Are You Too Nice to Be Your Character? (Jeannie Cahill Workshop – Laughtrack Theater Intensive)

    Are you too nice to be your character? – Saturday July 31st, 2010

Class Description
Have you ever started a scene with a strong character then immediately abandoned it for the sake of “yes anding” your scene partner? I used to do this all the time thinking I was helping the scene by constantly agreeing and doing what my scene partner wanted me to. Instead I found that I was actually hurting the scene by not sticking to my character’s wants and opinions. Sometimes as improvisors we forget how to play a scene. We’re all so nice and don’t want to step on any ones toes that we end up having a boring scene instead of one rich with perspective. My workshop does not advocate arguing but instead allows the improvisor to delve deep into how their character might “yes and” as opposed to how they personally would in real life. These valuable exercises will teach you to feel at ease and in control of who you are in each and every scene you do.

JEANNIE CAHILL has been professionally performing and teaching improv for years. Currently performing for The Second City aboard the Norwegian Pride of America in Hawaii.

Notes for Posterity –
We started off this class with a game of George with no elimination but to learn names. We then spent most of the class working on character development.
The first game we played was called 5 in the room. It was a character calvacade game where one person would be on stage and would become 5 different characters on the spot. Each time they were a new character the audience would count off.
The next game involved groups of four people but one person out the group at a time would be the “it” person. The “it” person would stand in the center and then one after another, the people in your group would come up and deliver one sentence of dialogue per person (preferably a declarative statement). They would repeat the sentence and the way of delivery each time without change three times. Each time they say the sentence the “it” person would have to become a new character. This happens with each person in the group until all four people have had an opportunity to be the “it” person and have the group give them their lines three times.
We then did an exercise where each person had one adjective and a “character” to portray. We would go on stage and do a scene with someone else that had their own character and adjective to work with and the audience would guess who they were.

Exercise Highlight –
I really enjoyed the two character games we played at the top. They were fun and we spent a good deal of time thinking about creating characters and making choices different from what our initial impulses were.

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