IRC Podcast with Caitlin Tegart

Episode #6 of the IRC Podcast has just been uploaded to the site. This week, I talk to Caitlin Tegart, a sketch writer and director who teaches for the UCB Theatre in NYC. We discuss how sketch writers can help themselves by not worrying about how good an idea is, that instead they need to simply get their ideas onto the page. We also discuss the process of taking a bunch sketches and turning them into a show.

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IRC Podcast with Tara Defrancisco

Episode #5 of the IRC Podcast has just been uploaded. Tara Defrancisco is a former member of the Second City Touring Company. She performs and teaches for iO Theater and ComedySportz in Chicago. She discusses several exercises she uses in her classes and workshops. We start by talking about "What’s in the Box?" a short form exercise to help people make quick decisions and to yes and those decisions. Next we talk about an exercise where students initiate scenes as if they are expressing an important idea to a real person in their life. Last we discuss a couple of exercises designed to get students to make new and different character choices in their scenes.

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IRC Podcast with Kevin Hines

Episode #4 of the IRC Podcast has just been uploaded. Kevin Hines is a performer and teacher at the UCB Theatre in NYC. We begin by talking about a couple of exercises he uses to get students reacting quicker and more realistically to twists and turns in their scenes. We next talk about The Macroscene, a show that came out of his last performance class. Finally, we discuss an exercise he uses to rehearse third beats for Harolds.

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IRC Podcast with Matt Donnelly

Episode #3 of the IRC Podcast is up and ready. This week my guest is Matt Donnelly who shares a couple exercises he uses in his workshops. The first he calls History, Philosophy, Metaphor and it’s a way to deepen the beginning of scenes by asking students to take an underdeveloped detail of a scene and elaborate using one of three techniques. Next we talk about Bull, Matador a method of creating and playing games which asks which character is vulnerable and then puts the players in either the role of a bull or a matador.

Matt, currently lives in Las Vegas where he teaches with Improv Vegas. When he is in NYC, he teaches workshops at the The PIT.

Improv wiki roundup – Upcoming Improv Festivals

Inspired by a question in a Facebook status, I decided to make a page on the IRC Improv Wiki for Upcoming Improv Festivals. I have started working on it and have gotten a few festivals on the list, but I hope to do some more work on it in the coming days. If you don’t want to add your festival directly to the list, you could also leave a comment here on the blog with the name, dates, location and link for your improv festival and someone will add it to the page.

Some improv groups were added to the wiki this week, Great Heights and Twenty Seven and some updates to Whisker Bliss, UCBW and Un-scripted Theater. We also had some updates to some performer pages including Shannon O’Neil, Julie Klausner, Jodi Skeris, and Rachael Mason.

IRC Podcast with Jill Bernard

Episode #2 of the IRC Podcast is up and ready to go. My guest this week is Jill Bernard from HUGE Theater and Comedy Sportz in Minneapolis. She shares some exercises she uses in her classes. She describes a warm up called Loser Ball which teaches students to embrace failures. Next she talks about an exercise where only one player speaks and the other remains silent. We also talk about an exercise, morphed from a Meisner exercise, where she gets her students to actually do something, rather than pretend to do something.

If you are interested in taking classes with her, visit hugetheater.com.

Announcing the Improv Resource Center Podcast

Yesterday I published my first podcast and added it to iTunes. It’s called the Improv Resource Center Podcast and it will live over on my other website (the Improv Resource Center).

I’ve been wanting to create a podcast for some time, but I wasn’t sure what shape it would take until a few weeks ago. I decided to make it very focused and relatively short, in the hope that it becomes a very practical resource for myself and others. Continue reading “Announcing the Improv Resource Center Podcast”

What is first unusual thing?

The best stories and songs and memories all have something unusual about them. Sometimes it’s slightly out of the ordinary, sometimes it’s absurd.

A common concept in improvised scene work is that at the top of the scene, we should be trying to discover the first unusual thing about the situation or relationship and then use that to create a game for the scene. A few questions were recently posed on my message board about the first unusual thing and here was my response:

The first unusual thing has a lot to do with how our brain works. We remember and are delighted by novelty in general. Lets say you shook hands with 20 people today, and 19 of them shook your hand in a way you expect. If the 20th person shook your hand and then pulled you in close and whispered into your ear, “You are the one, the only one who can save us.” You would remember that handshake long after you forgot the other 19 people.

The best stories and songs and memories all have something unique and unusual about them. Some of these unusual things are just slightly out of the ordinary, some are absurd or ridiculous. I would go so far to say that all great theatre is about unusual things. Plays are not about the days where everything mirrors ordinary life exactly and everything happens just as we would expect. It’s about the days when things go wrong or unravel in unexpected ways or about characters whose ordinary days seem strange to us.

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