Thursday, July 23, 2015


Not a whole lot of talking in this one.

Our third rehearsal was about group work and bonding. Even though we all play in the same troupe, ComedyCity's cast is huge—which means some players barely know each other.

And that calls for super-physical and emotional stuff. YAY. What we did:

1. Group choice warmup. I kind of like letting groups warm themselves up (One of my favorite teachers does this by saying, "I'm shitty at warmups. You guys get yourselves ready.") It's a great way for them to get to know each other, play with leadership, and get warmed up the way they want to. So I asked for three volunteers and told them to go.

2. Viewpoints work. I want this Harold to be big and physical and brave—no danger of people standing like an 11 talking about things instead of doing them. So the first part of the rehearsal was just choosing different ways of moving through the space, and letting them affect each other.
  • Topography: Players moved on grids and in circles, playing with size (tiny grids, big loops), tempo, and spacial relationships to each other. 
  • Architecture: Players decided a physical or emotional relationship to the tangible pieces of the room—walls, tables, floors, etc.—and explored the characters that resulted. 
  • Shape: Players shaped their bodies differently and moved through the space...
  • Repetition: ...and then found a gesture to repeat...
  • Tempo: ...and then played with increasing and decreasing the speed...
  • Duration: ...and how long they repeated or held the gesture.
  • Spacial relationships: Then we basically played Attacker-Defender, experimenting with the distance between players.
Maggie was distressed when Sebass got in the way of her relationship with the stools.
This was mostly about building a toybox...getting them to think of different ways of relating to the space and each other. It's also about making physical choices, which can lead to more surprising emotional and verbal moves.

3. Caligula. I love this exercise created by Susan Messing. It seems simple—move around the stage, making sure you stay in physical contact with the rest of the group. And at first, the movements and connections were pretty basic.

Basic hand-holding. Nothing to worry about here.

This is where the cast starts to get comfortable with each other. 

4. Music and Emotion. Because we're doing a movie genre based piece, I added a soundtrack. A lot of my side-coaching came from work Rance Rizzutto taught at The Improv Retreat. The Caligula exercise continued, but players allowed the music to affect their emotions and movements and relationships.

I believe the extended theme from The Walking Dead was playing.

And the love theme from Titanic.
Jimmy learns to trust everyone.

Before we open, we'll work on lifts and falls and carrying other players, so they know how to cue each other, and the person being lifted can feel in control.

In this whole rehearsal, there were no words exchanged on stage or during the exercises—just in the debriefs. But here's what the players said at the end:
  • It felt like we had real relationships. 
  • It broke down any awkwardness between us. 
  • I knew no one would drop me. 
  • I felt supported. 
  • I had a responsibility to take care of everyone. 
  • Different ways of touching led to different emotions.  
  • The emotions were stronger—when you can't use words, you can't bullshit.
I love that last one. I want us to create a piece about intense relationships, and the combination of trust, physicality and music got us there fast. I'm not sure yet how this work will show up in DIFFERENT, but I can see it being pervasive. We'll look at ways for it to influence edits and group games, as well as making our stage pictures interesting and helping us with strong focal points.

Other stuff: 
We discussed wardrobe for different. Basically, I want them to wear all black—but beyond that, the only restriction is "cover your knees." They have to be able to move without worrying about things riding up or falling out as they leap, crawl, roll, and get thrown around the stage. We'll also look at some way to differentiate roles—buffs, scarves, temporary tattoos, something like that.

Love this cast. So much.

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