Speaking of great podcasts, The Flint has just put up an episode from NZIF. It would be fair to say that I’m not at my most eloquent, but it is worth a listen for all the other excellent improvisers; Sam Smith and Robby Ellis (brilliant musical improvisers), Christine Brooks (one half of the now legendary Lingerie Detectives), Hamish Parkinson and Eli Matthewson (ex-Jesters, current dudes), Merilee McCoy (NZIF’s amazing organizer), and Rebecca De Unamuno (the best).
My favourite bit was the section on chess which describes The Book, and The Novelty.
The Book: The conventional wisdom of the correct move to make in any situation (the no-brainer moves).
I have to say, I’ve seen (and probably performed in) entire improv shows performed entirely within the Book (you know the scenes where you can predict exactly how its going to play out after the first couple of offers [the blind date scene, the submarine scene etc]). I think it is incumbent on us force each other (and ourselves) into the Novelty as quickly and as boldly as possible.
Thought I’d put up this video of an old Scared Scriptless show (July 3rd 2010).
This was Jav Jarquin‘s farewell show, but I guess it also serves as a tribute to the Forge Theatre, the nicest space to improvise in I’ve ever encountered.
Also appearing, me and Dan Bain
MC: Kathleen Burns. Music: Andy Knopp. Camera: Andrew Todd
hey im doing a improv show but im doing it alone so could you give me a few games that can be played with one person id really appreciate it thanks
Hi Cameron, thanks for your question. I don’t have much personal experience with performing solo improv. But I’ve run across a few things that might help.
Solo improv training
There a good discussion on Yesand.com on How to practice or exercise alone?
There are also some exercises at the back of Mick Napiers’ book Improvise
Solo improv performing (long form)
The most famous name in solo improv is probably Andy Eninger (inventor of the Sybil format), so I recommend having a look at his website.
This is also a great article about some of Andy’s teaching.
There are some great solo improv shows around. Last year I saw Greg Ellis created a one man Sherlock Holmes mystery in ‘Holmes Alone’. And I know I know Dan Allan does a show inspired by Powerpoint Karaoke (to give a couple of NZ examples).
Solo improv performing (Short Form)
There are a few short form games that can be played solo; poems, songs, story telling games, monologue scenes (video diary, dating video, that kind of thing), or multi-character scenes where you play all the characters. (Here‘s what the improv encyclopedia has to offer.)
The other way to go about things is audience interaction, get members of the audience up and play games and scenes with them. Audience members can produce wonderful things if treated with kindness and respect, but it takes a skilled performer to do it.
So there it is Cameron. I hope it helps a bit. If you’ve got any questions drop them in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer them.
Well, it’s been a rather interesting time.
During the February quake my flat fell down (with me inside), and our theatre has been closed indefinitely.
Fortunately all the Jesters made it through in one piece, and proved their resilience by getting our shows back on stage within a few weeks (at various venues around Christchurch). Hopefully in the coming months we’ll be able to find a new permanent space.
I think I’ve mentioned a few times what a big fan I am of Impro Melbourne. So I was delighted to see that IM’s Tim Redmond has started a podcast, and if that weren’t enough the first installment is an interview with one of my improv heroes Patti Stiles.
It doesn’t seem to be on itunes (yet?).
But the podcast can be found on on the website here.
As a side question. Given that NZ improv was largely started by the same sources as Australian improv, why do they say ‘impro’ when we say ‘improv’?
Another idea I got from the excellent Jason Geary.
Apologies if I’ve got this one wrong.
The Story Genie
Ever seen a couple get together at the end of a story and thought ‘they shouldn’t have got back together, it doesn’t really make sense, it’s just happening because that is what happens at the end of a story’?
You’ve just witnessed the power of the story genie.
The same as when we see a villain defeated, not because the hero has struggled and won, but because the villain always loses in the end.
I love classical story structures. Possibly more than is healthy.
But paying too much attention to the big picture story means we miss the moment to moment opportunities to take the story in a new and unexpected direction.
A note I wrote some years ago that I include here as a note to myself
Do not make excuses for yourself, nor let others make them for you.
On stage you each of you has the power to destroy the earth a hundredtimes over, and then in the next breath reform it according to your will.
This power is infinite and therefore it is distributed evenly to all.
The only restrictions on this power are those you choose to place upon yourselves.
No one can take this power from you unless you yourself relinquish it.
Had a workshop with Jason Geary of Impro Melbourne a little while ago.
He introduced me to a little phrase that rather took my fancy.
My understanding of it is this; Cheese biking is when an improviser panics and blurts out something random that the rest of the players have to deal with for the rest of the scene.
I find it all too easy to imagine the scene that originated the phrase, in fact I feel like I might have been in it.