Scene and Character Workshop: Wackadoodle Is Okay With Me
2016-10-22, 7:48 p.m.
This was a fun day.
For about 3.5 hours I went to a special one-off improv workshop on scene and character. One of the teachers used to perform here until she moved to LA, and she was splitting the workshop with her and her husband. She was doing the character half of it first, and I really liked it. God knows I need help with this sort of thing, and it was good stuff.
After doing warmups, she had us do an exercise in which you start being a character doing a monologue on some random thing and everyone else has to imitate you doing it, and then other people tag in and start continuing the same thing. Then we switched to doing two person scenes where we’d trade off playing characters in mid-scene. Pretty cool stuff.
I was in a scene about football players debating whether or not to vandalize the coach’s house. I had a fun switch between throwing the flaming toilet paper and then running away as the character who didn’t want to do it.
Then we did an exercise in which we were supposed to be talking about our real lives--just anything we do for real, nothing we make up--while doing it in the personalities of whatever she called out. In my scene we had to be Igors, smug moms, lazy lions, and PE teachers while having a usual conversation. She had me start over a bit saying that she could still see me in there (that’s my usual issue) and had me work on getting physically back into playing a PE teacher.
This pointed out that you can keep talking about stuff you know about while layering on another personality. It’s not so much of a stereotype when you have real stuff going on instead of recycled invented character crap. You can layer a fun character on top of real life. Get into the physicality of it instead of staying too much like yourself. Combine “what would this person do?” with your real life.
She finished with, “Thank you for doing weird shit with me.” I liked her.
I was a little more perplexed when working with her husband though. He was kinda vague--pretty much all, “okay, go do a scene” and at one point he said, “do an organic opening,” which isn’t really something we uh, know about or work on here. (Brian has said that since this ain’t LA and we don’t all have tons of rehearsal time, they don’t really do any openings beyond monologues in class.) This turned out to be something like someone suggested a swamp and then everyone pretends they’re in a swamp. Ooookay then. Then we had to do two person scenes. I tried to initiate one on the Oregon Trail game (it came up during a warmup) and the guy had no idea what I was talking about and kept insisting this was nothing we had to worry about in modern times. He’s a nice dude, but I kinda threw up my hands at that point. So we switched to using football metaphors during a court trial (sounds like something out of The Good Wife).
Random notes (I’m not entirely sure what the context was at this point...):
I did a scene in which I was playing a rock climber who was freaking out while the husband wanted to put the rope down, their arm was shaking, they were taking phone calls, I’d watched some movie on TV about killing someone by dropping the rope...and eventually I faked skidding down the rope a bit and landing into the curtain onstage. Go me! The director guy actually really liked this one and had me jump in on someone else’s scene later (they were up in the clouds) just for kicks.
Overall, that went really well, so I was happy.
After that I wandered down the street to the local hippie store, which was having another festival in which they offered free classes. I went to one on palmistry which turned out to be really good. It wasn’t what I expected, she basically did quickie palm readings of everyone right there. I recorded what she said on my phone (couldn’t take notes during it!), which means sometime I’ll have to find the time to listen to that again and take notes on it in order to remember it properly. I have a loooooot of lines on my hand, which I always wondered about. She said I’m busy all the time, hahahahah, and some other really interesting things that actually ah, got me to sign up for a reading later this week.
Which Mom had an interesting reaction to when I told her--at first she started yelling at me to promise that I’d cancel (this from the woman who recounts every time a friend of hers goes to a seance at the comedy club. I’m not making that up.) and then after I got annoyed at her and said I didn’t want to talk about it any more, she actually apologized and got interested in the topic. GO FIGURE. I’m not sure how the hell I actually managed to win an argument with her on this--refusing to talk?--but I need to repeat that in the future.
After that I wandered around midtown shopping--I was attempting to find a toy for my coworker whose dog died on Friday (yeah, another dead dog....sigh). I didn’t find the right thing then, but did the next day at Target. I also ended up going to the Goodwill there and discovered that’s apparently where all the drag queens shop because they had the biggest supply of giant high heels I have ever seen. I actually found a long green skirt, which I’ve been looking for for Christmas for like a year now.
After that I had a couple of hours to kill before going back to the Comedy Spot, so I went to eat at Crepeville. While I was in there, this girl who came in with THE SHORTEST DRESS I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE. Like she was a millimeter away from flashing cooter if she moved wrong, her dress BARELY covered her ass at all. This was of course worn with heels that she probably got at the Goodwill. I watched her walk very precariously across the room a few times, waiting to see if and how she’d end up flashing the room when she sat down. She very delicately moved her chair from facing the room to facing the window before she sat down, and she managed not to flash. I did watch some dudes watching her as she went across the room, though. Later I saw another girl in a similar ensemble. I don’t know how people manage.