Sorry, this entry is only available in German.
Last Friday, I could call the wonderful Katharina Micada my guest! We talked about musical saws, acting and of course – improv (in German)! Have fun!
Marlene Dietrich playing the musical saw:
In improv, the question about rules constantly pops up. A nice reflection on that has been written by macro recently (in German). And I agree with him that it is indeed paradox in improv: On the one hand, there’s the statement “There are no mistakes in improv”, while on the other hand, there’s a full bunch of colourful rules that players are confronted with.
I think, the dilemma – or paradox – can be solved in that very moment when rules turn into attitudes. My observation is, that a lot of players who play improv for a longer time, slowly, slowly internalize the rules, so that they are actually no longer rules but attitudes, which – in case of doubt – can be applied offstage, too. Here, I have things in mind like “Say yes!” (acceptance), “Embrace Failure!” or “Let your Partner Shine!” Of course this does not mean that you live these attitudes always and everywhere. We’re all humans and as such, we are sometimes jealous or even mean – of course. But, even here, the rule “Embrace failure!” can be applied, which in this context means as much as: Be generous to yourself.
As soon as rules have become attitudes, the players have a much higher flexibility for their play. Because they can remove a large chunk of their attention away from following the “rules” and can focus on other aspects of their play or the show / scene.
Translation by: Claudia Hoppe
This is the second part of my interview with Thomas Jäkel from Impro-News about the AIN World Conference, which took part in Berlin from 2nd October 2013 – 5th October 2013 (the first part you can find here; AIN btw. meains “Applied Improvisation Network”). The interview is in German.
In this second part, we were looking in more detail at the workshop offering, our experiences with it and what improv has to with politics and how it change the world for the better. And, just like the last time, the podcast is avaialble as audio file (see below) and as video on YouTube (both in German). Have fun!
From 2nd October 2013 – 5th October 2013, the AIN World Conference 2013 took place in the Berlin “Kalkscheune”. AIN stands for “Applied Improvisation Network” and is a network of professional improvisors who gathered here to exchange about how “improv” can be used in professional contexts. As a person interested in this field, I had bought a ticket for the conference very early on, and Thomas Jäkel from Theater Ohne Probe was visiting the conference, too.
A week later, we sat together to talk about our experiences at, with and during the conference. The result you can hear in th is podcast, or watch on YouTube (both in German)!
iO stands for “improv Olympics” and is the name of one of the world’s most famous improv institutions (theatre & school) from Chicago, funded 1981 by Charna Halpern and Del Close. Every year in summer, the iO in Chicago is hosting a five weeks long improv class (the so called “iO Five Week Summer Intensive“, in which my friend macro actually took part this year – more info about this from this Podcast, in German). There’s the snag: as a normal employee, you hardly ever get five weeks off in a row. Plus, the costs for the flight, accommodation and course fee make the Five Week Summer Intensive an expensive adventure. Hence, the people from the iO in Chicago thought about offering a “stripped down” version of the Summer Intensive in Europe, more precisely, in London! When I heard about that, I didn’t hesitate for very much longer and subscribed for the course immediately, attached a short holiday with my boyfriend ahead of the course and there you go. On 29th August, I started my trip to London, and on the 8th September the first iO European One Week Summer Intensive officially started with a Meet & Greet in the “Nursery Theater” in London. This evening, we should see a wonderful Armando, starring Charna Halpern herself in the role of the Armando, whose monologues changed my life sustainably. Furthermore, there was a “Glitch“, an awesome improvised puppet show, followed by a short introduction of the five trainers (Coleen Doyle, Lindsay Hailey, Tara DeFrancisco, Jet Eveleth and Charna Halpern herself).
The next morning, the workshops started (five workshops with ca. 20 participants each). I was in the awesome position to call the fabulous Colleen Doyle my teacher for the coming five days (although I’m sure that none of the other four ladies is ranking behind her in any way and any regard). The idea of the course was, to roughly cover in one week what’s usually taught in five weeks during the Summer Intensives in Chicago – quite an ambitious target! However, at the end of the week, my group was actually able to bring a (structured) Harold on stage. I want to add that my group, consisting of participants from Germany, Austria, Finland, Denmark, Hungary, USA and (of course), the UK was absolutely amazing!
