Chaos Attraction

Improv 201, Week 5: An Orchestra No One Is Conducting

2015-08-06, 11:44 p.m.

Part two of the same day.

Previous improv entry here.

This week was dedicated to learning group scenes—which was kinda awkward when only four showed up. This is giving me whopping flashbacks to trying to take improv classes in my town again and four was as many as we could get on a GOOD day. However, Brian said he could just start inviting other people to come to class to fill in in the future—which I think is a good idea at this point. I think we’re just going to have to do this class over again on week six anyway at this point.

I asked him how Harolds work when they have eight person teams, as I see in the shows these days .He said usually only six do scenes and the other two do walkouts.

We didn’t even do any regular scenes/monologues this week, it was pretty much just games. After doing a bit of Thunderdome again, we played Cocktail Party again. One side was talking about putting a dick sticker on a car and then the trouble that ensued from that, the other side talked about weird things one could do with their fingers. There was also using a drone to do creepy spying on someone’s mom, vs. having a fetish for glow-in-the-dark objects.

Then when we got to the “blend” portion of the evening, this got… complicated when Brian tried to explain it. I basically just kept sitting there stoopid on this one because he never liked how I tried to do it and the explanations apparently just whizzed over my head.

Explanation #1:“It's like a peanut butter cup. Your fingers have to mix with their dick.”

Explanation #2 used the examples of bolts, nuts, and screws. Bolts only talk about bolts, nuts can walk over and blend nuts with screws. The active group cannot blend, but the inactive one can. You can’t blend your world into someone else’s.

Explanation #3, provided by one of my classmates, was “they have to be talking and you walk over.” Ohhhhhhhhhhhh.

Another note: everything you say on stage is important—nothing’s a throwaway. You have to be present.

Then we went on to the group scene lecture: this is Brian’s favorite thing.
* It’s a scene with patterns, a “who” and a location, but no real “why.”
* It’s an anti-scene because everyone is unusual and nobody is grounded.
* They can be anything and may resemble a short term game, but it’s really a scene.
* They go from believable to Crazy Town.
* Everyone is responsible for editing them.
* Don’t have tunnel vision during them and ignore everyone else—keep looking at each other just in case.
* It’s a bunch of people on the same stage, not overthinking it and just having a great time.
* You commit to a simple idea and play it with passion/reckless abandon, and it’s the craziest part of the show.
* You should end on a hit, not on a plot.
* “Group scenes are like an orchestra no one is conducting.” Or they’re self-conducting.

He cited a few examples he’d seen:
* His favorite team, The Smokes at UCB, who did a scene in which everyone was Velcro and sticking to each other. The group mind took over, he said.
* The fan story that he mentioned in Improv 101—don’t turn off the fan/where the energy is at.
* A scene in which three people were taking a bath. “Just take a fucking bath.” Keep everything simple and play with one idea.

Then we did several group games.

Environmental charades: one person acts something out in a location and the others start acting out something that would apply there. We did the gym, a circus, and a constructions site.
Bands: same idea but with musical instruments and sound effects, and by the end we’re supposed to figure out what kind of band we’re all in.
Car scene: the driver gets into whatever kind of car they’re in and establishes the situation, and everyone else has to guess what kind of car it is. Good lord, was I not good at that one, especially when other people decided to play tank or helicopter—and I thought the last one was Back to the Future. Brian was all, “It’s like a Back to the Future helicopter.”

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