Hello there campers and parents,
We are exited to be back after a short break following our wonderful weekly classes this past Winter and Spring.
Classes Start at 10am Monday Morning, June 29, 2015. We will be on site by 9am to receive early arriving students.
From 10am to NOON we will get to know each other, play some warm-up games and then dive in to improv technique and performance.
AT noon we will have lunch. The menu Monday is Subs, chips, and some sweet snack options. Tuesday will most likely be pizza.
At 1pm students will participate in a brief creative writing class followed by a chance to try out some original stories in front of class. By end of week these stories will be crafted into a stand-up comedy routine.
3pm Dismissal, but let us know and we will hang out as late as 5pm for pick-up
I will be joined by 1-3 assistants and other teachers daily to help organize and split into age groups. Here are a few things that may be good to review before attending. AND you can review with students
PS It’s not too late to register CLICK HERE
RULE #1 – Well we have TWO rule #1’s
WALTER’s RULE #1
– HAVE FUN but NEVER at someone else’s expense.
IMPROV RULE #1 “YES AND…”
In many ways these are the same thing. If we are always listening to our team mates and responding with supportive statements, we are engaging in YES AND… and Having fun without subjecting your team mates to mean or demeaning comments.
If a player (what we call actors/comics in Improv) says “LOOK AT THAT DOG” the absolute worst thing you could say is “NO, silly that’s a cat.” Instead of forwarding a scene we are now arguing over how we choose to define the imaginary space. TERRIBLY improv and horrible team support.
Instead we say, “YES, AND… he is pooping on my lawn. GREAT!” We do not always have to SAY “YES AND…” but we always think it and not just for words.
We say/think” YES AND…” to all choices spoken or pantomimed (like a mime, turning imaginary space into real objects, people, animals etc our characters can use and relate).
Anything else – SAYING NO in words or action – is a block. Blocking out scene partners shuts down a scene. While maybe funny for a quick laugh, we often miss the chance to build a great story and diminish a possible amazing pay off.
WORSE a block often makes our scene partners feel unsafe. Improv is not easy. BUT if we all support each other it becomes very easy to learn quickly. Negating our partners may not only destroy a great scene. BLOCKS can destroy confidence.
SO… our goal is to create an amazingly supportive and creative environment. Doing so will lead to amazing scenes, stories and stand-up comedy this week.
When in doubt, remember the basics! Making eye contact and playing to the audience is the plan. Here are some real simple tips to help you succeed and surpass all expectation…
FACE THE AUDIENCE
Play downstage (towards audience) center. Never stay upstage too long. Never leave stage / staging area. Never face away from audience.
When you are new to live performance, chances are what you think is normal will not be heard in the first row. You may feel like you are screaming. Send your voice and physical presence to the back of the theater. An acting teacher once told me, “Imagine you are 20 feet tall.” Imagine you are making eye contact and speaking intimately to someone in the back row. I like to imagine a balcony even in small theaters. UP AND OUT!!!
You will play a range of emotions as an actor and comic. BUT when in doubt share your biggest grin. People smile when you smile. Laugh when you laugh. OK I think I am quoting an old song now, but serious it works.
Whether, acting, singing, dancing or performing comedy, listening to your surroundings becomes most important to the overall performance. An artist is hyper aware of fellow artists on stage and the audience. The best performances of any kind have the artist listening and responding in real-time. Whether scripted or improvised, your characters are experiencing life without a script.
From the time you arrive at the theater for performance/rehearsal/class focus on the task at hand is extremely important. Take a moment of quiet time to sort out your own life. Prepare yourself to discover and rediscover your character (s) and material. Relax your breath. Stretch out your body. Do a few tongue twisters. Warm up your voice. Journal your thoughts. Be ready to rock!!! As you grow as an artist you will break these rules often on purpose. But always return to center!
SAFETY – more reasons to listen and focus
THEATERS can be a very dangerous place. And when we perform we are often using movements we are not used to in our daily lives.
LISTEN to your teachers / directors. Missing an instruction could lead to injuring.
Don’t do backstage unless
STORY TELLING 101
Whether we are improvising or writing original stories OR retelling real experiences, we need to remember the following.
EVERY STORY has a set of character that do things. In Improv we call characters WHO.
But beyond individual character WHO often is more interesting when we focus on the RELATIONSHIP between two characters. AS individual actors we put a lot of work into creating the physical, mental and emotional center of our characters. But when Improvising with your scene partners, the relationships between two or more characters drives a scene.
AND PLEASE – no giggling at the word “RELATIONSHIP” We are not just talking about boyfriend/girlfriend – and even if we are let’s be mature about that too. But brothers, sisters, moms, dads, bosses, teachers, restaurant/store employees, police, politicians and more all will interact with our characters. Focus on building and defining strong relationships. Defining a relationship in the first seconds of an Improv scene sets all players on the same page AND inspires imagination of both players and audience.
Every story has a setting. The WHERE in Improv refers to the location and everything you may find in that location, time, temperature and more.
Defining a strong where also gives players and audience a common place to build the story. Make a CHOICE in the first few seconds of a scene. As scene develops find ways to build the scene.
In Improv, your stage / staging area is a blank slate. Similar to a painters canvas you have a 3-d world to create. YES AND… extends far beyond words. YES AND… choices of WHERE. Don’t walk through a kitchen counter where your scene partner is preparing dinner. Pay attention and add your own details.
Every story has something that happens. There is a beginning, middle and end. In Improv we mostly focus on the MIDDLE of a story we call the WHAT. We often are not concerned to much with exposition. We establish WHO & WHERE and get right to the action of the story. While we finish at the height of a moment, we rarely see the true END of the story. The story of our characters started long before and end long after the short scene we display. SO don’t want to much time starting and end a scene.
MAKE BIG CHOICES
Establish the WHO & WHERE, agree as scene partners, add some details and MAKE THINGS HAPPEN. Action is far more interesting than talking about something that happened. Submerge yourself into the action. Make simple tasks LIFE or DEATH in dramatic meaning.
IMPROV TIP: PLAY THE DRAMA not the COMEDY
Trust yourself to be funny. So play your characters, relationships, settings and actions for real. If someone says “LOOK – SNAKE”, react with fear or similar REAL reaction to the danger. HEIGHTEN your senses and emotions. Play your scenes big. Over time you may be asked to pull it back because you are playing OVER THE TOP. But FOR REAL on stage is often BIGGER than real life.
Worse, too many play unreal to real stimulus. A player will create a real dangerous situation, only to be met with nonchalant response. While that can be funny in a brief moment it often stops a scene form becoming interesting.
MORE TO COME…
SEE EVERYONE BY 10am!!!