Q: Do I want to see a mix of "Del Close" and "Keith Johnstone" styles of improv here in Austin?
I interpret this to mean, "Do I want to see a mix of "character/emotional driven" and "action/plot driven" improv?"
Yes, definately. Both have value. Both make for rich, emotionally involved theater.
As a character animator, I have learned that ALL MOTION COMES FROM EMOTION. Meaning, until you know the emotion behind why the guy is running, you won't know how to make the character move (status, body language, etc). Is he... happy to see his lost friend... sad that his lover is leaving... angry that his enemy has just killed his buddy... scared that his child is about to die... all those emotions will create a different looking "run" animation.
In film, my favorite "Action" movies (drama or comedy) are the ones where you come to care about the characters. You want to see them succeed or fail because you see how they emotionally respond to things. And that emotion is something you can identify with. Likewise, the best "Character Study" movies (drama or comedy) are the ones that take the character through a life event. By doing that, you get to see them responding to different situations and other characters, which in turn gives you a multi-dimensional picture of who they are.
I think of this mix as a cubist painting, or a Robert Altman style film. By giving the audience a facetted look at the event, you are revealing more about the characters and the story than you could get with A) just one plotline with just one main character, or even B) a series of situations & characters linked only by thematic content.
I just got back from Chicago with my troupe Wooden Nickel.
We got to see some improv on Friday night, including an 8pm show called "Whirled News Tonight" (with a Q&A with the performers afterwards). We also got to see the Midnight showdown of the "Cage Match! Quarter Finals". On Saturday, WN performed in the CIC Improv Showcase with both "Stewtopia" (another improv troupe), and "Q-5" (a Sketch trio).
Both nights were really fun, but what impressed me the most was our Friday night workshop. It was a four hour intensive with Jason Chin and we intended to cover all of IO's classes -- levels 1-5. It ended up being a R&D session with our form. We tried a few new things and got a lot of great feedback and notes. The result is that we may change our form to a
Deconstruction or Harold so we can keep our stories grounded in reality (and not get too wacky).
Personally, I had an "Eurka" moment when Jason told us the three things I should be thinking about as an improviser were:
1) What is the implied relationship of the other people in the scene with me.
This comes naturally. You already make this assumption and, even if you don't say it out loud, you know in your head if the other imp is your mother, your sister, your boss, your co-worker, etc.
2) What are they REALLY saying under all that dialogue?
3) How does that make me feel?
Before I can act, I need to recognize what my gut, emotional response is to that truth. That emotion will tell me how I should re-act to my scene partner.
**Jason also told us that that during the start of our show I really only had to remember the details from one of the monologs.
Of course, after all that, Jason then told us we were to forget everything and just play the scene. Which is a common coaching tip.
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