Archive | November, 2012

Musings about Improv

30 Nov

Here are some of the key things I learned/experienced at my 3-day intensive improv class at Second City:

Our teacher said that it is easy for someone to play the King of the Sugar Plum Faeries, but it is hard to play one’s self…that is definitely how I feel–it is a lot easier for me to play a character in a play than to play MYSELF during improv games and scenes!

During a circle game, people would mime a knife, throw it at someone across the circle and yell, “Die!” to which the person receiving the knife would respond, “NOT TODAY!!!” & then would pass the knife & “Die!” onto someone else – at the same time people would run up to each other and say and mime, “Here is David Bowie’s wig” or “Here is a little mouse!!!”  This game helped me learn how to focus better…

If you’re waiting in line to improv with a partner, you can give yourself something simple to incorporate into your character when it’s your turn, such as:  an emotion, a want, a physicality, status, object or activity.

You can be taken out of any logical realm…when you are a given a suggestion (such as you are the air guitar champion), however you want to use it is fine…

It was fun to have a scene where someone would say a mundane thought (such as:  “I want a burrito”) and then the scene partner would respond as if it was the most important thing he/she had ever heard!  Anything can be important…

We believed things that happened in scenes that would be impossible in real life (for instance, someone got bruised by a flicked booger)!

Someone asked if their dream of acting could come true and our teacher responded, “It just takes time.”  What a lovely thing to express – a lot of people would say something about how hard it is and that very few make it…but, our teacher proves that it can happen!

Either don’t ask questions or ask a loaded question or make the question into a strong statement…

I really like what a couple of experienced improv friends (outside of the class) shared with me:  

1) Learn what the game is

2) Don’t necessarily solve the problem

I’m learning….

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Final quote/gif…

21 Nov

Final quote/gift from last Solo Show class tonight at Chicago Dramatists, taught by Arlene Malinowski

What I know for sure is that in your lifetime you will hear the word NO much more than you will hear the word YES.  People say no when they don’t want to think in a different way, and when they don’t know what else to say.

In my career, I have been asked to leave theatre school, not gotten past the first round of auditions for acting jobs, and have been told I was unattractive and therefore would not make it as an actor.  As if looks would have anything to do with good acting.  They told me it would be impossible to cast me in a part since there are no roles written for someone who looked like me.  So I set out to create that role.

I got on stage and I started telling stories about the one thing I knew best:  my family.  When the play sold out, I was approached by companies to turn it into a movie.  I asked to play the lead and write the movie.  They said no.

Then Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks came to my show and what did they say?  They said yes.  Yes, they were going to make it into a movie.  Yes, I could be the writer of the screenplay.  And yes, I could play the lead.

What have I learned?  That secure people say yes much faster than people who operate out of fear.  That some people believe thinking in a different way is an interesting choice.  That if you keep saying yes to yourself, one day someone might just say it to you.

Improv-alicious moments at the succulent 2nd City!

20 Nov

“Even if you don’t get better at improv, you’ll definitely get weirder,” promised our leader during orientation…that alone would make it worth it for me…(Weird Al is one of my heroes, as well as Richard Simmons!!!  When I was little, I didn’t understand why people didn’t “get” Richard; I said, “He’s just being himself!”  And, I still adore him!  I WISH I could try out to be in one of his aerobic videos at his gym, Slimmons in CA…maybe some day!!!)

Every time someone would mess up during 1 of the 1st games, everyone was instructed to supportively shout, “Yay!”  It was comforting & effective in building confidence!

We were put into pairs to mirror each other and then for no one to lead…this was hard….we were mostly just making eye contact, blinking, breathing, standing still (when I saw my partner mirroring/imitating my mouth, I realized how AWKWARD I look sometimes!!!  Good to know/enlightening…)….it was terrifying & good for me to have to focus like that without looking away…it took some self-control & we were taught it can be compelling to witness people doing “nothing!”

We played an eye contact game in which one other person and myself were instructed to make eye contact only with each other (no matter what!), while everyone else in the class (10 others) tried to get both of us to look at them….it was pretty humorous and fun!  

Finally, being asked to have a conversation while feeling anger at a level 5 (of 10), but to appear to be happy at a level of 6 was challenging & fun!

I don’t know if I am good at improv or even really like it yet…but, I am definitely learning a lot & hopefully, if nothing else, will grow weirder!!!

My husband & Oriah Mountain Dreamer

19 Nov

My husband, Jake, reminded me about how I used to kick his feet so that we could immediately shout, “Make-up!” & kiss & repeat…so, we have commenced doing this =)

Also, recently, when I was onstage during my sister’s wedding ceremony, sobbing uncontrollably & unlimitedly happy, knees bent, my husband (& others) thought I might fall over & so:  my husband made his kissing noise!  And, it immediately comforted me…

I asked for his permission to write about him on this blog & he ok’d it; I am thankful my husband is ok with being on here…my husband & I have been together for just over 11 years & I want to get married to him again & here is something that makes me think of us – part of:

“The Invitation,” by Oriah Mountain Dreamer – 

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know 
if you will risk 
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are 
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you 
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

…….

I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
…..

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know 
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone 
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

 

Silly Loon Society

17 Nov

The Bard of Kildare, George Steigerwald, inducted me into the Silly Loon Society.  These are the guidelines for being a Silly Loon:

1.  Must carry a pen and scraps of paper for notes at all times.

2.  Must have pages of writings, prose or poetry, and papers in disarray somewhere in residence.

3.  Must keep unusual hours & experience sudden bursts of energy or flashes of inspiration during special phases of the moon.

4.  Must have an opinion on any subject yet be open to any new idea, no matter how absurd at first glance.

5.  Must pursue the muse, no matter where she leads, in the ever constant hope of being able to create if not something fresh and new, at least with virgin words express a thought prehistorical.

6.  Be able to laugh like a loon at one’s own ineptitude.

7.  Be able to swim like a loon through the waters of society.

8.  Be able to dive like a loon, to plummet the depths of any crazy thought.

“Punk Grandpa” adventure!

17 Nov

“We bought this fiber glass six-foot-long blue camen with creepy yellow eyes, took it to the Freeport train station & a kid acted like the camen was eating him & then we replaced the kid with a fake bloody foot & we’d move the camen several yards every time another train would come, so it looked like it was moving by itself…& the police came with their guns…”

I had this aforementioned most charming & surprising encounter with a cute, Wilford Brimley-esque man (in his 70’s) in the red cushy booth right next to me at a neighborhood diner-y place, as I was writing “Punk Grandpa,” my solo show (in progress) about my late wonky grandpa in my cozy corner nook with about 10 little pillows & a view of the 2 huge macaws in this man’s car – it was like my grandpa was right there with me as I wrote about him…

Me, my beautiful, late Uncle Ken & friend Bill!

15 Nov

Me, my beautiful, late Uncle Ken & friend Bill!

wearing hats I just found on the ground at the Sunday Maxwell St. market!