Unit 12 Reflective Journal: Monday 6th March- Improvability

Another section of drama which I have been learning about and practicing is improvability, for an actor the use of improv will come into use in different situations. For example, some drama school auditions may include an improv workshop, another situation may be on stage and someone may forget their line, therefore, you would have to work your way around it and include improv. For me, improvability has often been a weak point as I tend to overthink situations and therefore struggle, this is something I need to take into consideration and work on today and in future. For this session there is something else I also want to work on, which is maintaining character as from past sessions, I tend to often break character and laugh. I know this because I can be surprised by some of the dialogue which leads me to break character.

The first game we played was ‘Interview and Expert’ this was done in pairs and when it was my turn to take part, I was with James. I was the interviewer, asking James about his warthog who played sudoku. The important parts of this exercise which we have to keep in mind are that as the interviewer, always ask questions which can only give a yes or no answer, this is so the expert can expand and think creatively of this animal and past time. The other thing for the expert is to never say no, always say yes and build, this is an exercise where you have to improv answers and entertain the audience, they can’t do that if they simply say no or say yes and not expand. While I was the interviewer, I was also ale to have fun with beginning the piece, creating a title for the show which made everyone laugh. I then started asking questions beginning with “Did you?” or “Have you?”, which gave James the opportunity to improv about going to Africa and seeing the warthogs, not needing to train them to play Sudoku as it is something that comes natural to them. For me, I think I could have asked a couple of more questions to keep the piece going, however, I was also wary that I didn’t want the piece to drag on too much, but I was able to work well with James for this exercise.

Our next activity was again completed in pairs, it was called “Random Lines”, each pair was given two pieces of paper each. Each piece of paper had a random line which we will not know until the moment in the scene is right, the purpose of this is to accept the situation, no matter how random the line is, there is also a challenge to maintain character. One issue I have had with this game in the past, as well as others is that once we read the line in the middle of the scene, we tend to lose character and laugh. My first scene was set in a cinema, I was the customer assistant, whilst Daytona was the customer trying to buy a ticket. During this scene, I was trying to recommend films for Daytona to watch, mentioning the motto of the cinema, which was “And his name is John Cena”. I was able to keep in character for this part, however, it required a lot of concentration as I knew that if I dropped even the slightest amount, I would break character. For me, this game can be unpredictable as some of the lines can be funny to the actor, other times they are not comedic enough so can easily be performed. There are also instances where the actor cannot read the handwriting on the sheet, if this does happen, then it is important to continue and say whatever the actor may thing it is. Personally, I find this difficult as I often react out of character automatically without realising, giving it away with facial expressions. This is an area which I need to improve on as it is important with improvability to accept the situation and then build it to devise a piece.

Although I was able to maintain character in the cinema scene, I was less successful in the next round, which was set in a doctors surgery, I played the doctor and Beth was the patient. I was able to maintain character when Beth surprised me with a character which was an old lady, however, when I opened up my line, I was not expecting it and broke character by laughing. Therefore overall, I was inconsistent with this activity, which goes back to the previous point about maintaining concentration throughout to ensure the characters are believable.

In conclusion, being able to go back to improvability and take part in exercises was very useful. It has brought out what I need to improve on, particularly maintaining character and keeping the pace of a scene without pausing unnecessarily.

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