This week I had to change what day I did improv training as the wonders of my lovely train service are having hundreds of strikes at the moment and wouldnt be able to attend in the week because of this. So I prepaid to go on a Saturday this week and was also to be my last improv lesson of the year as i am going on holiday this week and won’t be back until the new year (just like this article) going to have a break now until 2017. I woke up on the day of the lesson feeling rough. We had a Television event at work the past week and it was pretty intense and i think the amount of hours and work that we did was coming out as a cold / feeling run down so I went to this lesson not feeling 100%.
Now in the past, I have discovered that not feeling in the mood for Improv or feeling upset or in the wrong frame of mind can sometimes have a positive effect when performing as you give the scene your all and thats what i tried this weekend even though inside i was feeling awful and wanted to be curled up in bed.
This Saturday I was being trained by a different member of the Maydays called Liz. (if you remember when I first moved to London I was trained by Jules but never had a chance to go back as Wednesdays are a bad day for me) and the instant i met her I really liked her as a teacher but more about that later.
We did a lot of the same warm ups that I have done with Stephan the past few weeks, the singing game where someone sings in the middle of the circle, the pattern game, the zip zap boing etc. We also played a favourite of Bev and Ians from Newcastle the Bomb and Shield game where you pick someone as your shield that has to be between you and your bomb.
The first exercise we did was similar to the status game we always used to play in Newcastle where you are at a dinner party with a number of how high status you are. Instead this game you had to choose one person you would kill, another marry and another that you would lust over. This was to get used to the three dynamics that make up any improv scenario one of these will always be the underlying function of the scenes etc.
We then put these into scenes where two of us would act out a scene three times with one of these emotions attached to it. For me I had to get out of paying for a ticket using Anger, lust and negotiation which to me i found pretty easy to do. From playing one scene three emotions for nearly 9 months in Newcastle, I know for a fact that with emotion games I can ace them and you just have to keep accepting and upping your game every time. I have playing this game many times with Peff and Karl to know how to ace at this type of game.
The second time we played it we both had to think of an emotion out of the three that we wanted to go into the scene with and not tell the other person and then see what happens. I choose to go in with Anger/Dislike into a bar scene whilst my college was doing everything they could to help me and make me like them.
It was a really interesting and fun lesson but I really wish i felt a hell of a lot better then i actually did.
Case Study 1 – Liz Peters
Liz was the tutor this week and was a great one at that and someone who I hope to train again under in the future. She is part of the improv group the Maydays plus does many more improv and performance based shows.
As soon as I met Liz I instantly liked her as a teacher because she is fun bubbly and has a zazzy attitude about her that is optimistic and really excitable she is like a jumping bean and pumping the energy into all the improvisers that she meets. I really liked the way that she taught improv as well as having a fun and entertaining side she was also really insightful and extremely good at educating even the advanced improviser.
I really hope that in the future I get to be trained by Liz again because in a short period of time I learnt a lot from her.
Case Study 2 – Blackadder
This week Blackadder is a case study because it came to mind when I was doing the final scene of that day the one in the bar. For me, whenever i am doing scenes that involve emotion or physical activity, either Rik Mayall, Lee Evans or Rowan Atkinson will pop into my mind and this week it was his character from Black Adder, the man himself.
I was reading a while ago when I wrote an article on Mister Bean that Rowan uses B as a main letter in a lot of his comedy because he has a speech impediment which means that he cannot pronounce that letter the right way and always over pronounces it. This was one of the things that made his Black Adder character so iconic was the way that he pronounced the word Bob.
In this scene that I did in the bar I deliberately made the P at the end of Yep pop so that it had an effect on the type of character that I was trying to be. It got the biggest laugh in the scene and made an impact as it was brought up in later scenes as a laughing point.
This year has been a great year for improv and i look forward to seeing what 2017 has in store!