In November 2008 Robin Williams made a surprise visit to UCB Theatre to perform with UCB’s harold te
Such a memorable night. In watching it again, I noticed Robin Williams makes the third move in the scene painting and its perfect. I was obviously floored by seeing him, but I also had such respect for Bangs treating him like the 9th member of the group.
PS-My team missed the opportunity to perform with him by five minutes. Regrets.
Years ago, when Sentimental Lady was on Harold Night, there was a night where Robin Williams came by the theater and asked if there were any improv shows he could sit in on. He didn’t ask in an entitled way. He apologized for asking, seemed to think that the answer would be “no”, and clearly had…
If you don’t know the show it involves Charlie and I doing commentary over live awesome improv sets.
It shouldn’t be too hard. I can give you details when you contact me.
If you want to help me make a poster please reply to me here (tumblr allows messages) or via any social media (twitter or facebook) or email me if you have my email (that’s the best option). Let me know how much you’d charge too.
Monday was the first anniversary of New York City’s bike share program, Citi Bike. There has been lots of ink spilled about the program on it’s first birthday. This Mashable piece sums up the facts really well. In short, Citi Bike is wildly popular, with over 100,000 annual members. It’s…
I hope Citibike is here to stay for a long long time.
I'm afraid to do a bad scene. People make moves in shows that seem like the wrong move and are probably off game, but nevertheless they still make the move, while I sit on the backline overthinking things. I may be too delicate, or maybe i'm just lazy.
Technically, this isn’t a question. But I think I get what you’re asking.
I would always rather watch a scene that was truly terrible because someone took a big chance and struck out than a scene that is middling because everyone on stage was unwilling to take a chance. At least the former is interesting.
I can say a lot of the normal improv voodoo stuff like trust your instincts, follow the fun etc, etc, but I don’t find those phrases to be particularly actionable as notes. So my advice would just be to make A move. My guess would be that you freeze up because you’re desperately trying to figure out what “THE move” to make is… the one move that’s the “right move.” And the 1st step towards getting rid of that fear is just making A move, any move. There is no such thing as the “right move.” Just moves that work and moves that don’t.
I hate the phrase “There are no mistakes in improv” because we all know that’s not true. If it was, there wouldn’t be bad improv. But what you CAN take from that idea is that you shouldn’t be afraid of mistakes… especially if you’re at a point where you’re still learning and figuring out what kind of improviser you’ll be. If you make decisions in your scene, you’ll be fine. DECIDE what you think the game is, DECIDE how you’re going to play it and DECIDE to make a move to achieve that. That’s really all there is to it. The worst case scenario is that you’re on a different page than the rest of your group, but if you’re really listening, the chances of that are slim. In your next show, have the goal of making decisions at every possible opportunity and then acting on them, and see if that gets you off that backline and into more scenes, good or bad.
This is a somewhat sentimental eulogy, you’ve been warned.
Approximately one year ago Elizabeth Noth suggested the name “Hotspur” for our brand new Lloyd team. A name that, being the theatrical romantic I am, resonated with me in the most joyful way. Percy Hotspur is a fire-cracker of a character…
Hotspur was a great team. One of the best I’ve gotten to coach. Up there with Ragnarock and Sandino. All of them were smart, funny performers who made me laugh, worked hard, supported each other and genuinely enjoyed everything everyone else on the team did.
“When I am on stage, I want to listen [very] intensely, but I always panic or worry. Is this just something you get better at over time? Or are there exercises to actively work on listening?”—
(I got this anonymous question that I wanted to answer, but I also trimmed down the question a bit. Hence it appearing as a quote, because Tumblr definitely didn’t want me to be able to alter his or her initial message.)
Panic and worry on stage are dealt with mainly just by performing a ton. That’s just getting your reps in. I wish I had a good shortcut for that, but I don’t. And mileage may vary. Some people just become accustomed to it right away, some take hours and hours and hours of stage time before they even start to be able to calm down enough to really be present in a scene.
It helps me sometimes to remember that to truly actively listen, I need to listen to two different things: 1: what the character is saying and 2: what the improviser is saying. Because, often, there is different crucial information in both and you need to hear and absorb both to get the full scope of what’s going on in the scene. The easy example is, if my scene partner says “Don’t push that button”, I know that her character actively does not want me to push that button, but she, the improviser, is saying “Push it and lets see where the scene goes from there.” But it can be more subtle than that… make sure next time you perform to think about that… listening to both levels of the scene. If you’re consciously aware of doing it, it might make it a bit easier.
Also, most people who struggle with really close listening also tend to play fast… so slow down. Don’t fear silence, don’t fear pauses, and don’t worry if the audience is watching you process something, as long as your character is processing it too. Then, you get to really go over what was just said AND look like you’re a great actor! Win/win!
Lastly, you know what the trick is for making it seem like you’re a great listener in a scene? Just responding with your honest response. The literal first thing you thought of when your scene partner spoke. Easier said than done, I know. But 9 times out of 10, that will get you way further in the scene. If you find you can’t do that, make sure it’s not because you’re busy thinking about what to say next rather than listening while your scene partner is speaking.
so many good points that I find myself saying over and over again. Don’t be afraid of silence. Listen to the scene, not just the dialogue and the last part is huge. If you are thinking of what to say next instead of listening (to everything - words, actions, emotions) you are making it harder on yourself.
In Organic Improv, how do you create a game when nothing unusual has presented itself? Sometimes in scenes it seems like my team gets stuck in the Base Reality portion of the scene. I've seen players use the inappropriate response approach to jumpstart the game. Can you recommend any other strategies?
There is always something unusual. If it seems like there isn’t, it’s just because you missed it.
In the next day, pay REALLY close attention to every single minor interaction you have… with a waiter, a guy at the convienience store, a casual acquaintance you run into. And try to notice every small, unusual thing that happens, no matter how tiny. Each of those things would be usable in a scene. As fairly normal people, we gloss over these small things because we know they don’t matter, and we give each other the benefit of the doubt. But in improv, we need to NOT do that. Think of your improv scene the way people dissect Stanley Kubrick movies… every single choice matters, so anything that is even slightly out of the ordinary must exist for a reason. And the reason is to develop the scene and create the game.
Another way to look at it is that the “unusual thing” can sometimes be considered the “interesting thing.” What’s the most interesting thing we learn about either of these characters? If something piques your interest, bring attention to it, and make it part of one of the characters. If someone mentions that they love French New Wave cinema, in real life, that means that you’re about to have a really shitty conversation at a party. But in an improv scene, that means that you can hone in on that, let that define the character, and then let that unusual/interesting thing be the first thing from which you can create a game.
So, that’s my main answer. Is listen incredibly actively. There’s tons of information in every line that we frequently pass up as improvisers, looking for a bigger, shinier thing. Especially in organic improv. Don’t pass that stuff up!
Beyond that, specifics. If you’re stuck in a boring base reality, it’s because no one is being specific enough. If each line contains at least one new piece of information that builds off of what came before, it’s incredibly difficult to avoid an unusual thing.
The slightly taller of the two main characters from the TV show Suits sat in his office, looking at some papers. He was dressed in a sleek black suit as he probably often was. The other guy from the show Suits opened his door without knocking.