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Make graceful and lasting change

Inspiration trumps obligation

Cindy Tonkin - July 23, 2008

Another Bill-dom to begin the afternoon : inspiration trumps obligation. If you feel you HAVE to go on because you were in the first beat of a story which is continuing, but you are not inspired because it wasn’t that good in the first place, his advice is don’t. Options range from start a new scene, let someone else start a scene, go themic on the scene, but don’t just haul your ass into a scene you don’t want to be in.

As Pete surmised (no one else is commenting, but James assures me Richard is reading! Keep to your knitting, man, that kid’s more important than impro!), this morning didn’t do too much for me (sleeping scenes though were fun to do).

The afternoon was a tad more inspirational. We warmed up with a game I’m going to call facsimile – start with one person walking across the circle and delivering one line. The person they delivered to then does the walk (a facsimile of whatever the walk was), and delivers the same line (in the same way). Over time, add more walks (we ended up with about 7 going at once) – and everything got sillier and sillier – by the end you had only a second or 2 to take in the walk and the line, sometimes recognising a line you had heard delivered quite differently only minutes before. A lot of fun!

Next we worked on solo scenes with a death at the end – I believe as a way to explore the environment. Not seen a singe solo scene in all of the shows I’ve seen, but maybe it will come. I have already read most of Art by Committee, and it includes a dvd (which I can’t watch here because my lovely little EEE doesn’t do dvd). Again it’s difficult to find the theory or principles in the book amongst the name dropping and celebrity quotes. But she does mention a few teams I’ve heard are good. My priority over the next few days is to see as many of them as I can.

Next exercise was a 2 person scene: first player “initiates” (their word for starting a scene) by saying “hi” but with an emotion attached. Second player counters with “Hi, X you look a little (insert emotion here)”. Then the scene continues. This exercise arose because Bill says people often don’t call out emotions on stage. His advice is that when there”s nothing to say, you can always call the emotion. It was certainly a fun thing to play.

He quoted Annoyance theatre, who apparently say that the best gift you can give your scene partner is letting them know what behaviour to expect from you, who you are.

Next we tried opening a scene with an unimportant line (here are the papers you asked for), countered by an emotional noise… and then the scene took off. Again so simple and quite fun.

So good fun this afternoon. Still repressing my mild annoyance that the trainers are not educators or pedagogs or even audience-focused to a certain extent. Each person probably got 12 minutes on stage in 6 hours today… we never break into smaller groups to play, and today we did a lot of watching others play. It may make for a good show, but it’s not optimal learning, really! Just me being me (damn all those hours I spent learning to train adults, it’s ruined me for most adult learning experiences!).

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