This week I went to a improv lesson put on my Steve from Hoopla which was all about a topic i adore doing lessons about – Character. From attending previous drop in lessons with Steve I knew that he is very much into the whole idea of characters in improv and was someone that I wanted to be taught by on the subject as his passion for it shines through when he does talk about it.
We started the lesson with a few warm up games – the first one was a game where we would say our name and then everyone would cheer and give you a round of applause. Once we had done this we then got into pairs to talk about a person in our life that has a great character and what makes them such a unique character. Once we had spoken about someone we knew, we then discussed in a group about their characteristics and what makes a good character in Improv and what physicality’s stand out.
We then started to create characters from random shapes that we formed with our body. We would change a physical appearance of our body – like an arm in the air or a leg bent and then walk around the room using that shape as a lead for a character. We would then add a voice to that character and talk to other people around the room as we all walked around it.
After a few warm up games we then started to do some scenes that specifically focussed on bringing a physical based character to a scene. The first thing we did was all about an interview with the HR of a company, each person would go outside the room and then enter the room as a completely different character that was defined by their physicality. Some people went for repetitive vocal noises, others used parts of their bodies and others had certain quirks. For a group of 15 it was amazing to see how different each and every character actually was. It was great fun seeing how each character acted with he straight person (the HR member) and it created some very good scenes.
We then played a game which had a lot of high energy. Someone would say a really simple sentence with no energy at all, something plain like – “I am OK” – once it went around the circle the idea was the give the sentence more and more energy and taking it to a really high limit of physicality and enthusiasm. It was a really fun game and created loads of energy.
After lunch we started off the lesson with lots of bad dancing – the music was turned on and the aim of it was to dance as badly as you possibly could. The final sort of scene work we did was all about the emotion that a character can bring instead of focussing only on the physicality. I did this game before with Shem and I think Will and it is quite a good one to develop characters but Steve did it in a completely different way which i really enjoyed. The game I am talking about is When Harry Met Sally and the couples in between meet how they met. When i did it with C3? it was all about not heightening the character and acting as realistic as possible.
With Steve, it was all about creating characters with emotion, the idea was to have a relationship with the partner in the scene and sort of react and play to each others emotions to create a scene. I really enjoyed playing it this way as it created a lot of humour to the audience and had a lot of really good comedic timing without trying very much.
I really enjoyed this weeks day lesson on Character, i felt that I learnt a lot as well as developing new ideas in the way to present a character in a scene.
Case study – Steve Roe, Hoopla
When I saw that Hoopla was doing a days lesson on the theme of Character I knew I had to go when I saw Steves name attached. I have been to a couple of drop in lessons with Steve before in the past and he has spoken about his love about character in comedy and I knew that being taught by someone with so much passion on the topic was going to be extremely fun and also very informative and educational. I was not wrong.
Steve is a fantastic teacher – he has such a different energy to everyone else on the improv scene in London – I can’t really explain it in words but its sort of like a bottle of lemonade that looks all still and calm at first but then when “shaken” up with improv it becomes a highly bubbly and insanely creative character.
The one thing that i really enjoyed about Steve as a teacher is his unique and really fun way of hosting a lesson – the silly little interlude games really kept the energy high the whole day and made everyone more “childlike” which is really important in improvisation and some lessons i have been taught haven’t maintained this high energy the whole way through. Sometimes, especially when you start developing more into the theory of improvisation it starts to become more serious about the art form instead of the fun that improv originally comes with.
Steve gives you great feedback and gives you a really in depth lesson about a topic at hand and I would highly recommend to go to a lesson with him if you are new to improv or just want more in depth understanding about a topic. He is a very strong name on the London Improv scene and it is not hard to see why he is the “London Godfather of Improv” (my words, not his!)