Friday, February 27, 2009

Play Schedule

Now, these are always somewhat subject to change, but here's when people are playing:

3/5/2009 8:00 Christian, Dave, Joy, Clay, Trish
3/6/2009 8:00 Alan, Scott, Jeff, Mandy, Trish
3/7/2009 8:00 Alan Christian, Jeff, Mandy, Scott, Trish
3/12/2009 8:00 Bryce, Clay, Dave, Joy, Trish
3/13/2009 8:00 Alan, Christian, Dave, Jeff, Trish
3/14/2009 3:00 Bryce, Christian Alan, Joy, Mandy, Scott
3/14/2009 8:00 Alan, Bryce, Joy, Mandy, Scott
3/19/2009 8:00 Alan, Bryce, Jeff, Joy, Mandy
3/20/2009 8:00 Alan, Clay, Jeff, Joy, Trish
3/21/2009 3:00 Alan, Bryce, Christian, Mandy, Scott
3/26/2009 8:00 Christian, Clay, Dave, Joy, Scott
3/27/2009 8:00 Clay, Dave, Jeff, Mandy, Trish
3/28/2009 3:00 Bryce, Christian, Joy, Scott, Trish
3/28/2009 8:00 Bryce, Christian, Clay, Dave, Mandy

Changes made 3/7/2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Rehearsal #5: Birthday Rapping

We had David Norfleet at rehearsal last night so we could practice singing. After suitably warming up, we started by improvising some songs in the style of the Andrew’s Sisters. We do this by having one person stand in the middle with two other facing them. The middle singer sings a song, while the two on either side do their best to harmonize with the singer while singing the same words. It helps if they look directly at the singers mouth and learn to lip-read from profile.

Then we went over Mandy’s Barber Shop Quartet concept from last week. With some help from Mr. Norfleet, we were able to get this down into a fairly doable state. This basically involves a lead singer singing a song in 4 measure chunks, with the backup quartet repeating each line in harmony.

At this point, we took a break and had some lovely birthday cake in honor of Clay’s and Dave’s birthdays, both this week. Fully charged with our sugar rush, we moved into some point-of-view songs and scenes into songs before capping the evening off with me pimping people to sing songs I wanted to see them sing. Highlights included Scott & Jeff’s Beastie Boys style rap. Dave’s rap with Christian providing a “sample” chorus while Trish danced. And the Spring Break gang butt rape reunion song. Don’t ask.

Rehearsal #3 in Time-Lapse
Rehearsal #4 in Time-Lapse

And last night’s rehearsal:

You’ll notice the green background. We have a “Green Screen Challenge” going on right now for an as yet undetermined prize.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Rehearsal #4: Photo Mania

Tuesday's rehearsal was consumed by the photo shoot for the program and the flyer. It's always hard to get much done at a "photo shoot" rehearsal, but invariably they are necessary because they're the only time you know you'll have a chunk of the cast together at the same time.

To try and keep this one from being a complete wash, I told people to bring musical instruments. Then, anyone who wasn't onstage being photographed was in the back of the house jamming and improvising songs. I want music and song to be a big part of this show, and since this show really is about us having a good time, playing instruments we enjoy playing fits in perfectly. We will have a keyboardist at every show as well, but self-played instruments add so much (in a Sweeny Todd Revival sort of way).

As I was busy helping out with and occasionally art directing the photo shoot, I really have no idea how the jamming sessions went. Although I did hear a good song about a repo man and Scott sing a wonderful blues number.
The photo shoot itself went quite well and was tons of fun, as they usually are. Hopefully it resulted in some good shots and the overall concept for the flyer will actually work. I’ll post images here once we have it.

After we finished taking pictures, we broke down the photography equipment and worked on transitions into songs, either through scenes or in-character introductions. One of the highlights of this section of the rehearsal was a strange sort of interpretive dance. I’d love it if something like that happened in a show.

