Building a Scene, One Brick at a Time (Megan Hovde Wilkins – Laughtrack Theater Intensive)

    Building a scene one brick at a time – Saturday, August 14

Class Description
Simplify, simplify, simplify. We will take this opportunity to look at the art of creating a scene by adding and building on one piece of information at a time. This will include condensing your words and ideas in order to increase the effectiveness of your scenes. Learn to lay down one brick, and then to let your scene partner(s) add a little mortar and then one brick of their own. We will use exercises that promote simplification and support.

Megan Hovde Wilkins has been performing and teaching improv for over 10 years. She has worked around Chicago at the Second City, Improv Olympic, the Annoyance and the Playground. At Second City she teaches in the beginning program and the conservatory, and has been a member of the National Touring Company, on the Mainstage in Detroit and understudies the stages in Chicago. Recent film credits include ALL MY FRIENDS ARE FUNERAL SINGERS which was featured at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Notes for Posterity
Building Blocks are where we start
Exercises to begin – Warm ups
Name-Yes-When you say someone’s name, they must say “yes” to invite you to move into their spot. They must in turn say someone else’s name, and the new named person has to say “yes” to invite you to move and so on and on.
Name-Any Word – Instead of saying “yes” when your name is called, say any random word as the invitation to move.
-Unusual Categories
Everyone stands in a line and someone points out people in turn to give suggestions of the “odd” category that has been called out (fish you’ll never see). Until the main person directing the suggestions is tagged out by another, enters the line, and the new leader calls out a new category and the line blurts out suggestions of the new category.
Build a room – with no living characters (groups of three went up and created a space in turns). The rule of this game was that we were supposed to build on what the person before us had created and between the three of us create a space. The audience was then asked who lived there.
Group character monologue –
Turkey Maker (bowler)
Swan Lake (ballerina)

Samurai – three separate hiee-ya’s (1-middle person up, 2-two sides slash, 3-center person back down).

“What you said is important because . . . ”

Two circles – with a piece of paper the separate groups create a story by building it one line at a time. After you finish your sentence, you give it to the next person and hide the line before yours, so this person only has the last line to make inferences from.

After we read the stories, Megan cut up the lines of dialogue and we each grabbed one of the pieces of the dialogue and that was the only piece of information that we could take into our next scenes and work off and the people that are in the scene with you can only use their lines of dialogue as their motivation. The caveat was that we can react to other people’s information but not add more than what we had in hand. Use our information and react to their information without adding anything new.

Highlight – I really liked that this class was based on simplifying and not adding and inventing on top of inventing. It almost felt like a bigger risk to not keep creating but continue to go back to the piece of information that I had already established.

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