Archive for August, 2007


August 27, 2007


I’ve been rereading some of my Improv books.

This weekend it was GURU: MY DAYS WITH DEL CLOSE by Jeff Griggs.

Some thoughts,

1. Jeff Griggs is the kind of improviser I want to be when I grow up.

2. The way Del’s life intertwines with popular culture at large falls somewhere between Forrest Gump and the Da Vinci Code.

3. While sometimes I worry that I’m a little harsh on students, I’m always reassured by the fact that I’ve never told a student to sew her vagina shut.

4. Quote: “Laughter is a response to a gestault formation where two previously incompatible or dissimilar ideas suddenly form into a new piece of understanding. The energy release during that reaction comes out in laughter.” (p41)

Excerpts here and here.


Intro to Improv: Yesand

August 22, 2007


I lost all my notes in the big move.  But I’m back in business now.

‘make an object, say a line’

August 19, 2007

Last week I had the pleasure of tutoring some High School Theatre Sports teams.

I never know quite what I’m going to teach but I always prepare a list of exercises that I think might be useful that I can glance at when I’m stuck.

My stand out performer this week was definitely ‘make an object, say a line‘.

Make an object, Say a line

How it works: Standard open scene, but players can’t speak unless they have created an object through mime (one object earns you one line).

What it does: mime skills, less talking, less worrying about story, less talking about what you are doing*.

Origin: unknown.

*Players will hopefully work out that if they mime a cup and say ‘I just got a cup’ then they have put themselves back to square one (needing to mime a new object).

Improv Blog: Bagelprov

August 18, 2007

Just came across a new improv blog (as usual thanks to Creative Creativity).


Definitely check this one out.

Unscripted Learning

August 18, 2007

This is the first time Amazon’s recommendation system has turned up something interesting.

Unscripted Learning: Using Improv Activities Across the K-8 Curriculum

Using improv to teach other things is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. So I may have to look into this one.

I found the chapter on improvising maths here (PDF).

A tragedy in slow motion.

August 13, 2007

I was judging a theatre sports competition last week.

(Talking to one of the teams before hand;)

Me: What games are you guys thinking of playing.

Them: We were thinking about slo-mo commentary.

Me: Are you-

Them: Oh we’re not going to do that ‘two people fighting*’ thing.  We know everyone always does that.

Me: Oh great.  Awesome!

We then have a chat about the kind of stuff I talked about here, about how you can get caught up trying to recreate past magic, and how it never works.

Well, I probably don’t have to tell you how this story ends**.  About 40 seconds into the scene, the players get nervous and immediately start fighting.  My heart broke a little.

I have the same problem sometimes.  I can talk a good a good game about doing the best kind of improv (whatever that may be), but when I’m on stage and the audience isn’t laughing… there’s a good chance I’m going to reach into the big bag o’ shtick.

* the slo-mo sport-fight is one of Whose Line’s many gifts to the world of improv.

**in fact Jeff predicted exactly what would happen, despite my assurances that ‘no no, these guys get it.’


August 7, 2007

So, I’m finally back in Christchurch, and have recovered from jet lag.  Looking forward to getting back into things.

Full KJ interview

August 7, 2007

Following on from this post.

Here is the full interview.

There’s some wonderful stuff in there.

KJ: …I think the fear has to be gotten rid of. In a Swedish theatre an old actor said to me – Sweden’s got lots of money for theatre and they have all kinds of foreign directors come in and teach them things – he said, “You’re the first person in my career in the Swedish theatre who ever mentioned fear.” It’s just taboo. People are not supposed to be afraid. And they’re petrified. I’m amazed that I was the only person he’d ever met who mentioned it. He said, “And I’m very happy now because I knew I was afraid but I thought the others weren’t. Now you’ve arrived here and I know they’re all just as scared as I am.”

GM: And it’s okay?
KJ: It’s ridiculous. If you’re an office worker or a a wood cutter or something and you were scared going to work every day, and you had to have a drink before you started work, which is quite common. Actors are at the very top of lists of alcoholics, you know? Travelling salesmen and actors are always at the top. And it’s partly because of the terror and partly because they’re adrift in foreign cities quite often and there’s always a pub next to the theatre. So what do you do during the day? It’s a great temptation.

GM: How do you get rid of the fear, other than drinking? Or do you just embrace it?
KJ: Well, you admit it, first of all. That’s a help. You’re negative to protect yourself, really. People try to force against the negativity and say yes to everything, but they should do it by getting rid of the fear and then it wouldn’t matter. People put rules in. There are so many rules, like you mustn’t ask a question. That’s a rule that’s being propagated. Some teacher had a student who obviously would ask questions and hardly contribute anything. In which case, for that student, you should stop them asking questions. But if somebody asks a question you should say, “Did you ask that question because you were afraid?”, in which case they shouldn’t have asked it. Or you could say, “Why did you do that?” and they could say, “It’d be fun for my partner”, in which case, yes, you should do it. So the imposition of rules is ridiculous. It’s a question of what you’re trying to do at the time. Did you kill the idea because you’re a coward or did you kill it because it’s more fun? If it’s more fun, kill the idea.