This week is a bumper edition of all things improv as I went to drop in AND a all day class on Saturday with a guest trainer so it’s been really fun so let’s start with Tuesday.
Tuesday with C3Something
This weeks lesson was taught by Shem, so in true Shem tradition it was full of lots of energy! This week not many people turned up so it was me and 5 guys! I don’t mind doing inprov with just men but you do end up finding yourself being put as the wife or girlfriend in most scenes.
The warm up was all about rapping and getting into the mindset of getting ready to be involved in a scene. You would rap you name something you really like. We then went round the circle telling the rest of people stuff that happened on their day. Then each of us in the circle would then have to retell other people’s story in the style of a trailer for a film.
The next thing we did was each take it in turn to tell stories of toys from our childhood – whilst we were doing this we had to keep throwing pens at each other around the room randomly and we had to catch them – if anyone dropped their pens we all had to run around the room ( I promise this WAS improv and not a gym!!).
After we had each told a story we then had to stand at the back of the stage. The idea was to go up to someone else and make their childhood toy memory into a scene. I played a scene with Alan about worshipping Furbys and another one with Rob about the PlayStation.
We then started to focus on this weeks lesson. The first thing we did was Scenes with documentary style similar to that you see in When Harry Met Sally when couples tell about how they met. In that scene couples tend to praise the other Person / talk about them and then the other person would respond talking and praising that person. The idea of the exercise was to get used to living and accepting what your Scene partner says
The next thing we did was scenes where it was a similar exercise to the one above that within the Scene we had to make sure we praising were praising the other. If anyone was not doing this in the scene we were forced to run around the room – (again this WAS improv and not a gym!!)
The final game of the day was a car based game. All 5 of us had to be in a car and take on characters depending on what happens in the scene and you have to become the characters that the others praise you to be. It was quite a fun little game to play but hard to do when you are in that sort of small space. True to Shem, it was another fantastic lesson and I really enjoyed it.
Case Study 1 – Shy Ronnie
The first case Study today is a sketch character from Saturday Night Live that sort of sums up what Shem was talking about in the first part of the lesson – Shy Ronnie.
Shy Ronnie is a character played by Andy Samberg on SNL and was based around a bank robber who can’t say anything as he is too shy when Rihanna is around. When she leaves the room his attitude completely changed and really comes out of his self as a bad guy.
This relates to Shems original games this week as he told us that the aim of the lesson was to make characters and to get known / present ourselves to the audience.
Suki Webster – Saturday class
On Saturday I signed up to a class with Suki Webster to gain more training in the world of short form improv.
We did a number of warm up games that I have played in the past and funnily enough haven’t played since I was in Newcastle. The first one we did was a Name throwing game where we say our name and throw it to someone across the circle. Then we played the Eye game where you look to floor then look up and if you are staring at someone then you are our of the circle.
We then did a game I did in one of my first ever improv lessons where you walk around the room Naming items that you point at and then you go around again giving items in the room a different name then whatnit is called.
The next game I haven’t done since Tom took over for a lesson in Newcastle where we are blindfolded and lead around the room. I still didn’t like this game and this version also meant we were being swapped between people when our eyes was closed. It was still a very weird experience and I hated it – apparently this sort of defines who you are as an improviser – whether you are a leader or like to be lead in the scene – I am not sure about this all i know is I hate it and reminds me of sleep walking.
We then played the Box game which is another game I haven’t played since Newcastle and the first lessons I did – this is when you cheer on your partner as they pick things out of a box and have to name as many things as they can that they are lifting out.
We then did a focus on Facial expressions we were put in pairs and had to mirror each other to make a face and then we had to became that character / adding a name and then walking around the room introducing ourselves to others.
We then played a game that I think is now one of my favourites. You have to enter into a room as many times before the leader says stop in as many different characters as you can saying “Is this the right room?” It is such a fun game to play and I really enjoyed it as I felt it was such a character building game and made you really think on the spot. I really enjoyed this game and tried to channel my inner Jim Carrey.
The next game we played was called “it’s Tuesday” – each person was given an emotion and when someone gives you a random dull sentence you then have to go on about that topic in your emotion that you have been assigned the first person says to the other “it’s Tuesday” and then that person has to go on about the day Tuesday in a heightened version of the emotion they have been given.
The rest of the afternoon we looked at two games that are popular on Whose Line and that are played in the same way but with two different factors.
The first game we played was the party game – this is when people turn up at a house party and effect the emotions of everyone else on the room. The first time we played it people were given emotions that people had to change and then the next time we played it later on we played it with different genres.
Another game we played was the rollercoaster game – this is when you play a scene straight and then change the emotion / genre depending on what version of the game we were playing.
Another game we played in the afternoon was Emotional date – I have never played this before and I really enjoyed it! Three people were assigned emotions and then they all had to play one person on the date with someone else. It was a great game and you had to freeze tag people out of play and I would love to play it again.
Case Study 2 – Suki Webster
Suki was a fantastic trainer and I really enjoyed being taught by her. She gives very clear instructions and really gives strong details and explanations which is something that made me really admire her as a tutor.
At parts of the lesson she gave examples and improvised in different scenes – her character work is so inspiring and is someone who I will now look up to / remember when I do scene work. Her dedication to character in a scene is something that you forget to do in scenes sometimes especially on drop in lessons as you feel that people will think you are being silly but from watching Suki in character it is something that I am Now going to focus on a lot more in future.
One thing I took away from Suki, and is also something I urge other improvisers to do is start to take notice of what your weaknesses are as an improvisers and start to really dive into the deep end and face your improv fears.