Thursday, June 10, 2010


This morning we had our first Improvisation class with Greg Atkins. I. laughed. so. hard. Coincidentally, it's not even a comedy improv class, but rather general improvisation skills for the actor. He taught us a few improv games, which we completely failed at, which gave him a ton of material with which to mock us. My favorite: We had to stand in a circle passing around a bottle of water, and whenever he said stop, the person caught holding the bottle had to name eight of a certain item (vegetables that aren't green; candy bars that don't have nuts) before the bottle made it around the circle back to them. Of course, under pressure, it becomes infinitely more difficult to categorize common information. The whole point was that if this kind of pressure can stump you, what happens when "hundred dollar bills are being burned" on a film set and you need to step up and say your one line? After the game he gave us a great talk about relationships, professional and personal, and how those connections are all that matters in this business.

In our Shakespeare class, Hisa gave us more information about verse, prose, and syllables than I could wrap my mind around in an hour and a half. This is probably common knowledge, but my favorite tidbit is that (generally speaking) higher status people speak in verse, and lower class people speak in prose. She gave us a bunch of great handouts, and I'll type out a guideline for operative words at the bottom of this post.

Hal's Advanced Techniques class was a continuation of the "qualities" that we worked on last time and a few new ones- staccato and legato. He has a great phrase for using these qualities physically in a character: He "infuses" the quality to maintain the physical feeling while focusing on the dialogue or task at hand.

So, here we are midweek of week one. I leave you with this list, courtesy of Hisa Takakuwa and A Noise Within Theatre (of which she is a founding artistic member):


1. Stress not the negative. "No" and "not" are almost never operative. The operative word is, instead, the word that is being negated. Example: "Go not till you here from me." "I love thee not; therefore pursue me not."

2. Verbs of being are never operative. The operative words are the words that explain the kind or quality of being. Example: "I am happy." "He is my brother."

3. Avoid stressing pronouns whenever it is possible to do so ("he", "she", "it", etc). Whenever there is any alternative that makes sense, use it. This includes possessive pronouns ("his", "her", etc).

4. Possessive nouns are never less important than the word they posses Example: "My father's house."

5. Articles ("a", "an", "the"), prepositions ("to", "from", "on", etc) and conjunctions ("and", "but", "or", etc) are never operative. They contain no images, but serve to show the relationships between the images. Find the word with the images.

6. Adjectives and adverbs are treated as part of the noun or verb they modify. The key operative word is the noun or verb, with the adjective or adverb incorporated in the image as a modifier.

7. An image that is repeated is not operative. What is operative is any new quality that is added in the repetition. This is called repetitive contrast. Stress the new information.

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