. And you can't hide behind a character. You find your clown by starting with stripped down you, naked up there on stage. And even when there are other people, the tightwire that connects you is so sensitive that the audience will turn on you if you're not all being as honest as you can be.

It was also liberating to discover (once the terror subsided a bit) that you couldn't hide. The only way to success was to let the audience see everything, all of your thoughts. And it was amazing for living in the moment, because funny is only really funny in clowning if you can see the transitions clearly, which means slowing everything down and holding yourself in the moment until the next genuine impulse comes.

I think one of the harder things for some of us to learn was that our clown usually resided in the places that we tried hardest to disown. There was someone who didn't like their angry side, so of course their clown ended up being the angry one. I try really hard to disown my sad side, and of course I ended up as super sad clown. That was hard initially, but liberating once you started accepting it. It took a while for some of us to find our clowns--there was some trial and error needed to find out what really wanted to come out.

It was a new thing for me too to realize that my primary relationship wasn't between myself and my fellow performers--it was between myself and the audience. That they were my main focus, that my purpose was to let them know everything that was going on with me. And that if I came to them from a place of asking for love and acceptance, I would be successful in my performance. (Not in the happy-go-lucky "You're my best friend" stuff that you see, but asking them to see all of what I showed, even my scared or grouchy or insecure places, and asking em to love it). It's a really hard place to keep coming back to, a hard place to find--that balance between asking for love and demanding that someone love you.

So those are some of my experience and take-aways. One big takeaway was how accepting and yet unforgiving a coach Deanna was, which I think is essential to beginning work of any kind but especially crucial in clowning. She never tried to change the nature of our clowns, or do anything other that ask that we be ourselves, exactly where we were. It was great--so many improv and acting classes I've been in seem more about the instructor trying to mold us into their version of what an actor/improviser is--be more this, be more that. Deanna never did that. She always started with where you were, and built on the strengths of exactly where you were. But within that framework, she was pretty ruthless about calling us out on behavior that wasn't genuine. If we were faking it, pushing, trying too hard, she's point it out. 'Cause the audience always sees it, even if they don't know what they're seeing.

Another big takeaway is that it's exhausting to keep working at that level of vulnerability. I'm really glad for the 3 days, but we all also spend a lot of time sleeping when we weren't in class because of the work. And another is how quickly being that vulnerable around each other bonded us. I feel closer to the people in that workshop than I do some people that I've played and trained with for years. It was really amazing.

I'm hooked on clowning now, for all that it still scares me.
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Re: AMA: Ask Me Anything!

Postby happywaffle » April 8th, 2013, 9:52 am

Awesome response, thanks for writing it.

How does this thing work again? Somebody ask me something!
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Re: AMA: Ask Me Anything!

Postby happywaffle » April 8th, 2013, 9:54 am

Wait, are we supposed to ask Adriane something first? I totally have a question. What's the back story behind that amazing picture of young Adriane with her father? You can describe or not-describe your personal relations as much as you like, but I'm just wondering about how the picture itself came to be taken.
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Re: AMA: Ask Me Anything!

Postby helena-back » May 1st, 2013, 4:18 pm

Rats...I actually responded to this, but just noticed it didn't post, sorry.
My father, John Shown, was a theatre man in all respects other than acting. (my mother was a Shakespearean actor before moving quickly into radio & politics)
He was bouncing between San Antonio & Off-Broadway Manhattan. Costume, Stage Set, Lighting Designer.
Window display as well, which looked like stage set maquettes to me. He was also a prolific collage artist.
Also an art-to-wear designer for The Cornyation, the politically queer spin-off of the Fiesta Coronation gala.
For a minute, he modeled for mens mags. Yes, he was queer; an S&M bear; a shameless flirt.
Also ahead of his times w/ his bare bones (pun intended) SATX art gallery, "Shown / Davenport". They hosted The Butthole Surfers first gig.
His award winning arts magazine, "Forum" featured loads of SATX artists, actors & those connected to the arts...& followed their careers.
When we both lived in SATX, we were neighbours, I soon moved to Austin (the first of three times) & we had a close relationship.
Not a typical father / daughter, both being starving artists, living the boho dream.
He has a file in the Smithsonian Archive from the 'Portrait of a Living Artist' (my first collage is in there) as well as the Gay Archives in SATX.

I moved a great deal, an average of every 2 years. He moved to Mexico City for the last dozen or so years of his life.
When I went to visit him for 3 weeks in Mexico City, christmas in 93-94...it would be the last time I actually got to see him.
That picture was from that visit, a photo shoot for an arts/fashion magazine.
It was a difficult time, since I had blamed my father for leaving me in the hands of my molesters, even though they were also my mother's friends.
Both of the P's were too wrapped up in their own little worlds to notice anything amiss.
Though John & I spoke a couple of times before his death, internet wasn't the thing that it is today, & reconnecting was quite difficult.
By the end of the 90s, only 1/3 of America was online, by 2000, still less than 1/2.
He died in Nov, 2001 w/ complications of AIDS (or 'natural causes' as the obit would report)
Though I know it isn't lady like, I'd rather be a smart-ass, than a dumb-ass.
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Re: AMA: Ask Me Anything!

Postby happywaffle » May 1st, 2013, 4:30 pm

Fascinating. Thanks for sharing.
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