WIT isn’t in Drama Christi at the moment, here are the TUESDAY TRAINING LOCATIONS for the next couple of months
From February 3rd to March 3rd
Toi Whakaari: National Dance & Drama Centre
11 Hutchison Road, Newtown
From 10th March to 24th March
Toi Pōneke Arts Centre
Abel Smith Street
After that, back at Toi Whakaari until further notice. Check the training newsletter or the ‘secret’ Facebook group (ask a member if you want to join!) for any updates!
7-9pm as usual, $5 pay to the evening’s tutor or a committee member.
A 6 week course on Mondays starting January 12, 7pm-9pm
How do I sign up?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to register. Cost is $50, payment arrangements can be, erm, arranged.
What’s it about?
This will be six weeks of workshops focused on the skills needed to deliver consistent open scenes. While actual content will be tailored to the needs of the class, we will cover:
- Active Listening – hearing every offer
- Responding in the moment
- What/who is this scene about?
- Finding the game of the scene
- Starting in the middle of the action
Participants will receive (and are expected to reflect on) personal feedback, both during class and privately.
Pre-requisite: WIT’s Narrative/storytelling course or similar. You can discuss your suitability with the tutor or email email@example.com. Max class size 14.
The teacher: Jennifer O’Sullivan is a Wellington based improvisor, producer, publicist, and other such things. She has been a member of WIT since 2006 and improvising since way too long ago. She also works with PlayShop and Definitely Not Witches, directs the New Zealand Improv Festival, and writes an improv blog at letstalkimprov.tumblr.com
FINE TUNING: The art of directing improvised work
Directing often seems like the sort of thing you’d pick up when you’ve mastered everything else, and it can be intimidating directing performers we regard as more experienced or skilled than ourselves. In fact, even for beginning improvisors, directing is a very useful way to learn to analyse the structure and content of a scene, and to discover what inspires you as a performer. Continue reading
The WIT Chris Werren Development Grant (Scholarship Fund)
In 2013 the Development Grant was shared between Jennifer O’Sullivan and Nicola Pauling, both of whom used it to help with attending Improvention in Canberra. This follows on from a history of WIT supporting improvisers to go to Loose Moose (Simon, Christine, Geoff), BATS San Francisco (Wiremu), Impro Melbourne (Nat) and Improvention (Kate and Jen).
Darn guys, not enough of you signed up in time to make the course viable. But, there’s still regular Tuesday training happening every week (7pm at Drama Christi in Taranaki St, just turn up and pay $5 on the night), and the Improv for the Stage course on Monday nights in May and June sign up and info here. If you’re a WIT member the course will only cost you $80, and we’re very happy to work out a gradual payment plan if you need, just contact firstname.lastname@example.org).
Stay tuned to your Members’ Newsletter for info about other upcoming courses and events.
From a discussion in 2013 between some senior WIT trainers about “what skills do we expect Micetro players to pretty much have”.
Not a definitive list of course – we, as a group, regularly learn (or invent!) new shortform games, and some games fall out of favour over time, only to be rediscovered again a year or two later.
Basic object work
Entrances and exits
How to ask the audience for a suggestion
How to ask the director for a clarification
How to be a gracious loser or humble winner
How to be directed in a scene
How to narrate and share control of a story
How to gibber
How to speak in one voice
Generating characters (physical shortcuts, accents, attitudes etc)
Endowing partners (names, occupations, relationships, status)
Show structure, how it starts and ends
Simple songs, faking ‘em
Starting a scene with an activity
Story spine an starting in the middle
Voice – being heard, whispering loudly, being quiet
Do-ron/ Speed Do Ron / Elimination Do Ron
Experts (yes and)/ Arms Experts/ variations)
Gibberish switch (talking in gibberish for an interlude)
He Said She Said
Le Ronde (simple quick rounds)
Machine -> Wanky Poem
Movie in a minute, other replay games such as Replay Fairy Tale
Numbers of words
Oscar Winning Moment (It’s Tuesday)
Popup Story book
Quick large group games - Questions Only/. No Questions, No S etc, World’s worst
Reminiscences (Reunion, Old Folks’ home, Retired Superheroes)
Room of Death
Short scenes, especially the likes of death in a minute, ends with I love you, Who loves who the most
Silent scenes (e.g. bus stop)
Slo Mo Commentary
Speak in one voice
Spoon River, points of view story
Story story die
Tag Out Story / Tag out song
Touch to talk
Typewriter/ Myth/ Narrated story
What Happens / Next Evil Voice
Word at a Time
Year book photo / Family Photo
Three (sometimes more) teams of 2-4 people compete in a series of improv games and open scenes judged by the audience. An MC keeps the show moving and acts as a director of last resort – but effectively the teams are in charge of themselves.
