Improvisation

 

Wednesday 7th September 2016

In my blog post for Wednesday 7th September 2016 you can see that we had our first lesson on improvisation. This was mainly done through the means of improvisation games such as freeze, which began to get us used to coming up with our own concepts on the spot at a high-speed. It also encouraged us to work with the other people in our class and to accept and build on their ideas. We also discussed any experience we had with improvisation and its uses in acting. As I have previously been in an improvisation show at the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmund’s I was able to share my experience. It was also interesting to learn how you can use improvisation in scripted pieces too, such as if another actor forgets their lines you can say phrases to prompt their line with subtlety. I’m looking forward to developing techniques to help with improvisation and today’s lesson gave us a good foundation of things to come.

Wednesday 28th September 2016

In our improvisation lesson with Erica we started by talking about the stereotypes that our names have and how just the name itself has associations to physical characteristics even if they aren’t always true of a person with that name. The group said that my name ‘Thalia’ connoted sophistication and some people even said food. We then had to create a new drink in pairs and Karolis and I came up with ‘Perfita’. It stands for perfect and has Baileys, hot chocolate, cinnamon and cookies in it. These tasks got us thinking creatively as this is really important in improvisation as you have to be imaginative and think quickly with what ever comes to mind. We extending this onto making short devised pieces from a stimulus given to us by Erica. My group got give a safety talk about clouds. You can see what we came up with bellow. We based it on public safety announcements and how robotic they can be. This helped us at realising that dominant ideologies and stereotypes are really useful for improvisation as they make a piece more relatable and also this can be funny.

Thursday 29th September 2016

In Lynn’s character lesson we started by doing an improvisation activity called turn left. I had previously done this with youth theatre and even used it in between a show at the theatre royal. It is an activity where you stand in a square formation with a group of three other people. You get told a scenario or character to act with the person to your left and a different one with the person on your right. When someone says turn left you do and change the scene to be the one with the next person. Its a really fun activity that helps to develop improvisation skills as you’re thinking fast on your feet and what you create is completely done on the spot. For the first one I took part in I was given the location of ‘the outback’ so I adopted an Australian accent which immediately helped me to get into character. After that I used the stereotypes of Australia to get a comedic effect as its understood by everyone watching. Another turn left I took part in I had the stimulus of a parents evening which I had to do with Justin. It was really fun to do as we over exaggerated and made an unrealistic scene which large characterisation. The last turn left I did was a safety aeroplane sketch with Ryan that really built of the stereotypes of aeroplane safety videos. I have found that quickly finding the stereotypes from a stimulus in improvisation and either exaggerating or mocking them can be really funny and such a useful starting place. This is what Erica had started to introduce the day before so it was good using her advice with a positive response from the group. To see how this improvisation activity also helps with characters see my blog entry.

 

Wednesday 5th October 2016

Today we looked at anthropomorphism and giving inanimate objects human characteristics.hoover We looked at the Henry Hoover sets if they were humans and how their names, shape, eyes and colour gave us ideas as to what they would be like. Our group decided they were a family and that ‘Henry’ was the standard father figure as he is the most common of the hoovers. We decided the pink ‘Hetty’ hoover was his teenage daughter who would be very girly and flirtatious, from the eyelashes and pink colour. The ‘James’ hoover we thought would be the young attention seeking toddler who thought he was really useful as his yellow colour and small shape gave off this impression. The blue hoover ‘Charles’ we assigned as the great grandfather as he had a taller shape which we took as higher status in the family tree. We also thought that he would be the posh and intellectual member of the family. Finally was ‘George’ hoover who from his small shape and green colour we devised the idea that he was the annoying uncle who like to talk about trains. We also assigned him a naisle voice and hunched stance to go along side this. After this practice of turning inanimate objects into people we then looked at some other normal everyday objects and characteristics we associated with them. Our group specifically got a mop, tin foil and a makeup compact. The makeup compact we decided would be a very fake person, sassy, fancy, feisty and pretty. For the tinfoil we suggested that as a person they would crumple easily and be a fragile person. The mop we decided would go unnoticed as they are soft and boring. After coming up with these concepts we then devised a short piece which put these three characters together. Bellow is our result:

