Notes: Ric Walker's Speed of Response Workshop

Ric Walker

I took two amazing workshops last weekend. The first was Ric Walker's Speed of Response. If you have the chance to study with Ric, I cannot recommend him highly enough. He has a very light and fun approach that I appreciate.

This workshop was not what I expected, but I loved what I got. What I took out of it was a a better understanding of how my brain works -- particularly how it learns -- and what I can do to help it learn better and faster. With the eventual goal being to improvise smarter faster.

Here are some high level (paraphrased) quotes that stuck with me:

  • Throw yourself at the edge of failure
  • Asking why helps you learn. Adults don't do this as much and it causes brain calcification.
  • If you are struggling, rather than use filler (e.g. "uhhh"), just take a breath. This reminded me of Susan Messing's gem, "Umm is the pause for the thought that will never come"
  • Being good at argument is counter to good brain function (uh oh)
  • You want ego in the product and none in the process
  • Self-awareness is another thing that helps your brain function improve

Ric said at the top not to expect a huge improvement immediately, but that he would provide us with individual and group exercises we could work on over time. And he certainly did! Here are some of my favorite new ones or new takes:

  • Individual exercises
    • Jump Rope
    • Fast finger pointing
    • Ear prompter (to the radio)
  • Pair exercises
    • Hot hands/slap
    • Ear prompter (with a partner)
    • Simultaneous talking
  • Group games
    • Hamburger
    • Chiminy Chee

We did an exercise at the end that I really liked as well. It was about literally walking through these steps with each line/response in a scene:

  • What did he or she say? (my scene partner)
  • How do I feel about it? (emotion word, not in terms of narrative)
  • What am I going to do about it?

I use a somewhat similar exercise I learned from Kevin Hines' where the first player delivers a line, second says what she feels about that, then the first says what he feels about how the second feels. But Ric's add that extra layer of action which really had a profoud effect. I definitely want to keep exploring this with my own work as well as teaching.

Thanks Ric for a fascinating 3 hours!

Posted with permission from Ric Walker.