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Make graceful and lasting change

Heather’s beer

Cindy Tonkin - August 8, 2008

In the Cabaret theatre at iO they serve beer in jars. Here is Heather’s beer from last night.

By the way the ring-in from TJ and Dave’s show last night, Tracy Letz, is apparently a playwright who won 5 Tony Awards for a play currently on Broadway. He improvised like someone who was good at character, plot and subtext (his object work was comparatively less fulfilling).

And TJ and Dave have been improvising together for more than 20 years (phew).

I don’t know how it got to be Thursday so quickly, but there it is. This morning we began African Hunting Dog of our own accord, before Jet even got here. I just love group scenes (even more so when they work).

Then Jet threw us into scene work – this time we focused on “yin and yang” – going energetically different with each scene – if the scene was big, go small, if staged at the back and tight, stage at the front and spaced out, if characters realistic, go cartoonish.

That was fun – and Jet’s comment was that you don’t always have to connect scenes to an opening – if you connect to a preceding scene (through yin/yang) that connects to an opening, then that’s close enough. Of course we know that we can connect anything to anything, so any offer can eventually lead back to a theme (and our fellow players can take care of that!)

The next exercise I’ve done before, but not for the same reasons: stare into your scene partner’s eyes, and see what’s there. Build on what you see by sending back an emotion (without “signalling” or miming or telegraphing). Then give it a weight, a sense, name it or the relationship, and then start a scene (in the middle). This is a TJ and Dave exercise.

We did some mini-Harolds then. And people had asked for feedback (again??). So Jet got us to say what we were working on and then gave us ways to do that.

Some random and cool stuff from Jet this morning:
– don’t worry too much about chairs hanging about the stage, they are invisible if you don’t use them
– you can use chairs to set up the blocking for the scene
– always move chairs with confidence and for a reason
– games – swarm entrance is one option, but also try peeling (one at a time)
– if scenes don’t have layers (staging, environment, subtext, style, stacking etc) we’ll follow story because that’s all we have
– when your voice gets louder your body gets bolder
– watch scenes from the sides with great joy – it will infect your scenes too
– to find more characters watch people on buses and match them
– for kid characters, go to you tube – get the eyes first
– to get back your lost joy in a scene/in general – pretend that you are about to laugh, or act as if what you are about to say is the funniest thing in the world and you are the funniest person on earth
– to get out of head and into characters get into your body – stretch before a show, look only at your scene partner or at your environment (never inside your head or at the floor)
– stacking can and should affect your voice
– vary your vocal quality to find a new character – record your voice to verify that they are in fact different
– if you feel overloaded, give yourself a show where you lose it and go back to who you were before you did all the learning
– watch people you like play and copy how they do range

Some cool bits from TJ and Dave last night (mostly physical I notice!):
– woman gets out of shower, boyfriend just sniffs near her, she says “lillipilli”
– girlfriend putting moisturiser on her legs, boyfriend just watches her legs as she does it
– waitress opening a bottle of wine

And a myth from Joseph Campbell: we are born as camels and we get loaded up with stuff and have to go on a journey. We change into lions, and come upon a dragon, with “thou shalt” tattooed on every scale. Our job is to slay that dragon so we can become a child…

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