Wednesday 12th October 2016

Today I attended the student representative conference so unfortunately I missed my lesson with Gary and script work however I finished it in enough time so that I could have the lesson on improvisation with Erica. We looked at inanimate objects again, but this time around focused on specific locations for our scenes to take place for example:

  • a handbag
  • a sewing kit
  • fruit bowl
  • first aid kit
  • under the kitchen sink

The location that my group was given was the handbag, from this we chose our objects. I decided that I should be a shed door key, Justin had a desire to be a condom and Eren chose to be a phone. The reason we chose these objects was because these were common things that most people can relate to having in their handbags. For the phone character we decided to have him always awake and buzzing to represent the characteristics of a phone. For the condom we chose for him to be strong and highly into safety. Finally, for my character of the shed door key we decided that I should play her as stupid. The plot for our piece consisted of the key character getting dropped into the wrong compartment and the other two character’s displeasures at her arrival. We also added some small touches such as Eren’s phone character having to leave our scene as realistically phones are taken out of handbags on a regular basis. I’m enjoying looking at inanimate objects and I’m developing my skills and hoping that progress will be shown.

Wednesday 19th October 2016

In improvisation we carried on the work we were doing on inanimate objects. This time we worked on creating a whole group piece with the location of a fridge. We said that depending on the persons status, gender and dietary requirements varies what people have in their fridges. We took this idea and developed a thought that we could have a vegan girlfriend moving in with her meat loving boyfriend. This created conflict between fridge items and became a good out line for a plot. We then created characters that already lived in the boyfriends fridge which included beer, meat and a lonely tomato that fell out somewhere. We also created the girlfriends food which included soy milk, vegan cheese and kale. We took these characters and planted them in the scenario of the girlfriend moving in and came up with small improvised scenes on how they reacted to the new food items. To finish we also had a few rounds of turn left which I always enjoy as it allows you to be very creative and also to help you think quickly and improve on comedy skills.

Wednesday 16th November 2016

Today we had our Improv auditions for the ‘Christmas Improvability’ performance. This show is made up company of short improvised activities, that are put on for a paying audience, providing entertainment whilst they eat. For the auditions we stated by all playing freeze nominate, where you create an improvised scene and then someone calls out freeze and the action becomes frozen, then the person who called freeze, names another person who is then nominated to go and take up one of the frozen characters position and start a new scene. The other person has to be adaptable and able to accept and build to create the new scene effectively. This was a really good exercise to show who was willing to really go for it and commit to the scenes. After this, we played questions only, where we had to talk using only questions. This tested who was quick thinking and was something I think that I did really well on. The final round of the improvisation auditions required us to use the alphabet to create a conversation on the spot. I was paired with Will and we were given the scenario of a first date. We managed to get through the whole alphabet seamlessly and I am happy with how we were able to create a full on scene that made sense. I am glad with my efforts in the improvisation auditions and am glad to say that I will be in the show. Hopefully being in an improvisation show will really help me confidence wise and also develop my on the spot quick thinking and also give me some time to work in comedy.

Friday 18th November 2016

Karolis, Ryan, Brayden, Faye and I, were selected to take part in an RAF improvisation day. The day is designed to help the RAF train in how to deal with different situations and problems people may be facing. We were all given a scenario to act out, with a character, a back story and the reason in which they are talking to the RAF group. I was playing someone who was severely home sick and found it really hard making friends and fitting in. We had interviews in character about what was wrong and they had to treat it as if it was real and find out a way to help. I did my character improvisation to two separate groups and both went really successfully and I think the whole experience was really beneficially to both parties. They appreciated us going in and we got to improvise realistic characters and got some experience of how improvisation can be used in real life situations. I learnt a lot from the day and it has made me more confident with improvisation, I would really like to do more of this in the future. It also helped me realise that improvisation doesn’t always have to be for comedy. Normally when someone tells me to improvise a scene, it usually ends up a comedy but this experience has shown me the value of realistic serious improv.

