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Jason and the Magic Bus

Cindy Tonkin - August 12, 2008

This is a rusty old bus parked under the el.

Today’s improv teacher is Jason. He directs a heap of shows here, and was Director of iO for a long time, until a few years ago.

Here’s some wisdoms from Jason:
– the Harold’s a Rosetta Stone to deconstruct any long form
– memory is a big part of what makes a show good
– if you asked an audience member a detail (eg he called his wife Jeff in the first scene) they wouldn’t remember, but when you bring it back they recognise it (and laugh)
– line + expected response => drama
– line + wrong emotion => laugh (and then find out why they are doing the unexpected emotion)
– it should always be just about two people (and their relationship)
– improvised shows can have a Neil Simon character and a Noel Coward character in the same scene, and it works
– Del Close was trying to render human relationships down to the simplest units

Robocop has 3 directives, Jason’s 3 directives are:
– who is this person to me
– what are they really saying
– how does that make me feel

Armando wisdoms:
– Armando is designed as a simple form, for troupes who don’t necessarily play together often – someone tells stories, the others make fun of the
– the original Armando Diaz now runs the magnet theatre in NY – the form has changed a bit since the first shows (eg monologist sets the scene for the next scene)
– Asssscat is an Armando form

For monologues:
– if the ask for isn’t inspiring or you can’t think of something, “show your work” – the connections from the ask for to the story. If stuck go sensate (a sandwich is 2 slices of bread with something in between)
– monologue should be a story about you or an anecdote, not your opinions
– in monologues put in people’s names (reality)

Armando scenes:
– don’t retell what’s in the monologue – unless to heighten
– do agree or disagree with the philosophy or argument
– don’t hit the audience over the head with the monologue (if time and watch, don’t say either of those words – try sundial or sun high in sky)
– do yourself a favour – if you want to do a 2 person scene don’t mention a 3rd person (they will appear)
– look for the wider implications of the pattern from the monologue (eg 2 types of people – racism, political divides)
– always know each other
– scientists have names too

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