Whether you do short form, long form, organic or experimental improv, the one thing you should really think about is the ending of your set or show. Whether it is your own show, a 10 minute set or a 40 minute slot – your last 5 minutes of your show should be thought about.
If you are in a group that does a lot of set, then a lot of the time you get blacked out by the lights and this signifies the end – so how do you make sure that you go out with a bang?
Well, here are a few things that can help you on your way
Clock / Timer
Ok, so this is the most obvious thing you can do. I saw this first by C3 Something when they did sets at Hoopla – they would bring an iPad and put it on the top of the tech box so that they had big numbers to look at while they were on stage to keep an eye on the time. This meant that with their long form set they were able to summarise and finalise their narrative into a neat ending (improvised) with a nice little bow and a satisfied audience. I have seen other acts do similar things but with mobile phones at the side of the stage or using a digital watch.
Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse
This may sound like common sense but you would be surprised just how many groups do not do this. The best way to get good at time keeping is to do mock shows in rehearsal and give yourself time restraints. In Punders, to get used to 10-15 minutes sets when we first started out, we used to have a countdown clock and then when the alarm went off we would try and work out how we can make the show tighter and try again. We also did this again when we were rehearsing our show night Improv Towers – getting naturally used to time without a clock is really important to learn.
Talk to Tech
One some nights that you do sets, there will be a person doing tech and make the MOST of them, They are there to help you out so use that to your advantage. They don’t just have to be the person to time when the lights go off, you can also use them for a secret sign so that you are aware your set is ending. I have seen one tech guy shine a torch to his fingers to show when there was only a few minutes left in their set. I have seen another guy do a snazzy tiny flash in the lights on stage – it is slightly noticeable to the audience, but it works.
Talk to your tech person about what you want and stand by what you tell them. I did tech for a show recently and did everything on the lights and tech that the group requested. I darkened the lights to signify their set had ended just like they wanted and when the lights came up they decided to continue and basically did this weird thing at the end of their set that made it really ‘messy’. The fact that they did not tell tech their plan on how they wanted to end the show, they didn’t just confuse the tech they also confused the audience as well.
Come Up With A Plan
Everyone has their own way of doing the time and it should be something that works for you and your team. Make sure you discuss it as a group to find the right solution.
Categories: Improv, Improv Corner, Writing
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