The first lesson of the year took place in the afternoon which was focused on improvisation. Because there will be an improvability show on Friday 9th September, the aim of the session was to take part in a range of improve games to allow our tutor Erica to pick the final eight for the show. By the end of the session, I would have liked to have gotten up to take part in the games which would then build up the confidence for me to continue getting up. I would also like to have noted the reasons why these games are so important for an actor.
Because there were many in the class, we did not play a variety of improve games but this was so everyone would be able to get a go. The first game we played was ‘Freeze’ where we sat in a horseshoe shape and two people had to get up and perform a scene, this scene could then be interrupted by another person shouting “Freeze”, where they would tap someone out and start a completely new scene, this would repeat. We were encouraged to keep the scenes short, something that the people sitting down had to really take note of as they were responsible for starting a new scene. Then fact that each scene was encouraged to not be long meant that everyone else had to think ahead and think of a range of possible scenarios which could be co-operated. This game therefore taught me that you have to be concentrating at all times, imagining and creating new scenarios and not to let the scene roll on as in a show, it will not be entertaining for the audience. A main thing I learned in this game is to accept the situation, don’t deny it and say “no” as the scene can’t carry on.
At times, I struggled to think of new scenarios which meant that other scenes did drag on slightly, I also feel that I didn’t participate as much as I could have. For the future, I know to always be thinking and possibly even think of new scenarios before the session, as well as that, I will try to get involved more.
The next game was an interview game called ‘Expert’, two took part so that one could be the interviewer and the other was the expert on something that they would be interviewed on. A common thing to have to talk about was either an animal or object with a specific emotion, for example, I had a depressed pencil. These ideas would be made up from the audience and you would not get a say, you have to go along with it, another key point was that the questions had to allow the expert to reply with a “yes” which they then had to expand. An important point made was to never say “no” as you can’t develop the answer and the answer will lose creativity. There were points in this game where I was able to answer and develop it positively, however, there were also points where I had to stop and think further on in the game, despite this, I was surprised that I was able to come up with answers quickly most of the time. A way I can improve is to try to not freeze during an answer.
The final game we played was called ‘Sit, stand and lean’, three were involved and the rule was that during a scene, one was always sitting, one was always standing and one was always leaning. What I learned during this game was awareness, if you were sitting and the other person decided to sit afterwards, you would have to take control and either stand or lean. Because of this, concentration is key as well as there were times when some were told that they had to do something different because they were not concentrating. There were times where I was a bit slow and realised I had to act quickly, therefore, reaction is something I need to improve on. However, I felt I was able to keep my concentration levels up and was able to work well with my team to ensure our scene worked well. What I noticed when I was watching others play this game was that when it was played correctly, it was very entertaining to watch, especially the reaction of others.
In conclusion, the main points I learned during this session is that aspects such as concentration, helping your team, imagination, awareness and reaction are all very important to create an entertaining piece of improvability. Another thing I learned was that if you mess up on purpose, it is not entertaining, instead you will be simply embarrassing yourself, as is not inviting a partner in and not accepting the situation. I know that I can improve by creating new situations quicker, participate more and especially in ‘Freeze’. To do this, I will try to think of more scenes beforehand, extend my imagination and take any opportunity. Because I didn’t participate in this game as much, I wasn’t able to complete my aim at the beginning of the session, however, I was able to learn why these techniques are important for an actor.