Saturday 26 September 2009

Improv Challenge Day Seven

Seven posts ago I suggested improvising the next seven, and this is number seven.

Seven posts ago I received a few helpful and one unhelpful suggestion and I decided to tackle each of them.

There was not a seventh, unless I count Dave’s suggestion – improvise.

So, since the alternative is waiting for a possible seventh to fall and possibly not, I think I had better improvise and move on.

I’m not sure waiting is the same as improvising anyway.

In fact we all improvise everyday – sure there are certain constraints and we can be fairly certain things will happen – but most of us make it up as we go along, don’t we?

I’ve never met anyone who has a five or ten year plan for the future though I have read that they exist; I certainly seem to be improvising from one moment to the next.

Last night Antoine, the local sheep farmer turned up to check his flock, I was sitting outside wondering how I would know when to stop the task of Improv Challenge Day Six, writing into the dusk.

First Antoine needed a strimmer - the sheep had discovered where a particularly poisonous plant was growing and he wanted to eradicate it, even though it was quickly becoming night.

Then, when that failed he said goodnight and I replaced all the equipment.

Back to the writing but then Antoine returned – he had a flat tyre and needed a metal bar to help remove the wheel nuts.

I have one, buried somewhere at the back of the van so in the torchlight I located it and sent him on his way.
Back to writing.

A few moments later, Antoine returned with a now bent piece of metal, informed me that it hadn’t worked and asked for a lift home.

None of it was planned and it’s like this most of the time around here.

So it is pretty much how I write most of what goes in this blog – there is a vague idea that popped into the head and it goes from there – I hadn’t intended writing about Antoine for instance, and would probably edit it out – if this post wasn’t "improvise."

I never did a lot of pure improvisation in the theatre, much preferring a structure. There had to be a beginning, middle and end.

Yes, there was freedom to improvise within that but we always came back to the structure.

I’m an Aquarian, probably a control freak and thus I am uncomfortable in complete chaos.

The one time I studied in a workshop with improvisers, I coped but felt uncomfortable and didn’t return the following day.
Was that improvising or being blocked?

If I understand anything, and it’s not sure that I do, it is something to do with what Vicki mentioned in the comments to Down the Rabbit Hole – say yes.

This morning I woke up feeling disappointed with yesterday's effort, unsure when and where to give during the process and frustrated by the not knowing of the time frames of others.

Waking, feeling I had failed.

But thanks to everyone who joined in.

So I’m bringing down the curtain on this episode, maybe try again later….who knows?

Day 5 Day 3 Day 2 Day 1


Dave said...

Can't seem to comment here, so I have here:


popps said...

Dave, i made your link live , thanks for posting it.

Janet Bianchini said...

I'd like to congratulate you on accomplishing the Day 6 challenge in such a splendid and inventive way! It was a very brave thing you did and hats off to you as it was done in a very public arena...( btw,I really liked the photo that you kept changing during the day!)

I enjoyed adding bits to your story together with Ann and Vicki. What you did was fun, innovative, spontaneous and challenging.

I am going to do a creative writing slot week after next with an intermediate group of students. I will use the same parameters and follow the same idea as yesterday's and we'll see what happens!

Many thanks for inspiring me...

popps said...

Thanks Janet, like i said here i was a bit disappointed.
firstly i was unsure when to finish the whole thing and how long to give for responses.
I don't think i gave enough opportunity for everyone to throw a spanner into the works, and when i did i didn't know if anyone was there or just not wanting to pick up at that point.
As a two way exercise i think you need both sides to leave a potential change point when they hand over.
For example when i wrote that Jack picked up the ....banana i was trying to give someone to say ...but it wasn't a banana it was a .....
But if you had fun then it was worth it.
If it gave you some ideas - brilliant.
There was a lovely moment for me when i suddenly had two things to respond to at the same moment.

Anne Hodgson said...

I liked finding my way into the process, but your palpable sense of frustration jumped across the internet. Knowing if anyone is actually online at the moment, and how long it will take does drive up the adrenaline. There you are, handing something over to someone else, and waiting for longish periods is not really part of the picture.

I had a similar experience in an online group forum when we were trying to meet a deadline, discussing stuff. The long waits left me feeling strung out and anxious.

I was teaching yesterday, that's why I just dropped by late-ish. Try it again sometime supported by posts on Twitter :-)

Vicki said...

I thought you did a grand job Chris, really, and let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater because there were lots of clever bits in there. I'd like to echo everything said by commenters here (and on Dave's site). Yeah, I liked the photo too Janet (Sorry it took me a while to tumble it.)

Here are some thoughts to add to the mix:
1. I was a bit frustrated because Twitter blocked me (password problem) so I couldn't spread the word.
2. I think I should have given you a simpler scenario at the start. (Perhaps 2 people and then we add another as one leaves or something.) I had to write the characters' names down on paper with notes at one point because I was getting confused. I think it was because it was happening over an extended period, and life was interceding.
3. I think I should have set you up better in other ways too - calling on different folks to name specific things eg. the problem they were discussing, the thing they were passing around.... (As you'd mentioned earlier - too many suggestions is a good thing because you can pick and choose a bit)
4. I felt a need to wait my turn, and with hindsight I shouldn't have done. You needed to know when we were typing.
5. This may be a complete red herring, but I also felt I wanted to see lots of short contributions.
6. I think palpable change points were important too... and I think you're idea is spot on there, Chris.
7. I wanted to explain things like 'I need to go to the doctors now' or 'I can't do anything for a bit because so-and-so has just called', but I had no means to communicate. I think some kind of instant messaging device would be good, as Janet suggests.
8. There were allusions you were making that made me chuckle, but was the rest of the audience laughing too? I felt oddly alone.

But also mightily honoured to be taking part in live improv event. Larger numbers of suggetsions (so you can pick and choose) and the power of 'instant' (as in instant messaging device) and you could have something very powerful here.

popps said...

Great points Vicki and lots of clear analysis, the main problem i think was the "not knowing when someone was doing something' that can be easily sorted out with either technology or timing structure.
In-jokes are rarely good in comedy, as an ex-professional i know better but i was trying to be as spontaneous/improvised as possible, despite time delays trying not think before.
I was trying to make it as close as to on-stage as possible.
Having said that and reading it again i think they "work" as character - except when i added a list of the other things i had done that day.(your point 7)
In the end i'm not sure i had an audience of more than the three of you.

popps said...

Another thing Vicki, well two actually.
1. I think your starting point was great, enough direct info and vague enough (how many people ) to allow development.
2. It's significant that you felt alone - and i felt like a dictator, hence the bad feeling in the morning. I felt like i had beaten everyone up.

I think it was a case of me "doing" and you "feeding"
which is not what improv should be - it should change. The feeders need to take over the doer has to let them.

I think i made an error when Janet contributed - "it could be dangerous" , i should have responded with a "why" and left it there.

I was too much trying to control the outcome.

so i think your "loneliness" was a result of being excluded - i didn't mean to.

Improvisation can be ugly sometimes - i remember when my friend Mike smashed up all my props on stage in his improvisation.

But that's another story.

Vicki said...

No, I don't think I felt dictated to so much as uncertain.
Maybe I have been living in the US too long, but I see it more like a morphing, dynamic new genre

popps said...

Obviously at some point it might be worth trying again (a few English style hesitations there ), we can eliminate the uncertainty with better planning unless your uncertainty was deeper than the confusion of 'who was doing what , when'?
janet has some feedback too - you can see it here