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Make graceful and lasting change

Harold (and Maude?)

Cindy Tonkin - July 17, 2008

Over breakfast at a diner I read Truth in Comedy. I, like Peter, was unimpressed (see comments on one of the previous posts).

The book involved a lot of celebrity name dropping, and explanations of games to play. Substance not so much.

They did quote Keith Johstone though – perhaps he’s the conceptual guy?

Reading the book did mean that I was up on the first “game” we played today, as a potential opening to a Harold – “Invocation”. In fact all of the games we have played so far were described in the book.

Invocation is exciting to play.

Starts with an object from the audience (say a telephone).
Then the players (we did it with 8) take it in turns to describe the object as if they see it on the fourth wall/centre (I see a black plastic cord, I see white buttons with blue numbers, I see a sticker with the pizza place’s number on it…). Obviously all of the descriptions build on each other.

When the object is pretty clear, the next stage is to go to the connotations of the object (You are the link between two people, you are not ringing and he said he’d call, you are the tie to my country..).

In stage 3 we get a little poetic and Shakespearean (with high energy) – thou art the unbroken umbilical cord to my mother, thou art disappointment, thou art hope..).

And then in stage 4 it’s even higher energy, more theatrical and we become the thing “I am communication, I am love, I am patriotism…).

We end on “I am Telephone” in one voice.

The whole thing takes less than 3 minutes: and this morning we added a few Harolds onto the end of some invocations. In theory the themes from the invocation are explored in the Harold.

I have to admit to being a little out of it today (thank god for jet lag), and maybe it’s me anyway, just intensified. In most cases I struggled to see the connection between the scenes which followed the invocation and the invocation. The characters weren’t consistent and I just ended up confused. I edited scenes (wiping them), but didn’t play in any. Alex suggested I needed to be in a scene (derr!).

Every scene begins with 2 talking heads. There are very few physical offers and little physical use of space or scene set ups. I am yet to see any shows to discover whether this is just how they teach rather than what they do.

Tonight Felt, their puppet improv show, is on at 8pm. Last night I was asleep by 9, but maybe I can push myself to stay up later tonight! That way I’ll see what they do on stage.

Oh by the way, have I mentioned that I still have this weird thing that the people here are all speaking with American accents? I am constantly surprised by it. I’m in my thoughts, and suddenly someone starts speaking with an American accent. I had a similar feeling for the first few days I was in Paris when I first lived there. Like guys, I’m tired of speaking French now, can we go back to English please? Here it’s weirder because some of the accents are quite strange. One of guys in my class speaks exactly like Kartman from South Park. He does it without ANY sense of irony. And he doesn’t seem to have any other voice.

The other thing is the age of the people here. Many are too young to drink, and so drinking was a major theme in our day one “cocktail party” conversations. Lots of university conversations. It’s interesting to hear (and it makes me wonder why I wasn’t improvising at Uni – all that time spent going to French conversation groups and hanging out in Victoria Park with boys is so long ago!).

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