Thursday, October 30, 2008

New Show Blog

Un-Scripted now has a general Show Blog where the entire cast of a show is invited to contribute. Check it out here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rehearsal #6: Improv and Movement

I missed the last two rehearsals because I was out of town on business, and boy did I miss a lot. They sang. They dance. I have a lot to catch up on.

We started rehearsal by reviewing the dance vocabulary, and this was where I realized how behind I was. They had apparently practiced complex maneuvers called “cascade” and “waterfall”, and I had no idea what was going on. I think I picked them up, or at least get the general idea. They should allow us to improvise some pretty complex group dance numbers that will hopefully look pretty impressive. It’s all just following a leader, really, but doing it in an organized way. I’ll go into more detail about it once I’ve had more rehearsal time to master it.

Then we moved into improv. At Un-Scripted, we often find that it useful to practice the first three scenes of a long-form. If those are solid, the rest of the show pretty much falls into place. We’re also experimenting with different types of suggestions to start with. We tried some plot heavy suggestions before that not surprisingly made the scenes very plot heavy. Last night we focused on suggestions that were more relationship oriented. This seemed to work nominally better, except that all the relationships ended up being very similar.

One thing we need to get a handle on is family relationships though. These figure hugely into Bollywood, and as we explored last night, the family you live with might consist of a fairly far flung assortment of distant and tangential relations.

We also have some new puppets, thanks to Mandy’s tireless construction efforts and the help of our interns. We needed some new girl puppets and the new ones are going to be fun to work with.

I don’t know that much was revealed to me from the scene work we did. I have a better sense of how certain people play and how to play off/with them. I’m interested in getting to know a few of the newer people and very interested to see how they react to being in the middle of a show.

The most useful part of the rehearsal came at the end when we experimented with using movement and dance to tell silent scenes between a person and a puppet. One person and one puppet (with puppeteer) would go up onstage and interact (with music in the background) as if there were two good friends having a great time or as if one was pursuing the other who was playing hard to get. They were very inspiring. We need to incorporate some of that movement both into our regular scene work and in our dancing.

Next week: 2 rehearsals! And I’m not missing any more.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bollywood Half-Off for Halloween!

I will unfortunately be missing the rehearsals this week as I am off to Tucson for a work conference. Here's information on the show and a special ticket offer taken from our mailing-list email:

Tickets are now on sale for the Great Puppet Bollywood Extravaganza! We had such a great time last year doing the Great Puppet Musical we decided to do it again, only this year instead of just doing a 2-hour improvised musical with a mixed cast of people and puppets, we’re doing it in the style of Bollywood!

What’s Bollywood? Only the largest movie industry in the world. Based in India, Bollywood movies combine nearly every genre of storyline imaginable with dancing and toe-tapping Hindi pop songs. We won’t be singing in Hindi, but we will be singing and dancing our way through a Bollywood-inspired good time!

You don’t need to know anything about Bollywood to enjoy the show. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy a world where puppets and people live together. And everyone’s still got the same damn problems, Bollywood style!

Buy your tickets now:

Half-Off Through Halloween!

All tickets for the Great Bollywood Puppet Extravaganza bought online from now until the end of the day Halloween (that’s October 31) are just $10! That’s half off the regular adult price. Take advantage of this half price offer now, because missing it would really be scary.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Rehearsal #4: Metaphors

Last night we worked on using metaphors. We generally work a lot on metaphors when we do Shakespeare, and during the last run the “metaphor game” became a staple of the show. What’s the “metaphor game”? Well, boiled down to its simplest form, you take something, for this example we’ll use an emotion such as anger, and then you take a random object such as a towel, then the improvisor has to justify why anger is like a towel: My anger is like a towel, it chafes and makes me dry.

Why did we work on this? Well, metaphors are common in Bollywood movies, not just in the songs but also in the dialogue. We played some rapid fire games where people had to justify metaphors combining random emotions and objects, and then moved in to doing scene work wherein we incorporated metaphors whenever we remembered.
We did scenes with mixed puppet and people casts really for the first time in rehearsal, and they went very well. Personally, I need to work on varying my character choices more. I immediately fell into my comfortable stock character choices both as a person and as a puppet, but that’s why we rehearse: so we can push past those habits.

I also need to work on my mouth-sync. Even though I’m right-handed, I tend to be a left-handed puppeteer. That is to say that I use my left hand to work the mouth and my right for the hands. A few months ago I had surgery on my left hand to remove a cyst. I don’t think the muscles on my left hand have fully recovered yet. I’m not sure if I should keep working left-handed and assume the muscles will come back, or if I should try switching to my right hand.

Time will tell, but fortunately we have time.

Unfortunately I am going to miss both rehearsals next week while I’m out of town for a work conference. They’re going to work on singing and dancing without me. I always hate missing singing rehearsals. I always feel like I need the practice, and lately I’m enjoying them more.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Rehearsal #3: Genre Combo

We worked mostly on improv last night. Jeff S. taught us a new warm-up game called “The Dukes of Hazard”, which we all really enjoyed, and then we dove into scene work.

We started by doing a scene here and a scene there, before working up to doing the 2 scenes from a long-form. To get a suggestion we experimented with taking a movie, and then describing a few elements of the movie that we liked. Then we took that and Bollywood-ized it.

