Hello, my name is Gypsy, and I'd like to ask a question.

Looking for character scene settings

About once every year or two I get a chance to run a beginner's exercise for developing a character. I start with getting everyone to walk, then get them to imagine an animal, lead with a part of the body, then I start asking questions so they can flesh out their personal details (age, profession, likes/dislikes, etc.).

Then I have people come up in pairs and do a short scene together. Up until now this has always been at a bus stop, but this fall I'm going to have a larger group, and if it's always at a bus stop it will get boring or predictable. I was wondering what might be some other good locations for people to interact. The problem is, the two performers will have probably chosen radically different characters and professions, and the scene is supposed to give them the room to get their characters across, so the setting can't be too dominant or restrictive - it's mainly an icebreaker to help them get going. Any suggestions? Thanks!
 

proofred

Son of a Beach
I'm used to the bus stop exercise (we call it bus bench).

It just has to be a place where people come and go and no one works.

I always preferred to play it as tourists as it allows a wider variety of characters more naturally. So you just place it outside of some tourist spot. I usually try to stick to the US just to keep people from being overly influenced by the country or acting as ugly Americans. That just becomes distracting.

Mt. Rushmore
Central Park
The Sears Tower
Boston Common
The Holocaust Museum
The Washington Monument
The White House
The La Brea Tar Pits
Alcatraz

You get the idea.

Todd Rice
ProofRed
---------
The Beach is Back
 
Hello everybody...

I've searched the forum high and low looking for the answer to my question but to no avail, so I'm sorry if it's been asked before, but I did try.

I wanted to catch ASSSSCAT tomorrow night but I really can't make the 9:30 one and the 7:30 one is sold out but the UCB site says there's a limited number available at the door. Could anyone with knowledge/experience tell me when I would have to line up in order to get one of those standby tickets for the 7:30 show?

Thank you muchly!
 
Is this where I can ask a question?

I don't know if this is the right place to ask this question. I'm not sure about this thread started by the 'gypsy' person, I tried to detect irony or facetiousness (faceté?) in her/his original post, but I can't figure it out. So, my RANDOM BUT IMPROV-RELATED QUESTION is presented here:

What word am I looking for? Please be my niche thesaurus. I need help remembering a word, a very specific verb for 'breaking up during a performance and stifling a laugh during a skit.' I tried all thesauruses (thesauri?), they didn't help...I think the word starts with or contains a 'G', but I'm not certain. I want to say 'genuflect' but that's not it. No, its not snortle chuckle or titter. I've heard it several times during DVD director's commentaries, and panel discussions, but I forgot the damn word and it's driving me bonkers.
 
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darcy

Everything is Art!
About once every year or two I get a chance to run a beginner's exercise for developing a character. I start with getting everyone to walk, then get them to imagine an animal, lead with a part of the body, then I start asking questions so they can flesh out their personal details (age, profession, likes/dislikes, etc.).

Then I have people come up in pairs and do a short scene together. Up until now this has always been at a bus stop, but this fall I'm going to have a larger group, and if it's always at a bus stop it will get boring or predictable. I was wondering what might be some other good locations for people to interact. The problem is, the two performers will have probably chosen radically different characters and professions, and the scene is supposed to give them the room to get their characters across, so the setting can't be too dominant or restrictive - it's mainly an icebreaker to help them get going. Any suggestions? Thanks!
I have done very similiar exercises before. Think of an animal, then become it! Don't interact with anyone else yet, just fall into the animal. Then, get them to interact with eachother. If they eat eachother, that's okay, just "come back to life". If they're the same animal, so much the better. Get them to stop interacting, then ask them to become 75% human and 25% animal. They should then become some sort of crazy hybrid, that can speak clearly and walk around and such, but should probably have STRONG influences from the animal. For example, at this point, someone who was a fish might HAVE to be in the water, ect. Then get them to be 90% human and 10% animal. They are now fully human beings with characteristics and traits of the animal.

NOW! Here is the actual advice.
Get them to walk around for a bit, having conversations with the other characters. Some will be more shy then others, and some will be much more outgoing than others. Now, once a conversation gets going after a few different meet and greets, get the rest of the group to back off and have a scene together. A scene WILL come about, even if all they have established is who they are, and where they are. They might not have a solid relationship, but to me, "complete strangers" is a pretty good one. If you notice that a scene is not happening, and all we have is some sort of cocktail party, just shout out "REVEAL SOMETHING!" If they do it, it should be either something about the environment, something they feel deep inside, or how they feel deep inside about the environment, ect. Aslong as the whole time they are within their character, you've done a good job.
Haha, I get ahead of myself. Creating characters isn't all about telling a story aswell. A good character should be able to show her faccets in multiple ways. The Chipmunk by probably gets made fun of for his buck teeth, but I bet he won the corn eating competition. Sure he gets made fun of for keeping food in his mouth, but he doesn't go hungry.


I have no clue if that will help or if I just vomited on your nice question.
 

