Friday, October 10, 2008

Day 2: That happened

In my quest to become a better—or at least better informed—actor (and to get Jill’s Meisner jokes), I grabbed a few books on technique.

One was
Viewpoints, which I’d heard about from Rob Reese a long time ago. Turns out it’s hard to really understand theories of movement from a book. So I was pretty excited to find out that Dave had studied it and is heavily influenced by the “technique of improvisation that provides a vocabulary for thinking about and acting upon movement and gesture.” (Thanks, Wikipedia.)

The first thing he talked about when we got started was how wrapped up he’d been in the news, and with all the crazy going on, he wanted to “put goodness out there.” Yay. Sounds good so far.

Then we spent the day working on using Viewpoints to discover relationships on stage. With each other, the space, a chair. At one point, as he and Jill were talking very intently and very seriously about feeling compelled to move by something like the feeling of the air moving in the room, I thought “Man, this is such  bullshit.”

Which is when I realized this is
exactly what I need.

We’re breaking choices down into little bitty pieces—looking at scenes under a microscope, as Jill put it. Here’s Jill’s example:
“Ok, you readers have all been to the Toy & Miniature Museum in Kansas City unless you are asshats. In one exhibit is a pin, it just looks like an ordinary pin until you look through the microscope—then you can see an incredibly elaborate and detailed portrait of a family all on the head of the pin.”
(That was actually Jill typing that. Thank you, Jill.)

And the abstract stuff is uncomfortable. We didn’t use dialogue until the end of the day—then it was five lines:
How are you?
I’m fine, thanks.
Glad to hear it.

Everything we did slowed us down. Our choices became small and simple and ultimately much more meaningful, because everything was a response to something that had happened.

Which is what Dave said is the important thing to know about a scene: That
happened. Everything means something. Everything matters.

One of the things I love about really, really good improvisers is how economical they are—they use the whole buffalo. Nothing gets wasted. My attempts at using everything have been mostly about memorization. You know the exercise where there’s a lot of stuff on a table, and you look at it for 30 seconds then try to list everything you saw? That’s how I look at a scene.

With the Viewpoints work, the information sinks in, because it means more.

1 comment:

  1. I love your comments and observations and thoughts and excitement and vulnerability and self-judgment (not as much as those listed before that).

    I. Want. More. Too.



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