Improv Diaries – Aura, Status and Heading Into Battle [Case Study – Richard “Richie” Richard]

It is coming towards the end of rehearsals for our next huge show so this week we have been diving down into the world starting to get as much as we can prepared for the show ahead.

We started the rehearsal off by doing one of our favourite warm ups King Of The Jungle where each of you are an animal and have to sort of remember everyones character in fast pace and whoever messes up goes to the bottom of the pack.

The main aim of this weeks rehearsal was to make sure that we start getting everything ready for the show so we did a run through of the games and started to divide ourselves into two teams to test out a new format to see how going to battle works. We now have two teams, red which I am the captain of and Blue which James is the captain of.

This week was a really interesting one in the world of acting lessons as well. I have studied status a number of times with improv but approaching it from an acting perspective was absolutely fascinating. It in some ways made me think about it more as a character and not just as a thing.

We first of all re-visited the world of allowing different parts of the body to lead us when we walk. We then did the same exercise but this time when we walked round the room some of us would remain eye contact whilst others would look away as soon as someone looked at them. It was really interesting to see the different impact that it had from both ways. When you kept eye contact you felt powerful and cocky, when you didn’t remain eye contact you felt weak, nervous and timid. Hence creating status.

The important thing about acting is to walk with your chest leading – it creates power on stage and shows you know what you are doing and why you are there. Certain actions can also create status on stage, for example, if you had a beard and you touched it in an arrogant manner you have high status. If you touched your beard in an uncertain way and constantly it automatically lowers your status. It is the same as if you cross your arms on stage or fidget.

Another really interesting ideaology is aura and that status is lowered when you enter someones area of their personal aura. Most people tend to find it more comfortable being side on from someone they don’t know then in front of them because they are equal. The moment they enter the persons ‘aura’ face forward it effects the dynamic altogether and can create a dominating situation. The same for when someone approaches you from behind, it can create a sense of fear to the person in front of them.

We then played the game where you have a number but you are not sure what it is and you guess where you are in status depending on the way people react to you. After this we played a game where you and your scene partner try what happens if you are both high status, both low status, then if you switch halfway through and if you are balanced status. I have done a few of these exercises before but the ones that I have not it was really interesting and really interesting.

Case Study – Richie, Bottom

When I was thinking about who to use as a case study for status there was only one person that came to mind and I know that I have spoken about Rik Mayall before on this subject but he is so amazing at creating characters with status that I had to talk about him again. There are so many characters i can list of his that play with status (Rick the Young Ones, Lord Flashheart in Blackadder II and Alan B’Stard in The New Statesman).

One of his most iconic roles is none other than Richard Richard from the comedy sitcom Bottom and it is a role that has so much great comedy due to the status around this character that it is a fascinating one to watch.

The thing I love about Riks character in Bottom is that his character is very low status but he plays it that he believes he is high status and when he fails, which is a lot of the time, the status change is hilarious and really works very strongly. Just look at some of these clips below 

 

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