Archive for May, 2011

Auditions in July!

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

We have auditions coming up on July 16, 2011.  To make it easier for players we are separating auditions into a Monday/Tuesday House Team audition and a Thursday House Team audition.  This way if you are on a Tuesday house team and you want to play on a Thursday house team, you just need to audition at the Thursday house team auditions.  If you are not available for Thursday or Monday/Tuesday nights, you pick the audition best suited for you.

This July, I will be adding members to both of the troupes I coach, The SansScript Players and MooCrew.  I often get asked what I look for when I am casting for my house teams.  When I add players to one of my groups, I look at them as people and players.  They need to be improvisers on stage and off.  This sets a tone for the group, show and the theater.

First I look at them as people; do they improvise in their interactions with me and others at the theater.  For example are they enthusiastic, fun, easygoing, “yes and”, interesting, adaptable, eager people?  Are they improvisers in their personal life and mind-set?  Do they see the world as a fun place filled with possibilities or are they a miserable person who kills ideas, operates out of spite and malice?  They most likely will bring this attitude with them to the show and the theater.

Then I look at them on stage; are they experienced enough to embody the rules of improvisation on stage too?  Are they having fun, are they entertainers (not just satisfied by simply playing on stage, they are only fulfilled by entertaining the audience), are they building and supporting everyone on stage, do they create energy, excitement and fun?

Both are needed for me to cast someone.  If someone is a self-serving, ego driven person in their personal life, but a great improviser; they may be great on stage, but cause so much damage to the group, show and theater off stage that it creates a difficult environment for everyone.  This attitude makes the group feel icky, then it creates discord in the show and eventually it can infect the entire community.

If someone is a natural improviser, but has not performed on stage enough to trust them when performing, this can affect the group too.  It can disrupt the team’s performance and then this brings down the show and has a negative effect on the theater as a whole.  I will cast people who are just about ready; people who are growing and moving forward on stage.  But the people who just don’t have enough hours on stage to be comfortable in their own skin, I will pass on this time but look for them later.

So, when I am casting for my groups I try to bring people into my groups who are 51% the embodiment of improvisation in their lives and 49% embodied improvisers on stage.  My job as a coach is to develop and push folks to do better on stage.  I can work with somebody who positive and struggling on stage.

If someone is an improviser on stage, but not off stage, I try not to cast this person.

If you are auditioning for us this July, break a leg!

Please remember, if you are adding a comment to our site please include the word “improv” in your comment.  I use this as a filter for the thousands of spam comments we get.

Thanks!

Happy Improv!

Eric

Edit-cation ~ Volume 1, Issue 7

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

It’s all about your “Edit-tude”

Remember, all edits must serve the scene that is on stage currently, not the scene we want to bring in from the sides.  The original scene is being shown to the audience for a reason.  It is up to the folks on the side of the stage to serve the scene with the edit.

What is “Edit-tude”?

Edit-tude is the attitude that you have about editing.  Everyone in your group needs to have the focus on taking care of each other first; taking care of the audience second and you are third (if you are coming in from the side with an edit).  In order to do this you must trust in yourself that you can jump out with nothing and it will be great.

How do I have a great Edit-tude?

When you are watching a scene and something is going wrong (e.g. there is no tension) you need to save the scene. This is the mind set everyone needs on the side.  If the scene is rocking and getting good laughs, there is a great connection and a location, STAY OUT! 

Being a good editor is like being a good fire fighter, the smaller the fire the easier it is to put out.  Fire in this case is something missing from the scene.  If the fire (bad scene) is allowed to go too long there is no fixing it, you just need to put it out.  The structure is damaged and you have to put it out (sweep).  Don’t enter a damaged scene unless you are sure you can save it.   If there is no fire (the scene is working) then you are like a fire fighter again; you are cooking chili, working out, posing for a calendar, what you are not doing is breaking into someone’s home where there is no fire. 

Edit-tude Examples:

John: I love the beach! 

Jennifer: I love the beach too!

John: I love it!

Player from the side enters: Hey John, you sure look good in your swimsuit. Sexy.

In the above example the player who ran in was trying to create tension between John and Jennifer.  If it is picked up on and played the scene goes forward.  If the tension is not picked up on someone else from the side should sweep.

Why should I Edit?

Because the scene needs help, change or an ending.  It should have nothing to do with you as a player, it is all about serving the scene.

Reasons to Edit?

My whole next blog (and many of the previous blogs) will be dedicated to why and what edits to bring.

Cautions:

If you are editing to take care of yourself the night is lost.  Like in “Freeze Tag”.  You must freeze when the scene needs it, not when you see a funny position to take.  Serve the scene and trust yourself to bring the funny.  You’ll do great.

Most edits should be done to be honest to the scene and not just to get a laugh.

Edits help us make are bad scenes short, make our rough scenes smoother and let our good scenes go until they come to an end.  This way, if we all have the same “Edit-tude” we are minimizing our bad stuff and maximizing our good stuff.  Maximizing our and our audiences enjoyment.  Have fun!

Happy Improv!

Eric

 

Edit-cation ~ Volume 1, Issue 6

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Life is a “Revolving Door”

Remember, all edits must serve the scene that is on stage currently, not the scene we want to bring in from the sides.  The original scene is being shown to the audience for a reason.  It is up to the folks on the side of the stage to serve the scene with the edit.