Wednesday 7th December 2016

On Wednesday 7ths blog, you can see that we spent our lesson with Gary, focusing on improvisation. We got into pairs and first were set the challenge to talk to the other person without pausing for an extended amount of time. Some of the group found this difficult as they went dry and couldn’t think of things to say. Then in those same pairs Gary took one from each pairing and gave them an objective. Then he took the other people in the pairings and gave them an opposing objective. They were to have sex with the other one and also that they hated the person and wanted to get away from them. We also had the added element that Gary would clap and we would then have to turn up the intensity of how we achieved our objectives. We also tried the same tasks but only being physical or using voice. I found voice harder and physical easier especially when playing the role of liking the other person. I used leaning in, touch and contact, sitting on my partners lap and eye contact to my advantage.

Friday 9th December 2016

We spent our day rehearsing different improvisation activities so we were more prepared for the Christmas Improvability show which was tonight. I ended up partaking in questions only, random lines, the alphabet game, the interrogation game, worlds worst, scenes from a hat and experts. It was such an enjoyable experience and im so glad that I got to be involved in so many different activities. We had a really positive audience response and it was really good being able to work with so many different people who, otherwise I may not have had the chance to work with. The show allowed us to showcase everything we had learnt about improvisation this year. We had to be quick witted and ready to do anything.

Thursday 15th December 2016

Another show that I performed in was the Christmas Haughley Barns show. You can see on my blog for December 15th, that one of the performances in which I was a part of, was the improv section. We did a round of turn left using suggestions provided by the audience. I had a film noir scene with Tom where we were playing a married couple, and the a scene with Karolis where we had to be scottish and include kilts. We used comedic timing,  dominant ideologies, stereotypes and accent to our advantage. It was the best recieved improvisation performance I have been a part of yet. I will remeber to take the element of comedic timing and building off the dominant ideologies in imporvisation in the future. I also really think that Tom, Karolis, Lauren and I bounced off each other well and the audience loved the energy we had as a small group.

Wednesday 1st March 2017

In improv we talked to Erica about an idea we had yesterday for our up coming commission. We had wondered if we could have an improvised section of our performance, where we do improvisation segments and activities, all of which are inspired by art. She really liked the idea, so we decided that we should test out the idea to see if it is something that could work. We took the improv exercise ‘Random Lines’ and then set the pieces and had characters which were inspired by art. It was very comedic with the lines which were out of context and I think that the idea had great potential. However it did flag up that we would need to know a lot more about art and its history with the different time periods and figures. This could be difficult, especially in the short time frame and with so many different artists existing. A way in which we could get around this, is having certain artists and time periods already chosen in a hat, so that we at least knew the basis of what we would be asked to improvise. Hopefully we will be able to include some form of improvisation in our commission as it is an element of performing in which I enjoy a lot and am eager to improve.

Wednesday 7th March 2017

You can see in my blog post for the 7th March 2017, that in improvisation, we did several improv games to prepare the class for the improv show next friday, which some of us will be in. We first played questions only, which is a possible game for the performance and is one of my favourite improvisation games. I also think it is one that I am relatively good at. As the title of the game suggests, you can only talk through questions. It is a fast paced game where you have to think quickly and be ready to run in as soon as someone fails to think of a question. There is  also the added difficulty of trying to make the questions relevent to the scene and also your character. It involves a lot of thinking and you have to be able to react to what the other person is saying, just as you would in any other improvisation. We then played freeze nominate, which is one that could potentially be put in the imporvisation show. I found this game harder today as I found it difficult to think of any inspiration for scenes or characters. Although this is the case I still learnt a lot and I really liked what Liam did in by coming up with the pirate character. This worked particularly well as its such an instantly recognisable character, with lots of scene options. I learnt that when you are doing an improv scene, such as in freeze nominate, the ones that work the best are those with clear and instantly recognisable characters beacuse it makes it easy to build of stereotypes to come up with content to perform. We then ended the session by playing the interrogation game. In this game there are two detectives who have to come up with puns on the spot, to alert the accused murderer of who they killed, where and with what. It’s a really fun game that resembles cludo. You do however, have to have a wide range of general knowledge and work well with the other detective. It can be one of the harder improvisation games to do, but is still good fun.

 

 

 

 

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