Thursday, July 9, 2015

Harold + genre, from scratch

This will be a long one, with some back story.

The first time I directed a Harold, I'd never seen one. A stand-up and improv comedian named Joey Novick who studied with Del Close in San Francisco happened upon our company, Lighten Up, and gave us these notes.

We taught straight from those. Later, I visited Chicago and saw ImprovOlympic perform (this was before they had their own theater) and fell in love. But teaching Harold work to a group that had never seen it was like giving a group a pile of parts and a picture of a car and saying "do that."

This next one will be much easier. Half my troupe has long-form experience, I have a hell of a lot more than I did when I started, and there's good longform work all over KC.

Annnnnnnd it's one I've wanted to direct forever: a Harold-based dystopian YA fiction piece, like Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Divergent, etc., etc.

I remember watching Silverado with my pal (and teacher) Rob Reese, and talking about how beautifully it hit the games/tropes of the Western genre. As the Harold was becoming more popular outside of Chicago, improvisers described it to their friends as being like Pulp Fiction (and the Deconstruction was Reservoir Dogs).

This will be my third go at directing a genre piece. The first was with the "younger troupe" (muuuuuch younger Jared included) in Lighten Up, and followed the structure of Reservoir dogs (down to a table in the middle of the audience where the cast would sit and talk). The second was an insanely controversial Thunderdome piece; Scriptease wanted to do an action-adventure movie, and I coached.

And now we're here. What's happened so far:
  • I started digging post-apocalyptic dystopian YA fiction after reading the Hunger Games trilogy. After reading a few more series, I wanted to improvise it. 
  • Jared and I made the case for ComedyCity to add long-form to our show schedule and troupe repertoire.
  • We held a couple of workshop/audition type things to figure out which cast got which troupe members. 
  • I've taken SO MANY NOTES and rewatched a bunch of stuff and read a lot of YA writers' blogs.
  • After a couple of unsuccessful attempts at a group watch party (stupid fighting cats and tornado watches), we finally met for the first time to talk through characters, themes, tropes, and games. And it was excellent. 
NEXT UP: Rehearsal calendar
Scribbles and notes and blurts.

I want the poster to be super-cheese-tastic. I sent this mockup to the cast so they'd know why I was asking them to send me full-body photos to turn into silhouettes. The name is set; the tagline is a work in progress.

1 comment:

  1. Welcome back! Great post!
    Looking forward to the new promising format.


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