Improv Diaries – The Game Of Life…. [ Case Study: Lee Simpson]

I was not a fan of this weeks lesson – now, I will say before I go any further I learnt a lot and I found the whole lesson with Lee Simpson really important and interesting but I also found it was my idea of hell open up on stage. This week we looked at the world of the Life game.

The Life Game originates from a Keith Johnstone teaching called How It Was, I am going to talk about it the way that Lee Simpson taught us because it is the only way that I know and also what happened this week. The basic concept of the show is that you bring a member of the audience up on stage and then the whole show is bringing parts of their story to life. You get one of the improvisers to play that person and then you get the other players to become their dad, mother, siblings etc. The whole idea of the show is to bring parts of their real life to stage.

In the format there is someone who plays the interviewer and find out from the audience member everything you need to know. Anything that is asked the audience member can refuse to answer but in hindsight it is so that it can paint a picture on stage for the players to work with – sort of like scene painting. Once the audience member has spoken about these aspects of life, it is then re-enacted of built upon on stage. Life game relies on a world of scenes not plot.

The main aim of Life Game is about displaying theatricality the life that you get given details about. Another thing you have to ask is about the audience members personality so yet again you can build on this on stage.

There are many different games or handles that you can build on a scene but I don’t want to go into detail too much and urge you to do lessons with Lee Simpson to find out more.

For me, I did not like this format I was one out of the whole class that felt like this but I want to explain my reasons why. I work behind the camera in post production, I work as a journalist (or trying to be) as a hobby, I am a private person. Put all of those things together and that is why this game does not appeal to me.

I had a great childhood even though there was bullying along the way, not having any friends really until high school, getting on with people older then me and other things. To me, I don’t  want to discuss this with people I am not close with – people are easy to judge and I don’t have time for that. I loved my childhood but I don’t want it on stage.

Another thing I was not a fan of was one of the questions – someone who was in the audience member chair was asked about being bullied and then watched people replay the scene when the audience member was the stronger person and got their revenge in a film style scene like an action hero.

Now, I didn’t get severely bullied, I know people who have had broken bones because of bullies. I wore glasses so got teased because of that and the majority of it was name calling or silly things nothing major just idiot kids being brats. I got to a point in my school life I had enough and fell in love with rock music and it changed my perception on life and I ended up embracing who I was and ignoring them or they moved on. However would I want to create a scene where I got my revenge? No. People that bullied me have got their comeuppance in life, I have seen it play out on social media and I know one was even charged of a severely violent crime. I don’t need to seek revenge, life has played out that they have had what ‘goes around.’

Overall, in regardless to the fact I did not like this exercise, I really respect it and I feel that I have learnt a lot from witnessing it. I did not take part in any of the improv and I am glad i didn’t because I wrote so many notes. That is how fascinating it is, I found it sort of like a therapy session as well for the improvisers. As always I learnt so much from Lee and even though this didn’t appeal I feel I have walked away with so much from it.

Case Study: Lee Simpson 

Even though the course ends this week, I wanted to bring Lee Simpson as a case study a week earlier then I wanted. When I left Newcastle, one of the key bits of advice I got given by Ian and Bev of the Suggestibles was that if you ever have a chance to be taught by Lee – take it. When this course became available on Hoopla I signed up straight away – I didn’t even read the information about the course I knew I just had to do it. Best decision to make.

In the last seven to eight weeks I have learnt so much from Lee that I am going to put everything to good practice. There are so many things that I can transfer into my own style of improv and it is going to help me develop as an improviser and how I approach the stage.

Lee is a fantastic teacher, the course has been educational, he has approached improv in a way I have not seen before and his calming and friendly manner makes it all worth while. Thank you again Lee and hopefully will be taught again by you soon.


Improv Diaries will return in 2020 

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