Deconstructing the Deconstruction

Sorry It’s been so long since my last update. Ever since school (work) started back up I haven’t had any time to write what with driving 45-50 minutes to and from work every day on top of doing my Level 5 stuff at Coldtowne and what not. Oh yea, I’m in Level 5 now, one more level to go until I am a Coldtowne Conservatory Graduate. I am extremely excited about that let me tell you.

So, we have been spending two days so far on the Deconstruction format and though this is not a rewriting of my notes from that class (that will come later as we finish it up) I do want to write some thoughts on this format.

I really enjoy this format. It challenges you as an improviser in a variety of ways. Pulling information back from the first Source Scene when you are 5-6 scenes in takes a lot of work and practice, but when you can do it it really makes for something special in the scene. I really enjoy trying to keep the first Source Scene as grounded and “real” as possible. To me that is fun in a “I get to really act” way (not that improv isn’t acting, but you know what I mean). It really lets me explore my character in a different way than doing 2 minute montage scenes or even a Movie or La Ronde. There is something infinitely emotional when you get an entire 5 minutes to become someone and really get inside their thoughts and feelings to bring those out to your scene partner and the audience. It’s almost organic in a way.

Following the Source Scenes are the two character based tangential scenes. These are awesome. The other performers can give you so much information in just the 2 minutes they are on stage it can really be overwhelming at times, but it just gives you that much ammo when coming back to the Source Scene the second time. It’s so much easier to heighten a character trait when you have already seen it done before you. It’s almost like paint-by-numbers improv.

I think the Deconstruction is my favorite format that we have learned so far. I can’t place what it is about it just yet. Maybe it’s the fact that I feel our class as a whole is getting it really well, maybe it’s something more than that. I don’t know yet, I just know I like it.

Footnote-I promise to update this blog more. In the last few months I’ve realized that I don’t want a life without improv/sketch, that would be a dark life for me, and I want to share my love of these art forms with my reading audience (which now is probably like 3 people…hi Allison sweetie). Anyway, notes from our Deconstruction class and from my group scene workshop I took with Eric Hunicutt are to come soon.

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Friends, Fun, Community

This will be a slightly different post from my previous ones, it also won’t be exceedingly long like my previous ones.  My notes from the Eric Hunicutt workshop will come tomorrow.  No picture because I couldn’t find one that would do this post justice.

The last 8 months have been a completely different feeling from anything I’ve done in my life to this point.  No, I’m not talking about getting married, that is on it’s own pedestal of amazing things that nothing else in my life will ever touch.  I’m talking about what my life has been like since I began taking improv classes at Coldtowne Theater in Austin.

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Bill Arnett notes pt. 2 plus other things.

Coming up next, the conclusion to my notes that I took during the Bill Arnett character workshop from a few weeks ago.

Of someone says something stupid, bust them on it.

I love this thought process.  Now, he’s not saying to deny what someone is telling you, on the contrary, he’s telling us to accept the reality of what was said but if it is something crazy call the person on it.  This is especially true if you are playing the “straight man” in the scene.  EX: “Let’s wear our underwear on our heads and our hats on our crotches!”  “Why would I do that?  That’s just weird.”  “Because it will keep our hair from chafing!”  “Ok…”  Basically, call out the ridiculousness of what’s happening, but you can still give your scene partner the benefit of the doubt and support them (Lance Gilstrap does this amazingly well at Coldtowne).

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Characters: Inside out and Outside in-Part 1

 Get it…they’re Disney characters!

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.

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How many versions of “Me” can I play?

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.

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Longform Narrative Improvisation

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.

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