Monday, May 26, 2008

Oh, the self-righteousness...

May's KC improv blogger topic: "Warm-ups before shows, good, bad, or indifferent?"

Well, I'm certainly not indifferent. 

I think you owe yourself, your troupe and your audience two things before the lights go up: You're in the moment and you're in synch with the group. Whatever it takes to get there. 

For yourself, it means you've dropped whatever baggage you brought with you to the theater. You're ready to focus out—on your fellow players, on what's happening in the scene—instead of in. You're physically and mentally prepared to do the show. 

For your troupe, it means you check in with each other. You let each other know what it takes to get you on the same wavelength—and you're willing to work together to get there. 

That's my philosophy. Here's what works for me—and doesn't. 

Good: Anything physical, playful and emotional. 
  • I want to get stupid with my troupe before we get on stage—so warmups that take us to Goofyland make me the happiest.
  • I also need to shrug off the need to be a grown-up and make reasonable, measured choices, so getting out of my comfort zone and letting down defenses helps put me in the right frame of mind.
  • Figuring out my place in the group mind before we go on stage is helpful, so listening and focus games = good. 
Bad: Anything thinky, moody or mind-numbing. 
  • Word-play and elimination-style games put me right up in my head. Rhyming and puns, Bippity-Bippity-Bop, that kind of stuff—YEOWCH. (But if it works for my team...then screw it. I'll have fun.)
  • Here's a way to turn yourself into the person no one wants to play with: Bring your drama into the warmup. There's no room for negative energy before a show. 
  • And good grief, people who drink before a show make me nervous. And it's not because I'm a Girl Scout: 
"Alcohol is classified as a depressant because it slows down the central nervous system, causing a decrease in motor coordination, reaction time and intellectual performance."
Indifference to warm-ups strikes me as selfish and unprofessional. I've seen too many troupes who refuse to warm up do shows that don't kick in until the second act. I don't pay to watch a band do a soundcheck...or a football team do pre-game I expect to see a troupe hit the stage ready to go. 

Um. So there.


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Now c'mon. Pick a fight.