In addition to being a Bollywood, singing, puppet, musical long-form, we’re realizing the nature of Bollywood (wherein they take any movie genre and add musical numbers) makes this also a gigantic Genre Combo show. We’ve always done a lot of genre combo work in our short-from improv at Un-Scripted. We like taking two very disparate genres and combining them into one scene where we’re doing both genres simultaneously.

It’s a lot of fun and we’ve become quite good at it over the years. We’ve often talked about figuring out a way to turn it into a long-form format, and… well… we may be accidentally doing just that.

Last night we did scenes from a Heist Movie Bollywood, a Nerds at College Bollywood, and a Sci-Fi Bollywood. All hysterical. We didn’t actually do any singing in these little two-scene slices of shows, but we did try to flavor them as Bollywood with our choices of character names and other details.

We’ve got a lot of hoops to jump through on this show, but so far each one is a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to trying to jump through them all at once.

Rehearsal Photos

From Rehearsal #2

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Guest Blog: Andy's Transformation.

By guest blogger: Andy


I’m a puppet in Un-Scripted’s Great Puppet Bollywood Extravaganza. When they first asked me to do the show, I hesitated. I was in the Great Puppet Musical last year and had a great time, but I wasn’t sure how a puppet as white as me would fit in a show with an Indian heritage. I’d also had a rough time recently and lost an eye.

But Mandy talked me into it, mostly by offering to fix my eye.

Here’s me showing off my new eye:

Last night’s rehearsal involved a photo shoot for promotional materials. Everyone had to dress up in Indian clothes. I was nervous. I mean, most of the people in the show are white, but only a few of us puppets are. How would I look all dressed up?

Bryce took care of my transformation. He started by adding clothes:

I’m not used to wearing clothes, except the occasional hat. But they seemed to go on all right. Then he came at me with a roll of black tape. What was that for? I thought. He started putting some on my face. I’ve never had facial hair before, other than the fuzz of my fabric face. I wasn’t sure I’d like it. When he’d finished the mustache, I still wasn’t convinced:

But then he added a goatee. I… I… couldn’t believe it. I’ve always been just a little wisp of a puppet with tuft of hair on my head and complexion that made me look both boyish and old all at the same time, but now… now… I look like a man! I feel like a man! There’s nothing I can’t do!

Jenny and I hit it of in this photo set, I might add. I wonder if I’d have a chance with Petal? She and the new guy Stanley were hitting it off last night, but now… now… I think I can take him!

Rehearsal #2: Mouth-Sync and Photos

We started rehearsal last night with a few warm-up games, including Bipity Bipity Bop, which I hadn’t played in a long time. We warmed up to it pretty fast and soon all were having a raucous time. Mandy, who arrived a little late after dropping off the photo equipment and parking her car, said that as she was walking down the hallway to the theater it sounded like a sit-com in there, which had to be a good sign.

Then we all used a puppet and lip-synced part of a song we had brought in. That way we could practice our mouth-sync without the added burden of figuring out what to say. I did Johnny Cash’s version of Hurt. I had practiced it a few times with just my hand, but I was surprised to see how much harder it got when I also had to control the puppet’s arms. Wow, that was a whole other layer of thought that threw me off.

Everyone else’s songs were hysterical. Sure, we can all use some work on our mouth-sync, but we didn’t do have bad and picked up some useful pointers from Mandy.

Then we went over our dance vocabulary again and worked up a good sweat just in time for the photoshoot portion of the rehearsal! We needed to take shots for the program of the new cast members and then take some shots for the flyer. We dressed ourselves and the puppets up in Indian garb and got some good shots. I took a lot of pictures. I’m hunting for a good photosharing site to post them on and then I will link to them here, or embed a slideshow. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

GPBE Rehearsal #1

Great audition! On my way home now... on TwitPic
Wow, what a productive rehearsal!

We started with some warm-ups so we could get to know each other a bit. We've got 5 new people in this show, so some introductions were in order. Everyone dived right in though. We had a very good round of the Joshua Bordy Name Game and then some hilarious I Am a Tree (and that can be a painful game if you're not all on the same page.)

Then we picked up the puppets and practiced some non-verbal work with them, making them show different emotions and playing some scenes where they weren't allowed to talk. It really is amazing how emotive they can be without any facial muscles.

Then we did some short 2 person scenes. When the scene got to the point wherein a musical one would sing, whoever would have sung talked about what they would sing about.

Finally, we started building up our Bollywood dance vocabulary. It's not that much different than the dance vocabulary we did for Let It Snow or the Great Puppet Musical, just with different accents. Man, what a workout, but everyone picked it up quickly.

This show seemed so daunting just yesterday, but now I'm so excited. The cast is strong and learning fast. This show is gonna rock!


We had a new puppet audition to be in the show last night (pictured above and below). Stanley did quite well, especially in this scene where Christian, as Stanley, played a hard-boiled detective interrogating a witness. We've decided to cast him. Then I discovered his blog and his audition video for Real World Sydney. He's not exactly MTV material, but I do think he'll work out fine for our show. We're committed to him at this point anyway.

Doing an audition scene with some of the ensemble. on TwitPic