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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What I learned on summer vacation...

So, about six million years ago I promised that I would write a post about what I took away from the Keith Johnstone workshop that I attend at the end of August. I just finished typing up my notes and I thought I would just pull out some of the quotes from my notes that help to sum up his work for me. Here it goes:

Don't try to be good! If you try to be perfect, or even good, you will be fearful, worried about getting it “right” and therefore uninteresting (by making boring, safe choices)

An audience wants to see people fail and then still be happy (something that never happens in real life)!

Why do people watch car racing, or professional gymnastics? Would as many people watch them if there were never accidents and no one ever fell off the beam?

Don’t let things get too safe- If you can play a game perfectly, there’s no reason to play it.

He gave a great example of his exercise as a tight rope routine… he goes away for a few months and when he comes back the people who took over have painted a line on the ground and tell him “But Keith, it’s even better! We never fall!”

Slow down. Let yourself think. Silence is okay.
Go faster. Trust yourself. Fast enough something spontaneous happens (yes... life is full of contradictions).

Don't set out to make yourself look good. Set out to please your partners... if everyone is trying to please one another you are bound to have a good time, and look good in the process.

In good plays, someone is altered. In good improv, you have to be willing to be altered (something we all naturally resist).

Nothing we do means nothing (conversely of course, everything means something).

With actors it is necessary to make conscious what is naturally automatic/unconscious. We naturally adjust and change in life; we must do it on stage.

Circle of Probability: don’t go outside of expectations of audience (a frog with a Bible doesn’t want to learn Chinese, he wants something to do with religion)

We’ve been taught that the predictable isn’t interesting and therefore we try to subvert it but the obvious is what the audience wants (not the original).

Taking risk is essential in improv (as it is in life!).
You can’t learn without failing… fail cheerfully!

Sometimes you're more interesting when you do nothing.

What makes an audience laugh is not the line, but always the reaction to the line. Same holds true for what makes an audience cry.

The greatest actors are surprised (convince yourself the opposite is going to happen… if in the script she is going to accept your proposal, convince yourself beforehand that she is going to say no).

“You’re best just happens.” “Trying harder is like trying to be more intelligent.”

Stage fright comes from thinking you’re inadequate… and working harder makes it worse.

And perhaps my favorite quote from the whole week: “Learning German is like trying to strike a match on soap.”


Alice said...

"What makes an audience laugh is not the line, but always the reaction to the line."
Perhaps the best example of anyone ever with this was Jack Benny, never saying a word just smacking his face with his hand.
Sounds like you learned a lot.

JayD said...

But what is learning French like? :-)

Merrilee said...

Sounds like you had a great time and learned a ton.

Ok, with "your best just happens" does that mean that I can totally slack off on my papers, toss some words on a piece of paper, and viola! Masterpiece!?! It just happened therefore, it's my best, right?