Each day has a focus. Day 1 was "and like a samurai," focusing on the consistently building off your partner every line. I forget the phrases for 2 and 3 but 2 was drilling into emotion, reacting with emotion over logic and diving in hard (I struggled most here so far) and 3 was creating a strong point of view for your character in the first moment of the scene, contrasting/complementary points of view and so forth.
Since we've had some shows under our belts, we've also been watching tape. Each day after lunch we watch the video last night's performance altogether and CJ (one of our instructors). We watch the whole thing together start to finish and he pauses throughout to make quick comments, ask questions, and issue challenges for the afternoon's work.
I also haven't quite gotten my finger on what's different about notes here. Every teacher did a set or two with us, and gave us notes scene-by-scene. But they never seemed to make people feel worse, or choice-coachy. Sometimes they were quick, sometimes more of a discussion (initiated clearly by a question from the teacher), sometimes they would ask the class to chime in to "popcorn" ideas about other moves in a given scenario.
Speaking of popcorn, these classes, like the TNM book (Improv Wins) are full of catchy phrases and useful metaphors. Teaching this way helps boil things down and communicate complex ideas more clearly, and helps us remember them before shows or the next day. Chris says these come to him usually in the moment then get refined over time, but they are useful.
After each session, we all summarize our take-aways with a word or phrase. Here are some I have found useful so far:
- And like a samurai
- Discover something in every line
- Stumble into emotion
- Always build momentum
- Add depth not details
- Let the walls down. If the walls are up, explain the walls.
- Find something you can take to 7
- Joy Anger Love Seduction Fear
- Contrast over Conflict
- Find a signature move
The Megaphone Marathons are also starting to bring out some great teams. Below is the amazing Austin team, Opposites, featuring our Day 3 instructor Mark.