The Harold

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The Harold

Postby Sully » September 20th, 2010, 3:43 pm

What is The Harold to you? Is it just a format/structure? Is it a style? Is it Way of Life? Is it your sister's father in law's name?
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Postby Jastroch » September 20th, 2010, 3:56 pm

Uh oh. HERE WE GO AGAIN! LoLS!

Depending on who you ask around here, it's either the worst thing to happen to improv or the best thing to happen to improv.
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Postby TeresaYork » September 20th, 2010, 3:56 pm

It is my future father-in-law's name.

And, it's a fun improv format that normally makes my brain hurt.
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » September 20th, 2010, 4:33 pm

it's that kid with a purple crayon who can bend reality to his will...fear Harold!
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Postby Matt » September 20th, 2010, 5:18 pm

I see it as one of many ways to structure a show. When played well, it can give a satisfying feeling to both players and audience, when played poorly, it can leave a sour taste in the mouths of same.

I don't see it as fundamentally better than any other format, as to me its the players, not the structure of play, that makes a show great.
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Postby Marc Majcher » September 20th, 2010, 5:52 pm

It's just this format that a bunch of people like. Some people think it's neato, some don't. Whatever works, man.
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Postby ejbrammer » September 20th, 2010, 7:32 pm

Some people think that it's more of a state of mind. It started out as a format. It's either done really structured, or it's studied as a structure and then the structure is abandoned and it's spirit is alive? Or something.

Structure is this:

Opening of some kind
Scene 1A
Scene 1B
Scene 1C
Game!
Scene 2A
Scene 2B
Scene 2C
Game!
some more scenes that maybe tie everything together?

Makes my brain hurt too sometimes. I have mixed feelings about it. Could be cool if done right, generally makes you think a LOT, am still trying to figure out how groups are both supposed to 'do' it and 'let it go' (and I was on a group that only did Harolds for a year!).

Its very important to what's called the "Chicago" style of improv.
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Postby Meghan W » September 20th, 2010, 9:01 pm

I always thought Scatter!'s version of the Harold was super-duper. It still had some magic from the structure (and I think they usually hit all the "points" outlined by Emma), but it felt incredibly natural. They were playing inside it rather than imposing it on their play. It's hard to describe, but it felt like they knew something you didn't, and were enjoying that a lot. And being awesome at the same time. They were really good at that. Sadly, I think Scatter! has pretty much . . . scattered.
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Postby PyroDan » September 20th, 2010, 10:24 pm

The standard structure was originally created to bridge between playing the Spolin type improv games and an actual improvised one act play.

From what I have read/heard of Del, he never intended for the Harold to be the structure it is known for. As a point of fact he only named it so people would understand what the hell he was talking about.

I like performing, and teaching it, but I don't consider it the end all be all. I have found that if you have done the Harold and then do a more free form, or montage type show piece, the things you learn from the Harold show up and make the piece you are doing much better.
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Postby arthursimone » September 20th, 2010, 11:58 pm

ColdTowne's Level 4 is all-Harold

Some people dig it, some people get twisted up inside, but from my experience, they all enter into the Level 5 Forms class with a thorough appreciation for what they're all trying to do. I feel it teaches you that long-form improv can go somewhere other than a story or random character scenes.

I don't feel, however, that Austin could ever really be a Harold town. For one thing, people are too ambitious, too playful, and they have a great deal of freedom to do what improv feels good or speaks to them. That's a good thing. My experience watching, coaching, or performing with upstart Austin Harold teams is that people are buying what the Harold is selling at discounted prices.

I don't want to say that the Harold Harold Harold Harold Harold atmosphere of I.O. is a good thing or a bad thing, it's what they do and what they got.

Austin's got a groovy cross-pollination play-based atmosphere that I think everyone who lives and plays here can't help but love, and if I hold my hand up here, I'm sure someone will high-five that sentiment...
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Postby Roy Janik » September 21st, 2010, 12:13 am

High-Five!
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » September 21st, 2010, 8:26 am

can we do a group high five in mid air, then freeze frame like 21 Jump Street?

i kind of view the Harold the same way i view gamey shortform and ComedySportz style stuff...in that when i was younger, more stupid and less patient, i hated it because it wasn't "my" thing. but in the intervening years, i've seen people who do get something out of it do it amazingly well and love it, and carry what they've learned from it into their non-Harold work as well.

i see it as a valuable learning tool, but in its purest form i've rarely enjoyed a performance of it. i think the fact that Del encouraged deconstruction, subversion and experimentation of that form is crucial. understand the box, then break the box. i'm not fond of the kind of mystification that some (especially new) improvisers endow it with, like it's the holy grail of all prov, or that all longform is beholden to the Harold. i found it rather funny, playing in the Harold Tournament a couple of years ago in the LA Improv Festival, how few troupes ACTUALLY did a Harold.

IO's had great success in branding it, and awesome for them, but i think even those who focus and specialize in "Chicago style" see the benefit of not feeling beholden to a rigid structure.

it's not for me, but i can't deny its benefits for others. :)
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Postby Asaf » September 21st, 2010, 8:43 am

Image
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Postby PyroDan » September 21st, 2010, 8:56 am

Wow A! That chart is super sweet. I've always had to dry erase board it, like a last minute basketball play.
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Postby arthursimone » September 21st, 2010, 9:39 am

I love that chart, Asaf, who made it?
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