Forming a new team

I remember Irony City's last round of (formal) auditions. We had forty+ people show up and cast two. That's a lot of talent we turned away!

And I mean it when I say talent. There were a ton of good people that just don't fit in our team. We wanted people who both complimented and accentuated the personality of our group, players who would make us better by being in the group.

Now that the Pittsburgh community is exploding it is much easier to form a team. You can just ask a few people whose name you know to play with you at cage match. But is that the best way?

I don't think so. There are many successful models for teams, but as I've been chatting with folks here, it seems often times they are formed haphazardly.

Here's how I would go about forming an indie team:

  • Who do you absolutely love to play with? You get excited to do scenes with them. Here's your chance to do a lot more!
  • Who do you admire most as a player? You love their style and want to know more about how they tick. Remember, you'll watch a lot of each other's work, get notes together, and hang out.
  • Who plays the way you like to play? If you're a patient player, it might be good to have another patient player or two on your team. Especially early in your career.
  • Who balances the group out? Who does a really good job at what you're weak at. Maybe you need a good straight man, or someone with a solid emotional core, a player who aggressively edits, etc.

Now look at your list. If, in your opinion, you are the weakest player on that team, it's probably the best team for you to be on!

Take note: Take notes!

I blatantly stole this clever title from my friend and collegue Bill Shaw and his post of the same name -- the most popular post the Summa Blog has ever seen. The point of his post was to take notes. Even small, simple notes can save a lot of time, confusion, and pain in the future.

So as you can guess, not enough people take notes about software. But I find that fewer people take notes about improv. In classes, in rehearsals, when getting notes.

In my experience, though, the same reasoning applies. I take a lot of notes. Workshops and classes are the easiest example. I write down insights I learn, exercises I find valuable, and quotes that stick with me.

All of this goes into Evernote. Taking notes help you to remember, but you will remember even more if you review. Before a level, I will review notes from the previous level. Before a rehearsal, I try to review my notes from the previous rehearsal. And I review workshop notes whenever I struggle with that topic in my own work.

My system may not work for you, but I do hope you find your own. Without notes, we are all floating in a sea of learning as temporary as the scenes we perform. And it becomes that much harder to learn from our mistakes.