The Groundlings School – Hollywood, CA – Level One: Basic – Day Six

Today’s class ended up being a little more laid-back and not as scary as I thought it would be. At first, I thought today’s class would be cut short since there were only four of us at the beginning of class, but it turns out that everyone else was either on a Memorial Day vacation or running late and slowly but surely trickled in. Unbeknownst to me, today was our first one-on-one evaluation with the instructor. We are officially past the halfway point of Basic, and in about 3 more weeks we will each learn our fate in our final evaluation if we are to repeat Basic, move on to the next level or are completely dismissed from the Groundlings performance track. This notion both excites me and scares me. I later learned in class that many of the people in my Basic class are either repeat students of Basic or are in advanced classes just refreshing their skills. I honestly feel like I’ve retrograded in my performance skills as I have allowed the talented people in my class and new information to slowly intimidate me and make me feel discouraged in my abilities.

In my evaluation, Ian was super friendly, approachable and helpful, and not as scary as I thought he would be. I was the last in my class to sit in the “hot seat.” He basically told me I started out Basic strong and more at ease, but that I have regressed as far as performance goes due to panicking during scenes. I agree with this. He still had positive things to say, such as he has seen me say funny things before and earlier in class when I wasn’t so tense and “stuck in my head.” I just need to improve on listening more attentively to what my scene partners say, add more details after accepting my scene partner’s initial offer, and to not be in a state of worry so much. I was more than happy to receive all his constructive criticism, and I feel even more motivated to have fun and perform better in class.

New exercises we did in class included “Animal,” which happened to be an Intermediate level character-building exercise. We basically walked around on stage neutrally and then moved on to behaving as animals based on our instructor’s suggestion. We then would take those animal bodily movements and incorporate them into how a human would move, and then we all faced the fourth wall and began monologues as our newly formed characters. We also tried this other activity involving bodily idiosyncrasies such as hand gestures. In this activity, 4 people on stage would begin or continue a story individually and would eventually be paused by the instructor’s notes as to what notable body movement trait that student repeatedly does while telling a story. As a new student followed up a storyteller, another layer of notable body movement would be added to that person’s character until the line reached the original storyteller. I know this explanation is not so clear out of context, but the main purpose of the exercise allowed me to see how idiosyncratic body movements really give a character a distinct identity.

Before our individual evaluations, we finished class with a round of scenes. I feel like a broken record repeating notes on things we’ve already gone over in class, but basically (no pun intended), it just goes to show how important it is to remember and be consistent with following these basic rules of improv in order to build a solid and entertaining scene.

Until next class,



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