This week was a very exciting one at Punders HQ as we got to have some coaching from the wonderful Suki Webster. With the show just around the corner we really wanted to get a professionals perspective of how we can improv some of the games that we have created and get some sort of direction as to how we can develop the games so that they work even better in front of an audience.
Coaching With Suki Webster
We played the games first that we wanted Suki to see so that she had an understanding as to what sort of style we do and then after this she gave us feedback which was really helpful and also helped us develop the games as well. The one thing that we learnt from this is that as a group we start a lot of conflicts in scenes – we didn’t even realise we are doing it and that has helped with the scene work as she taught us an exercise in which we now use a lot when we feel it is going this way.
Another thing that we learnt was that we need to develop on giving introductions to the games so that it is clear to the audience to understand what they are about to watch. We are so used to reading the information out to the audience on cards that we now have to get used to describing the games to people verbally.
One of the things that the coaching with Suki really did was help us to refine some of the new games that we have been testing out and help us sort of have an aim for them. The one thing that we have discovered with a lot of our new games is that they have music as part of them so she gave us a few technical exercises to help us sing better as a group and how to warm up doing that. That included doing a circle of song where we sing a song on a topic and each of us takes a verse and of us makes us the chorus.
It was so great to be taught by Suki this week – she is a great person to have as a coach and I feel that as a troupe we learnt a lot from her this week that will help us grow and progress together.
This will be really short this week because we cover a lot of this above in Suki’s coaching. In rehearsal this week it was all about focussing on the notes we were given and trying to make all of the games stronger. We played through the musical games again and tried to work out what we needed to do for the show in April.
This week at the Character course with Sue Harrison we focussed on the world of status. This is a topic that you tend to cover a lot in improv when you do lessons and it is not really my favourite, however this time some of the games I have played so many times were taught in an entirely different way.
The first game that we played after warm ups was the game I have played so many times in lessons about status and that is the number game. Every one is given a number in regards to how high they are in status and they don’t tell the others what their number is. They then go into a party style scene and then have to react people in regards to what they think their status is or what your own one is. Everytime that I have done this game it has been done with everyone in the room involved and sort of to make a point; with Sue it was more focussed on sort of creating a scene with half of the room entering one by one.
I really liked the way that Sue addressed this game as it was different to the normal ways I have played it and I enjoyed it this way because you saw a real narrative starting to form and it didn’t rely on just the party situation.
The next game we played I remember doing it in Newcastle and it is all about impressing the queen. Each person will come on and try different ways to impress the queen so that they are not killed. The aim of the game is to see where others went wrong however there is no winner – everybody loses. It is a great game where you learn more about all the different things that make a status.
The final thing that we did this week was scenes where each person starts with one status and by the end of the scene their statuses have altered and changed. It is always fun to watch and play as it creates some interesting scenarios.
Case Study: Suki Webster
I felt it was only right to make Suki Webster the case study of this week because I feel that we learnt so much from her this week. I have been taught by Suki so many times in the past and actually being coached by her was a different experience but it was a fantastic one.
I really liked being coached by Suki because she really highlighted things that as a group we didn’t even realise that we did. For example, we didn’t realise that we created conflicts in scenes and from having one person who is a professional watching us it really helped us have an idea on what areas we need to work on moving forward.
It was a great idea having a coach come in around the time of us creating new ideas and games because the idea of re-defining and pinpointing how we can make them better was really useful and gave us more of an idea as to what we should be doing to make them audience friendly.