The first thing we jumped into was a character walk exercise. Everyone in class got up on stage and walked around as our instructor Ian gave us all further directions. Each direction added a layer to the characters we individually created. After walking around in neutral positions, Ian gave us the first instruction to move and position our bodies as if we were set designers. I took on an analytical persona as I walked around the stage. Next, we were told to make vocal sounds (not talking) that we thought our set designer character would make. I proceeded to say inquisitive “hmm”s. Then, we were instructed to line up as a class along the “fourth wall” facing the imaginary audience and begin a monologue from the point of view of our character addressing someone the character would know personally. I went on some rant about how the venue wasn’t good enough to accomodate the high budget production and some other diarrhea of the mouth. We repeated this character walk exercise with a few other suggestions, such as ice fishing trucker and nurse. A note that the instructor gave us was to not rely on old-fashioned stereotypes of professions.
The next class activity was known as “scrolling” in which we went on stage as pairs facing each other, taking turns listing off things we see in a location verbally suggested to us. We were to mention all words that exist specifically in that world and heighten it with emotion while maintaining reality at the same time. I had a rough start during my scrolling exercise by listing “maniacal laughter in the hallway” as something real I would hear at our location suggestion: the dentist’s office. Oops. The following are more notes that were given to us:
- It’s about really putting yourself in ware. (I think that’s what I heard him say?) Explore.
- BE SPECIFIC to location.
- Think about what would only exist in that place.
- Fully explore.
- Don’t forget the point of the exercise.
- Emphasize point of view.
Then, we moved on to our assignments where we individually presented space work inspired by our real daily routines. For my space work presentation, I did my daily morning routine in front of the bathroom mirror of washing my face and brushing my teeth with my electric toothbrush. Here are additional notes that were given to us:
- Put yourself in the literal place.
- Commit to it actually happening.
- Don’t make gestures look cartoonish and unreal.
- Make sure things have consistent weight.
- Use objects along the fourth wall.
- Pause when you need to to maintain continuity of reality.
- Make top layer of object consistent.
Next, we brought back the “who/what, who/where” exercise. I didn’t take as many notes as I would have liked, but here are the two I managed to jot down:
- Have the name you label your partner, fit his or her gender.
- Add “why” after you establish “who/what” with the first character and “who/where” with the second character.
Toward the end of class, we did a series of 2-person scenes. The only two notes I managed to write down were the following:
- Care about what’s going on.
- Keep relationships real. You wouldn’t maliciously attack your friend verbally.
The final activity of the day was one where Ian had us line up against the wall of the stage, and one by one, had us list fake things found specifically in certain locations. The first suggestion he gave us was “James Bond movies.” I hesitated with my “Double O 70” response because I felt it wasn’t funny enough, which he later referred to and pointed out that I needed to express my idea with more confidence. That tends to be my struggle when it comes to these short form improv games. I feel like what I say has to be HILARIOUS, and when I can’t think of the most clever thing to say, I shut down and it affects the confidence of my delivery. After practicing improv for a few years now, it can be a downer to feel like my confidence hasn’t improved within this span of time, but at the same time, someone giving me a reality check motivates me to conquer my self-doubt inner demons. The last suggestion was “things you find at Whole Foods.” When it was my turn to talk, I stumbled in my confident delivery, but I asked for a redo and was supported with cheering, which allowed me to do the confident delivery I was aiming for. Finally, class was dismissed.