Be Brave or Go Home

iO Summer Intensive

Week 3

Instructor- Lyndsay Hailey


Today’s notes are different. We only did a couple of exercises, but I took down tons of random notes and tips that came up as I was watching scenes and we were debriefing them. You’ll see.

We did a warm-up that I’ll call People, since I didn’t catch a name for it. There are five different “people” Lyndsay could call out and when she did we had to snap into that posture instantly. The postures were-

  1. Neanderthal. This guy is bent over, butt in the air and back caved in, arms swinging loose, slack- jawed expression. If a fly goes by he won’t even be sure how to swat at it.
  2. Toy Soldier. At attention, back perfectly straight, chin up, hands/arms held stiffly at angles in front of you, eyes fixed on a single spot. If “action” is yelled the Soldier moves with a crisp, military motion.
  3. Artist. This person is high status, nose in the air, ignoring or annoyed at the people around him as he paints, sculpts, etc. He even uses those around him as a canvas.
  4. Brazil. This is passion and love and sex in a moment. Hips swaying, arms moving, an inviting smile. Channeling their inner Latin dance moves.
  5. Mother Russia. This person screams or cries out to their Soviet Mother in the most intense manner possible, shaking their fists in the sky or even falling to the ground as the emotion overwhelms them.

We started out with plenty of time between each character but eventually she sped up until it was all but impossible to keep up. When Lyndsay does a warm-up she’s not going just mental, she wants you panting and sweaty by the end.

We also did a Singing Soundscape or two, to build group mind for the day. Then we walked around the room, stopping as instructed so we could give a monologue to a random object. Like, I talked to scratches on the wall and the fringe a classmates shorts.

From that we moved into very serious scenes with partners. It was an acting exercise where we were to expend the full content of our lungs as we spoke to push our emotions out and onto our partner.

From that we moved to serious, dramatic scenes in front of the class, two at a time. These were not to be funny, though funny occasionally came up naturally. Still, most of these scenes were divorces and break-ups and people dying and the like. We were to breath deeply while watching our partner, no speaking for at least 20-30 seconds so we had plenty of time to fill the energy between us. To look at each other and see what was already there instead of adding something to what they brought. Because this was straight acting practice she said to feel free to fight, it was fine, as well as normal doing these kinds of scenes.

We also did an exercise where we paired off and on each whistle we would switch something. Sometimes we were told to switch energies, or subtle emotions, or environments. Practice in reading what was around us and in our partners, but also pushing to try to do something different each time.

Because these scenes were long, these were all the exercises we covered. However, I have a ton of notes from them.

Snatches from today–

  • Don’t rush physical movement. Don’t run up on people. Only move if the scene really calls for it.
  • We HAVE to go over 10 with our emotions to find the release on the other side. Going over 10 in anything (even anger) is interesting and allows for a natural change and release of tension. But if we never hit 10 we will wander around looking for that moment and not find it, not even realizing what we’re looking for.
  • Anger/argument is NOT a problem on stage or in improv. The problem is moving into a cylindrical pattern (“you did” “did not” “did” “did not”).
  • Let yourself say what you want to say, not what you think you should say.
  • Watch how your scene partner responds to you, the little things (crossing arms, stepping back, nodding, etc), to better understand what you are projecting outward.
  • We don’t have to provide a logical explanation for things.
  • Who-What-Where are in service of connection, not the other way around.
  • We practice the skill of connecting slowly in class, which feels weird. But the practice will allow us to be able to go more quickly in the future/on stage.
  • In improv we can make anything, everything, or nothing important. That is the beauty of it.
  • Don’t give your energy to the wall!
  • If you feel a laugh in a scene don’t stifle it, use it. It’s part of the scene energy now.
  • Our job is to identify the present moment, not to manufacture a situation to go on top of it.
  • It’s improv. If we NEVER apologize for what we do the audience will go along with us regardless of where we go.
  • Lines that start with “So….” or “Um….” are normally invention, not discovery. They are stall tactics while the brain spins an answer.
  • Talking about our environment is a normal human reaction to avoid dealing with our emotions.
  • If we are going to talk about objects we must make them personal and about our relationship. The items aren’t really important, what matters is what they represent.
  • If the actor is uncomfortable with a scene or what’s happening, the character can say so.
  • Can you play the Mel Brooks moment?
  • Environment is in service to the point of view or character. Always.
  • Environment can inform and serve character, and adds to credibility.
  • You add to a scene by choosing how you compliment or oppose another character. Are you adding water to their flames, or is it gasoline? Set the stage on fire!
  • Look at a scene and ask 3 things-
  1. Who is this person?
  2. How do they feel?
  3. How can I make it worse?
  • There are 3 ways to develop characters-
  1. Environment
  2. Emotion/Point of View
  3. Energy Patterns
  • NEVER show fear to an audience. NEVER. If they sense fear they will not follow you. Be fearless and unapologetic, then they will go anywhere with you and let you get away with anything you want to do.

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