Unexpected Results

iO Summer Intensive

Week 2

Instructor- Marla Careses



We started with Marla’s own version of Zoom (A game that is never played the same way in two places). We then made our own version, Smooth Operator (our team name), and played that for a few minutes. Inventing one was interesting because we all had these ideas about how it should go or what we should say, but Marla wouldn’t let us debate it, we had to decide fast. More “no mistakes” practical training? Hm….

We then moved to Organic Group Games. As you’ll recall, I have struggled with group games and how they fit into shows. And what they are. So it was helpful to be told “This is a game and this is how you do it”. And I was right, doing it today made it clear in a way talking about it never did. It’s basically the same as the Organic Opening but you never transform. You just heighten, heighten, heighten until the peak and then edit. As each person steps out to join the initiator they add a movement and sound. These games can be concrete or abstract, and you can mimic or compliment the leader. Her other advice about this was that if you feel “stuck” you can always choose to heighten, emotion or physically. Also, we should all “dig up the same body”. Not do identical things, boring. But work on the same project instead of each having our own.

Building Characters With Objects came next. We did this by three people at a time sitting side by side in chairs, facing the audience. These were to be people who knew each other very well, though that relationship had to be discovered during the scene, and we were all sitting on a front porch together. Marla assigned each of us an object to hold, and we had to be a character to whom holding that item while sitting around would be normal (so no one comments on it). Items included a book on serial killers, chemistry set, broken glasses, expensive bottle of wine, knitting project, etc.

Mine was a handmade voodoo doll. The character I found in that scene was a FUN one to play. I didn’t say much but when i did it was always threatening. I’ve been puzzling over that character all night because typically when I play a mostly silent character I feel weak but this one didn’t. I think it was having a “prop” to play with and react to, as well as using larger facial expressions than normal and consciously choosing a strong emotional viewpoint. I was resentful and vindictive, and while I loved Christian’s character I hated Mihkel’s. There was no reason in my head, I just did. That gave me a lot to play with even when I was silent, I was still acting instead of just waiting to think of something to say.

The rest of the afternoon was personal feedback from our classmates and Marla. Mine was overwhelming and encouraging. We went down onto the stage in pairs and the class could call out things they’d noticed about us over the past two weeks, positive things, as they wanted. Then Marla had each person in the pair tell her something we wanted to work on the rest of the intensive, then she gave us a challenge as well based on what she’d observed over the week. After that, she would reopen the floor to the class so that they could give us ideas of what kind of character they would like to see us play.

Mine were not a surprise. Even if a few of them hadn’t occurred to me I had to admit they were characters I’d never do. My big note was MORE characters. I typically play myself. People also want to see more big characters, more physicality, being a child, verbosity (Woody Allen levels), extreme emotions, and selfishness. My class was like, you need to take the focus more and make it about you.

After all that we were supposed to pick something from our character suggestions that inspired us and do a scene with the other person getting feedback, who would also pick something from their list. A chance to try our the class’s ideas right then. So my partner and I started our scene. I chose “Verbose”, she took the note “Sexy and Domineering” (of course, neither of us knew what the other would pick). Honestly, mine went out the window the first time she slithered up against me. I couldn’t hold it. However, the scene was still probably the most fun I’ve ever had on stage. We went nuts. She was leading but I QUIT THINKING for once and just reacted, chasing her, crawling after her, laying on her, feeding her. It was NOT like me at all! I felt so unsure after the scene got called, and I think she did too. I felt excited about what I did but fully expected censor/judgment/whatever from my class because that’s what I expect any time I let loose or get emotional. Instead, several people gave us standing ovations. And later I was told we were “sexy” and “hot”. So there’s that.

Snatches from the day-

  • “3rd Thought” – Go with the third idea that comes to you after you hear something.
  • When you make an emotional choice in a scene the audience wants to see you ratchet it up, intensify it.
  • To heighten, internalize the experiences and emotions of the scene as it goes along and allow them to build inside of you.
  • Once you know what something means to your character, find the reason. What need is this person fulfilling with this?
  • Don’t think. Chase the passion and get more intimate.

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