What sort of instruments did people bring that you might see played in a show if you came? Guitar, ukulele, two different kinds of drum, a squeeze box, a flute, and a harmonica (which I brought but really need to learn better how to play before I break it out in a show; my technique is good but I don’t know what notes I’m playing). And that doesn’t even include the acoustic base and mandolin that might also make its way to the shows.

We capped the evening off by experimenting with Mandy’s crazy idea on how to improvise Barbershop Quartet singing, which worked amazingly well. Once we’ve ironed out the kinks and I have a better grasp of what exactly we did, I’ll write more about it.

Only 2 more rehearsals left before we open! Ticket are on sale now. If you use the coupon code “special” when buying your tickets on Vendini between now and Tuesday 2/24, you get 25% off!

Also, see why Joy missed rehearsal.

Slide Show of the photo shoot:

Friday, February 13, 2009

Rehearsal #3: Just Have Fun

We were short handed at our third rehearsal. I knew Scott and Clay would be absent in advance due to previous conflicts, but then suddenly Trish and Bryce got sick. I’d originally planned on having the photo shoot for the flyer at rehearsal, but with so many people absent, I decided to reschedule it for next week.

This left me with a full three hours and 6 of the 10 cast members to kick around in. We got started with some warm-ups and got to know a couple of our new interns in the process. Then I wanted to move into working on games.

We started by going over spit-take. This is one of my favorite improv games and we ran a few practice scenes to show the people who had never seen it how it worked. For those of you unfamiliar with spit-take and the way we play it, this is spit-take: You play a scene wherein people are drinking water. When someone says something shocking, you spit out your water on them. This game is designed to teach having big reactions on stage. Over the years we’ve discovered a lot of finer points to the game (in the beginning it’s funnier not to spit) and find it best to practice it without water (miming the spitting).

After that I had people take turns playing a scene. At some point in the scene someone from off stage would “ding” it. Then the players had to decide for themselves what the ding meant. Were they playing new choice? Genere switch? Move on? Or, as we discovered, some new game? It was their choice. But of course they couldn’t talk about what game they were choosing to play, they each had to just start playing it, which made for some hysterical moments when players were playing different games from the same bell.

All this resulted in some fun new games. Things happened as a result of the bell ringing that I’d never seen before, such as inner monologue rapping, Upper Class Brit/Western Hick switch, and a food replicator gone haywire.

Then we ran the format for about an hour or so, or ran it as best we could without a musician or an audience. We had a lot of fun and discovered some more new games, such as Brecht Forward Reverse. That’s really the best part of this show, is discovering fun things in the moment. You can’t really do that if you’re locked into a set-list or if you have to set-up your scenes in advance. Just go do it and see what happens. It’s so much more fun.


We did shoot a time-lapse video of rehearsal, but it will have to wait until Clay returns from his Caribbean adventure to be posted to the intertubes.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Rehearsal #2: Dynamics

Rehearsal number TWO! Ah… it felt like slipping into a nice comfortable pair of shoes. Now I remember what directing feels like.

We were at the Dark Room, and we started (after suitable name-game warm-ups) with just practicing setting up scenes in character. In order to get over the initial inertia, I told people to start by setting up scenes and games while in Shakespearean characters. Then, once people had the hang of it and the creative juices started to flow, we expanded into more free-form styles.

Then we took a short break and moved into trying to establish a scene in a genre as quickly as possible without telling anyone which genre you were trying to establish. This exercise has the added bonus of developing style-matching skills without people really being aware of it. Shh… Don’t tell them.

THEN we did a status exercise that Tara developed at the Un-Scripted retreat a few years ago using a card game called Blink. The game has cards with various designs, but the key is that the design is repeated anywhere from 1 to 5 times. So it’s like having a whole deck of cards just 1 through 5.

Here’s how it works. Everyone in the scene pulls cards that represent their statuses to various elements of the scene. A card for their status to themselves, to each other character in the scene, and to the environment. Then you set people up in a scene. Setting people up in a scene is rather important for this exercise because the set up will imply certain status relationships that will either be in line with or opposite of the status cards they chose. The results are always very dynamic scenes.

Watch it all time-lapsed down to less than two minutes: