Thursday, December 1, 2011

Improv at Full Sail

As part of my continuing education at Full Sail I took a two hour workshop that taught the basic principles behind improvisational performance, and how to use the hidden communication framework within improv to connect with students.Ten to fifteen Full Sail instructors and staff gradually filtered into the classroom. Adam Bellis and Simon MacDonald, both SAK comedians were at the front of the classroom. They asked people to sign in as they arrived. They had a few power point slides but from the start it was obvious that participation would be needed from everyone. Everyone was asked to stand in a circle to participate in an acting warm up exercise.

The game was called GO! The premise was simple, you must point to someone in the circle. They would say "Go" and then you would walk to take their place. They would then point, seeking permission from someone else. It was surprising how tricky this was. You really had to listen. There was a sense that decisions and permissions were rushed. In another pass the verbal, "Go" was replaced with a simple nod. Being a visual person I found this easier yet following the flow sometimes left me glancing around aimlessly. Was I making a fool of myself? Was everyone thinking the same thing?

The next exercise was called, "The Name Game" or Johnathan's alliteration. You had to state your name and then add a descriptive action while acting it out. Everyone in the group had to repeat the name and action. I think I said something like, "Thor is thirsty" as I acted like I was sipping tea. What was I thinking? Everyone repeated the action raising their pinkies delicately. By the end, I felt I knew the people around me. This was a perfect ice breaker.

Adam and Simon then conducted an improv where they were puppets being manipulated by audience members. I volunteered and controlled Adam. It was fun raising his arms to gesture as he spoke. They worked together building a sacred bridge of trust. They validated each other and forwarded the story by creating new options. It is easier to tear down a bridge than to build it. Everyone in the room was free to openly express themselves which was a good environment to communicate and learn in.

It turned out that Simon is producing a Fringe show this year which is a Star Wars musical. I love the premise and I hope to sketch rehearsals as it develops.


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