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Make graceful and lasting change

Truth in Comedy

Cindy Tonkin - July 15, 2008

Well, “day one” is over! After lunch it’s “day two” in this intensive course.
The morning began with a brief homage to Del Close. His ashes are here in the theatre, and they mentioned it only 2 or 3 times. Sharna Halpern (not sure of the spelling) has written a book called “truth in comedy” which she recommended (without an ounce of self-consciousness).
This week’s class focuses on patterns, theory and philosophy. Class started with a quick musical hot spot (no babying). A large percentage of the 60 people put up their hand for having already improvised, so I guess they figure they’ll start at a higher gradient (no passing the clap).
Then we got a “name game” going (where you set up a pattern with names and then add more patterns). The difference was you said your own name (so the teacher, Alex got to know everyone’s name, but I just remember Damien before me and emily after me).
The second and third pattern (which we would normally do as a category of things like fruits or colours) was a word association (which made it easier to remember and faster to perform).
We were encouraged to justs start up a pattern if we noticed that one had broken down.
And then to complicate it he got one of us to mime an object (a box) and throw it around the circle saying “box”. Then a second object.
An so we ended up with 3 patterns and 2 objects, which kept 15 people quite busy for quite a while.

Sharna had a nice Del Close quote “let’s treat each other as geniuses, poets and artists because we have a better chance of being that”. Like it!

She also suggested that there was something better than laughter, bigger than the gag, and that is the hoots and cheers when people recognise a recycled (shelved) idea come back a 2nd or 3rd time each time with a bigger meaning.

And there’s a catch phrase which they’ve used a few times already – “if it’s happened to me it’s happened to you”.

In scene work this morning we were encouraged to be real and to be “close to” ourselves. We did a few rounds with 7 or 8 people in pairs just chatting about stuff, and giving/taking focus. What’s bizarre is how watchable it is. Just people having real ordinary conversations on stage. Is there a show like this? Or do improvisors want to be more clever than that?
Just before lunch we created a few 2 person scenes with a potential conflict starting point, and looked for the relationship through the conflict.
Now me and the blackberry are in a diner right next door to the theatre. (Hence the photo). Apparently there are no games at Wrigley Field this week, but next week there will be, and that will mean chaos!!
My eggs and chips are here….

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