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Adam Meggido Improv Jam
Did Adam Meggido of Showstopper and School of Night and the 50 hour improvathon come and lead us in an improvisation Jam session? Yes.
Did he go through some exercises in improvisation and explore some basic principles? Yes.
Would we like him to come back? Yes.
So, step one - we practised saying Yes. Opening up to possibilities. Later Adam shared a story about how, when two actors are given the task of sailing to a desert island in an improvisation, they almost always spend their entire time in the boat - and no one ever gets there. Saying Yes can mean saying opening all sorts of doors, such as what happens when you actually get there.
It is one of Adam's 'principles' - rules can be broken, as long as you stand by your principles.
We practised with a cocktail party in which we agreed and went along with (said yes) each idea as it came up whilst we mingled with each other. We weren't allowed to say no. As we talked we 'endowed' each other with certain qualities...
'You are the guy who jumped off that building last night right? With only a sock as a safety rope?'
Then we played with developing the yes - Yes, and..., and Yes, but...
In pairs we took it in turns, first 'yes anding' (developing) then with a yes but... The But introduced a problem which then had to be solved. 'Let's eat a sandwhich', 'Yes, but this one has a hair in it.' 'Let's make a new one.'
In a useful game we tried this as a group, everyone suggesting ideas and then playing along, with the proviso that we could drop out whenever we didn't want to do what the group wanted. Could we last 2minutes before twenty dropped to 8?
Not at first.
Things that made us drop out were - non sequiters, repetitions, unspecific tasks...
Another game - one person stands on stage, three people sit in front of them. He asks, What happens next? The three take it in turns to suggest the next piece of action, which he then acts out.
In the second half this came back more and more as we played with creating scenes from nothing, just two people facing each other and tasked with finding out who they were, where they were and what they were doing. Once that was established the scene was stopped.
Adam talked about keeping it within the 'circle of ideas' - if the scene is ironing, explore ironing, domestic duties, etc before you add in space robots. Stay within the circle of ideas.
We were busted for saying no to ideas - and encouraged to see each yes as an opportunity. Although there were moments it seemed certain no's and negativities were narratively useful for building tension, or laying events, it became clear how within an improvisation clarity and a exploring spirit were more useful.
We needed to be specific, to use big brush stroke exposition, to label clearly who we were and what was going on - otherwise it became a bad Beckett play.
Importantly, Adam pushed us to take everything from the other person; Even the first line has lots to feed it - the way our partner is standing on stage, our positions relative to each other. The key was to attend to these, and then explore - not in crazy and wacky ways but by pushing on, further and further, saying yes to each ideas as it presented itself, having no need to venture out of the circle of ideas, trusting that the scene is interesting without us forcing it.
We looked at the idea of a 'tilt' - a device in which the audience, and performers, expectations are subverted slightly. Thus we all thought Faye was a synchronised swimmer, until she revealed she was an underwater wrestler (sorry, Wrastler).
We explored comic and more serious scenes but building always from what was infront of us. Adam used the idea that a good improvisation 'walks backwards through the scene' using what is already there, rather than forging ahead creating all the time.
Adam also reiterated the need to mean what you say - that if there is a mother's death in a scene, that needs to be explored and invested in fully, in all its dimensions, and cannot be used simply as a device or in the fog of creating words have its relevance overshadowed.
A wonderful session. Amazing how, regardless of how much improvisation there is within our work, working on the basic skills of this sort of improv seemed so unfamiliar at times.
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, Aug 4 2011, 6:55 AM EDT
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|Started By||Thread Subject||Replies||Last Post|
|Federay||walking backwards||0||Aug 9 2011, 11:28 AM EDT by Federay|
|RhysMeredith||Three principles.||3||Aug 9 2011, 11:26 AM EDT by Federay|
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