Gypsy

Queen of Questions
I don't know if this is the right place to ask this question. I'm not sure about this thread started by the 'gypsy' person, I tried to detect irony or facetiousness (faceté?) in her/his original post, but I can't figure it out. So, my RANDOM BUT IMPROV-RELATED QUESTION is presented here:
Honey, my sincerity has been known to drown people. :) And this is exactly the perfect thread to ask any improv question, especially if someone else can learn from it. It's why I created it. I hope you find your word.
 
I don't know if this is the right place to ask this question. I'm not sure about this thread started by the 'gypsy' person, I tried to detect irony or facetiousness (faceté?) in her/his original post, but I can't figure it out. So, my RANDOM BUT IMPROV-RELATED QUESTION is presented here:

What word am I looking for? Please be my niche thesaurus. I need help remembering a word, a very specific verb for 'breaking up during a performance and stifling a laugh during a skit.' I tried all thesauruses (thesauri?), they didn't help...I think the word starts with or contains a 'G', but I'm not certain. I want to say 'genuflect' but that's not it. No, its not snortle chuckle or titter. I've heard it several times during DVD director's commentaries, and panel discussions, but I forgot the damn word and it's driving me bonkers.


The word you are looking for.

is.

cachinnate

or


whizgigging
 
I saw a group this weekend that was really lovely named Jessica. In their description they said that they "often employing a fast-paced French-opening followed by a mathematic-and-Detours-inspired montage." WTF??

What is a french opening, I kind of got it from watching them but is there a more indepth explination. Also, I saw a couple of Detours show and I would like more info on those if anyone had them. Ok thanks! Yay questions.
 
What is a french opening, I kind of got it from watching them but is there a more indepth explination. Also, I saw a couple of Detours show and I would like more info on those if anyone had them. Ok thanks! Yay questions.
Would that be a La Ronde, by any chance? i.e. Scene 1 has player 1 as Character A and player 2 as Character B. Player 3 tags out player 1 and plays a scene as Character C with Character B (in a different setting). Player 4 tags out player 2 and plays Character D with Character C (in a different setting) etc...

Sounds French to me. :)
 
At an improv intro workshop I did a few years ago I learnt this technique to help easily play characters. This technique consisted of a list of behaviours that a character would do. Also their might have been a list of acceptable responses to certain behaviours as well.

Maybe the name given was "<Playwright name> List" where the <playwright name> was some Eastern European playwright.

If this vague description rings a bell please answer!
Are you talking about Stanislavsky or Laban? Keith Johnstone has "fast food" Stanislavsky and Laban lists in the back of one of his Impro books. It doesn't sound exactly like what you described, but just in case...
 
a tragic question

Hello all,
I had a queston about an improv form I've heard mentioned a few times but never really explained to me. I tried searching around the internets and the IRC and couldn't find much.

Could somebody speak on Tragedy a bit? I'm familiar with it in the greek/dramatic sense but not how it applies to improv. Is it a longform format, like a Deconstruction or a Harold or simply a style, like Surreal or Grotesque? It seems to imply non-comedy, is that the case. Is it about "dark comedy" or straight drama?
 

qnarf

you get gun!
Could somebody speak on Tragedy a bit? I'm familiar with it in the greek/dramatic sense but not how it applies to improv. Is it a longform format, like a Deconstruction or a Harold or simply a style, like Surreal or Grotesque? It seems to imply non-comedy, is that the case. Is it about "dark comedy" or straight drama?
in practice, it usually skews towards the former. i don't think it'd be impossible to do truly dramatic/tragic improv, but the immediacy of making something up on the spot and the natural audience response that usually comes from honest surprise tends to imply comedy.
in terms of forms, i've seen mostly haroldy stuff, and performed mostly monoscenic. i'd say it's more stylistically implied than formically, though i think it'd be entirely possible to build a longform that was structured in a way to imply more drama and tragedy.
 

DanAbrams

Never Wears Cargo Shorts
in practice, it usually skews towards the former. i don't think it'd be impossible to do truly dramatic/tragic improv, but the immediacy of making something up on the spot and the natural audience response that usually comes from honest surprise tends to imply comedy.
in terms of forms, i've seen mostly haroldy stuff, and performed mostly monoscenic. i'd say it's more stylistically implied than formically, though i think it'd be entirely possible to build a longform that was structured in a way to imply more drama and tragedy.
Somebody brilliant, I can't remember who (possibly Dion Flynn or Jeff Michalski) once said that improv skews to comedy because we don't get an audible response from the audience, except for laughter. Think about it, Friends had a laugh track, but ER didn't have a gasp track.

There are other reasons, too, but this seems to be a strong one to me. If I'm correct, when improv started at the compass theater or whatever, way back in the fifties, they were trying to do political drama and they were improvising because they didn't want to wait for plays. Some of it ended up being comedic and Mike Nichols and Elaine May made a fortune touring around the country and doing some of their sketches as a nightclub act, thus inspiring whoever was left in Chicago to found Second City as a comedy theater and also make a fortune.
 
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