Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cut back...

I realized I never really got to the "mixed" part of my feelings about movie edits and scene painting.

Yes, at times, I find them incredibly frustrating. I wish I could see them as gifts no matter what, but I don't.

On the other hand, sometimes a player paints a scene and takes it from ordinary to perfect. Or confusing to brilliant.

Naming the setting or location can ground a scene and help everyone imagine exactly what it feels like to be where the characters are. Describing the set or a prop can provide the detail that takes the action to the next level.

Years ago, at the third Spontaneous Combustion (now the KC Improv Festival), Rob Reese (who sparked our tradition of having three featured directors creating shows with a member of each performing company) asked Armando Diaz, his director, for advice going into the show. He knew Rob was a powerful player and that many in the cast didn't have much long-form experience, so he told Rob "Do just enough."

That's what scene painting should be. Just enough. The scene is never about the environment, the set, the props or the costumes—so scene painting should be just enough to ground, elevate or clarify.

Until you get good at it.

Then you can play with it. And if you're playing with a bunch of other improvisers who know what they're doing and you all trust each other completely, you can SERiously fuck with it.


  1. Tell me more about this tradition... " of having three featured directors creating shows with a member of each performing company"

  2. For the last few years of the fest, participating troupes performed on Thursday and Friday, and our Saturday show was directed by three world-class director/teachers. They'd work Friday and Saturday with one member from each performing troupe to put the show together:

    #3 (at the Folly): Del Close, Mick Napier, Armando Diaz
    #4 (at the Heartland): Same 4
    #5 (at WCH): Rob Reese, Joe Bill, Jeff Wirth
    #6 (at WCH): Rebecca Sohn, Dan O'Connor, Armando Diaz

    Or do I have those last two flipped? Hmmmm...

    Anyway, we elected not to do it when we brought the fest back because too many other festivals had started doing the same thing.

  3. Since the rebirth of the KC festival, I always thought it would have been a neat to do this again, but instead have 3 local improvisers direct shows on the final night of the festival.


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