What is a Revolving Door?

A revolving door is a way of transforming a character on stage. It is initiated when the scene is doing something that causes the players on stage to change form.

  A player on the side runs out and trades places with the player being transformed.  The new player is now the same character (but transformed) and is in the  exact same time and place that the scene was in before the revolving door.  Think Clark Kent changing into Superman by spinning the revolving door really fast.  The time and place stay the same, but the character has changed.

How do I initiate a Revolving Door?

When a player on the side see a moment of transformation, the player runs out on stage.  They put them self back to back with the player being transformed.  The player hooks arms with the player on stage and spins a 180 with both players turning at the same time.  The player who ran in takes over the scene in the exact moment that the spin occurred (no time/space change). The player who is spun out runs off.  To transform back, just turn the revolving door again. 

Revolving Door Example:

John: Jennifer, I have been working on this “protein” shake.  I think you will like what it does to your body. 

Jennifer: Okay  (Jennifer drinks it. A male player runs in and does a revolving door)

Jennifer (new player): I love it!  Do I look hot?

In the above example the player who ran on to do the revolving door did so because they heard something on stage signal that a transformation is going to take place.

Why should I do a Revolving Door?

Revolving doors almost always get laughs and change the expectations and status quo of the scene. 

Reasons to execute a Revolving Door?

If the scene is a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde type of scene.  If the girl kisses the frog.  If there is a potion or a magic wand.  Anytime you want to show big changes in an instant.

Cautions:

  • Revolving Doors are rare.  Your scene partner may have no idea what you are doing the first couple of times.
  • The Revolving Door should be done to be honest to the scene and not just to get a laugh.
  • Like any edit where someone is removed from the scene, they player who left can come back at anytime if the scene calls for it.

Revolving Doors are fun and add to the wow factor of a scene.  Have fun with them!

Happy Improv!

Eric

Edit-cation ~ Volume 1, Issue 5

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Let do the “Time Jump” again!

Remember, all edits must serve the scene that is on stage currently, not the scene we want to bring in from the sides.  The original scene is being shown to the audience for a reason.  It is up to the folks on the side of the stage to serve the scene with the edit.

What is a Time Jump?

A time jump is a way of moving the scene either forward or backwards in time. A time jump is always initiated from inside the scene (the players already on stage in the scene). The time jump occurs when the scene on stage is not taking place in the present moment (talking about the future or the past).  One of the players takes a quick jump-step down stage and starts the scene in the new time.  This lets the other players on stage (and the audience) know that the scene has transitioned to the time we were discussing on stage.  After a time jump, the scene can live in that time or jump back to the present.

How do I initiate a Time Jump?

The player who realizes that the scene is talking about a different time can give an obvious verbal cue like “Oh I remember that…” or “I wonder what it will be like”.  Then they do a jump-step down stage and start in the new time.  If needed, the jumper can state the obvious to further aid the audience and fellow players, such as “I love it here in High School” (although this is not desirable).

Time Jump Example:

John: Jennifer, I can’t wait believe that you are going with me to prom.

Jennifer: Yeah, it should be interesting.  (Jennifer takes a jump-step down stage)

Jennifer: Oh, John I can’t believe you wore a purple tux!  Everyone is staring!

In the above example the player who time jumped heard that we were talking about a big event in the future and just decided to go there.  (The other option is to have an emotional reaction about what your partner is doing and change the status quo, thus making the scene about this moment.)

Why should I Time Jump?

Time jumps are one of the easiest ways to put the scene into a future or past moment.

Reasons to Time Jump

If you find that you are talking about a future event or past moment and you cannot make the moment that is unfolding in front of the audience matter then you should time jump.

Cautions:

  • Time jumps have to be done very abruptly.  If you move slowly down stage you might find your partner walking with you, which can negate the jump.
  • You don’t time jump when talking about someone else in a different time.  This type of situation would call for a tap out, entrance, split scene, etc.  Time Jumps should only happen when both players are in both times being portrayed, otherwise use a different edit.
  • Time jumps should only be done by the people in the scene currently.  If players not in the scene jump in front and take the scene to a new time it is difficult for the audience to understand that the two new players are the other characters in a different time. [This is a technique called “Scene on Scene”.  It is effective when ending scenes and starting new ones (for example on stage one of the players ends the scene with the line “That’s funny I have never been to a Dairy Queen”. The next scene starts in a DQ with two workers.]
  • Time jumps should not be called for from off stage.  It looks amateurish to have people off stage yell out things like “We take you too…”, or “”5 years later”.  I am sure with experienced players calling for these changes this would not bother me, but with newer players I get the feeling they are doing it to control the scene or to tell the players on stage to play faster.
  • Time jumps can also be played like tap-outs.  In that , you can jump to a point in time, give us some new information, jump back to the original scene and have the new information from the time jump influence the scene.

All in all, time jumps are handy if you are stuck talking about a past or future event.  If you remember that we are seeing this moment that you brought to the stage for a reason, you won’t have to jump often. Just play with the knowledge that this scene matters a lot.

Happy Improv!

Eric

Please remember, if you are adding a comment to our site please include the word “improv” in your comment. I use this as a filter for the thousands of spam comments we get.  Thanks!