Today was the day of my workshop with Bill Arnett, and it was awesome. We delved into a ton of things about developing and embodying characters in just 2 hours that I can’t even fathom what an entire intensive with this guy would be like. This post isn’t going to be super involved since it’s late, but I am going to give the notes that I took from the class and maybe expound upon them some.
This weekend at Coldtowne Theater is another intensive that is being run by Bill Arnett from the iO Theater in Chicago. I highly recommend checking out his blog on improvisation which I have linked at the bottom of the page in my blogroll. Sadly I was unable to sign up for his entire workshop but I was able to get into his Saturday afternoon workshop entitled “Characters: Inside Out and Outside In” following is the description of the workshop:
“Am I playing a character or myself? How close to myself can I play
before it stops being a character? Are these questions even important?
This workshop will ask players to create characters by working outside
in and inside out and find confidence in their play. Strong play has a
strange habit of making those questions not matter.”
This is what I want to touch on in this post today, portraying characters onstage.
This past weekend I attended one of the most amazing workshops I’ve ever been a part of (which isn’t a lot but I know this one was really good). The 2nd Parallelogramophonograph Narrative Intensive. This workshop focused on longform narratives in improvisation. This is on the opposite end of the improv spectrum from my last post about short form game improv in that you are establishing a coherent story with a protagonist, plot, coherent growth and development of character, and (hopefully) a conclusion. While this is difficult to pull off when you are just thinking about it from a montage standpoint, there are some tricks and techniques you can use as an improviser to establish the storyline of the main character and help lead to their development and conclusion. Though we work to build a coherent story throughout the show, it is still improvised. There should not be anything decided already before the show begins. The establishment of the protagonist and the story should be completely organic. Following are some techniques we worked on in the intensive to help us establish who the protagonist is and what the story that we are trying to tell is about.
My first exposure to improvised comedy was, like I’m sure it was for a good many people, the show “Whose Line is it Anyway?” I wasn’t lucky enough to learn about the British version until a couple years later but I used to watch the American version every week. It blew me away that these people could be this hilarious while making things up off the top of their heads. I know a few of my fellow improvisers might look down on this show, but it holds a special place in my heart as being the kickstarter to my love of comedy, improv included. So many games are classic to me: Scenes from a Hat, Props, Sound Effects, there were times when I would be crying because I was laughing so hard (especially scenes from a hat, you need to check out some of the “best of” videos on youtube with those).
DISCLAIMER: I am a novice improviser, I have only been training in improv for 6 months or so. I do not claim to be an expert and I will probably get some facts wrong on this blog. Please bear with me and if you see something incorrect let me know so I can fix it, and learn.
Welcome to Improv Throwdown. This blog will basically consist of my musings on my travels through the crazy world of learning and performing Improvised Comedy. I’ll put up thoughts on classes, things that we learned in my classes, and let you know about upcoming performances and such. I might even post some sketches that I write and what not, but we’ll see.
Just a little info. I’m currently a Level 3 (almost Level 4) improv student at Coldtowne Theater in Austin, TX. I don’t pretend to be an expert on improv but I am completely obsessed with all forms of improv comedy (as well as sketch).
Just a disclaimer: anything posted on this blog is my opinion and my opinion only, I do not represent Coldtowne Theater or any other entity with which I perform or attend (does that make sense?)
Sorry this first post isn’t that funny, I promise to fix that to the best of my ability.
Well that’s it, post #1 is down, more to come soon.