Improv is nature...

Discussion of the art and craft of improvisation.

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Improv is nature...

Postby phlounderphil » February 24th, 2006, 6:45 pm

I had a brilliant realization today, one that I've been having constantly for a long time but it still consistently amazes me.

You Me & Greg was teaching an improv workshop at our Alumni high school (Westwood!). We had split the class up into three groups and each person was teaching a separate skill to each group. (Scenework [Denials, etc] - Doug, Characterization - Greg, Status - Phil).

I created a variation of the status card game (where people hold playing cards to their heads). In lieu of playing cards, I had blank cards and I took suggestions for high-status and low-status characters and wrote those names on the blank cards. Each person in a 3-person scene held a card to their head and the other people in the scene were instructed not to give away who the other players were, but to TREAT them like they would naturally treat that person in any environment.

A particularly wonderful scene invovled Jesus, Johnny Depp, and a Dog in a McDonald's. Both characters bowed to Jesus, praised her, asked to touch her clothing and hear her wisdom. When the Dog character asked for a Quarter Pounder, both other players simultaneously commanded her to "Sit!". She sat willingly on the ground as low as possible. At this Jesus began complimenting Johnny Depp on how he looked more attractive in person, etc...at this, Johnny Depp responded "You complimented me, praise God!" and dropped to her knees. I immediately froze the scene at this point and revealed to the students the natural stage picture that had been created (Jesus standing, Depp kneeling, and the Dog laying lowest to the ground). It amazed me that three 15 year old girls with very little improv experience so quickly picked up on status and reminded me that improv, with all its workshops, classes, and books...it essentially a natural art...

I've learned my lesson, when my improv feels stale, over-worked, and not fun anymore...I need to just chill out and get back in touch with the natural part of me that was interested in improv in the first place. I call that part my "inner-child".

In this boom of improv in Austin, let's all remember that improv is at its most, nature. All of us possess it, all of us are capable of understanding it. Some of us just need a bit more practice.

Damn you Johnstone, you were right. Anyone could be brilliant at improv if they just escaped their fear and embraced their nature. Improv is nature.

-phil
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Postby Wesley » February 24th, 2006, 7:55 pm

Both characters bowed to Jesus, praised her, asked to touch her clothing and hear her wisdom.

I was gonna say that your game twist sounded really cool, but then you implied that Jesus was a woman and you lost me. What's next? God is monkey and really did create Adam and Steve? Stop assaulting our nation's Christian foundation with your improv "games."
"I do."
--Christina de Roos . . . Bain . . . Christina Bain
:-)

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Postby Evilpandabear » February 24th, 2006, 8:14 pm

you know in the south park universe, god really is a monkey...
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