On Monday, we started with simple exercises around “acceptance”. Since everybody in the group had at least two years of experience in improv, we shortened the part about acceptance and started to look into “character” already on Monday by e.g. defining characters – in groups – followed by exercises like “Cocktail Party” with a focus on how the focus is shifted between the groups on stage. We continued to work on the character topic on Tuesday with exercises like “speaking out of the same mouth” or “pyramid“. This time, the focus was very clearly on defining (particularly the other) characters, and to stick to your choices in order to avoid ambiguity (“be as specific as possible!”). Because being clear on stage creates safety, both for yourself and your fellow players.
It was on Wednesday when we did some of the exercises that stuck best in my memory. The focus in our group was now on the topic “group mind”, and we did a wonderful group exercise which I have named “kaleidoscope” (the English name was “Busby Berkley” or something similar), as well as another exercise in which we created objects on stage (“Oh Mighty Isis”). Here, the task was, to add on the things that were already there. The afternoon passed by doing an exercise with the beautiful name “Good Morning, Fuckos”, which was also about establishing physical spaces. We finished that day with “the Porch Exercise” (absolutely terrific, both from a player’s and a viewer’s point of view), in which 5 – 6 players defined turn-by-turn who they are, where they are and what all of this is actually about via a simple activity that they did with their hands. I don’t want to go into too much detail here on the single exercises. If you’re interested in this, I’m happy if you get in touch with me for further details!
The Thursday went under the headline of “scene work”. Here, too, the focus was to give each other names and to use names instead of pronouns (he, she, it). And to avoid ambiguity even further, we where engaged to again make choices: Who is this character to me? What is he or she really saying to me? And how does that make me feel? We started with short 2-person, three line scenes. Here, the second line was supposed to define EVERYTHING (the first line is more or less just a blind offer), and the third line is then an emotional reaction on the second line. The rest of the day we spent on more 2-person scenes, though this time longer ones that really had to be about something (inspired by the shows of TJ & Dave from Chicago). That day, I didn’t see one scene in our group that was not in any way awesome, funny, moving or a combination of those. In fact, one scene was so emotionally dense that it made me cry.
The final day (Friday) went a bit different than originally planned: As Charna had her entire purse – including passport, money and credit cards – being stolen on Thursday night, the trainers decided to merge all workshop groups together in the afternoon to play Harolds in the Nursery Theater, so that they could support Charna with the paperwork. The morning went by bringing the first Harolds on stage, and – what shall I say? – all three Harolds played in my group where fantastic! Likewise were the Armandos and Harolds played in the Nursery during the afternoon! Ahead of which there was a collective warm-up with ca. 70 players, instructed by Tara DeFrancisco. Since we had typical British weather on that day (it was raining cats and dogs), only three out of the originally five workshop groups gathered in the Nursery Theatre, and still, it worked out great to bring something on stage with the players from the other two groups.
During the week there were at least two shows to see every evening besides the workshops that took part during the day. Here, too, I watched some real pearls (my personal highlight: The “Confessions Show” from Brighton group “The Maydays“). Between the end of the workshop and the shows, a big part of my group regularly found itself in the pub “The Miller” that was attached to our rehearsal space, where we were reviewing the previous workshop day or talking about improv in general. Some of the most inspiring chats during that week I had here. During lunch time, we had numerous possibilities to cater for us, and I want to particularly emphasize the Borough Market with its variety of different food stalls.
All in all, the iO One-Week European Summer Intensive was an absolutely amazing experience for me that I would really recommend, and I’m already considering going there again next year. What, most of all, impressed me was the spirit in which improv is taught in Chicago: Let’s treat each other as geniuses, poets and artists! Because only if we treat each other like that, we’re actually going to become it!
Translation by: Claudia Hoppe
Just recently, macro has written a very nice article about “scene transitions” (in German): http://macrone.wordpress.com/2013/10/06/geschmeidige-szenenubergange-beim-impro/
Am heutigen Wahlsonntag habe ich mir Marc von der Berliner Impro-Gruppe “die Unverhofften” als Gesprächsgast in mein kleines Home-Studio eingeladen. Marc erzählt uns, wie lange es die Unverhofften gibt, wie lange er Impro macht und was es mit dem Superhelden-Format seiner Gruppe auf sich hat. Viel Spaß beim Reinhören!