Ideally form teams well before the show and train together, so that when you are on stage you know how to make the most of each other’s strengths, and what will inspire each other. Give yourselves a team name, pick a team leader, even create a cute little pose or chant to introduce yourselves.
Typically there are four rounds for Battle of WITs, with eliminations after the second round and (if more than three teams) before the last round – the MC will manage to the time available and the number of teams. At the end of a scene teams stay on stage, as the MC asks the audience to judge “was that a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5″. The MC may also arbitrarily add or deduct points for any reason at any time.
- First round is the Blind Draw – the team leader will pick a game from a hat. These will be open ended suggestions that draw on base skill games – for example, the suggestion might be “a poem” or “word at a time” or “speak in one voice”. As a team decide quickly how you will respond, for example if you get “a poem” you could choose to do a Wanky Poem, an Epic Poem or a Sea Shanty. There is a time limit for this round, the MC will let you know when your time is nearly up.
- The second round is Team Favourite - what you will tell the audience is your teams chosen Favourite Game – actually have a few favourites to select from, as you don’t want to do anything that’s too similar to another teams’ pick, or to a game that appeared in the first round.
- Third round is the Team challenge – the team leader from another team sets a condition for the scene, which will be an open scene of some kind. Don’t make these challenges too restricting or gaggy, for example “take your inspiration from the word purple” is better than “everyone must speak in rhyming couplets”
- Fourth round MC Challenge – at the whim of the MC. This is usually the final round, depending on time. As an example, the MC might require each team to use a member from an opposing team to start their scene.
Teams who’ve been eliminated may still come on stage to be props or furniture or a transient marching army if called for, but just remember whose scene it is.
Based on a suggestion from the Internets that there should be a game where, when someone yells “Shatner” everyone wildly overacts. This elaboration on that brilliantly simple idea evolved during the WIT workshop of Tuesday October 15th 2013, almost certainly a day that will live in infamy.
Start with an audience suggestion of a location. As many people as wish to participate line up on the edge of the stage.
- Person A starts on.
- Person B enters, interacts with person A.
- Person A finds a reason to leave.
- Person C enters and interacts with person B, until person B finds a reason to leave.
- Person D enters and so on . . .
The goal is to quickly establish characters, relationships and motivations. And leave.
However, if the director (or anyone else inspired) yells:
- Shatner – wild overacting happens
- Spock – switch to dead pan robotic acting
- Red Shirt – someone dies very quickly
- Shatner Sings – one character starts singing in the style of someone who doesn’t sing well, basically talk-singing
There are many fine illustrations on YouTube of the difference between talking to a sandwich as if it were Yorrick vs responding to an imploding universe with a mild eyebrow raise – for example
Note from Maggie Cargill (from the WIT Members Facebook group)
So guys, Brenton Hodgson and I mind-melded on a brilliant idea to do some more Improv Lounge in October. We agreed that we want to get as many new WIT people performing as we can! And by new, I mean anyone who’s keen. Which means if you’re in this group you can play!
So here’s what we’re going to do: the next few Playful Tuesdays I’ll be running a Stitch Tactics* style workshop detailing some short-form games for the purpose of putting them into a show. Some of them you’ll know, some you won’t! We’ll also discuss the show format and practice some staging.
So, if you want to play come to Tuesday at Drama Christi and I’ll have a sign-up sheet so I can cast the shows. If you can’t make it to the trainings, shoot me a message.
I also seed some FOH help for those nights if anyone is keen!
If you’re debating whether or not you want to/can/are ready/ you’re nervous about performing then this is a perfect opportunity to “follow your fear” and take a chance. You’ll never get better if you don’t!
So be at Drama Christi (65 Taranaki St, building to the right of the church, entrance at the back), 6.30pm Tuesday 8th.
*Stitch Tactics is my old troupe from KC. We’re indirectly influenced by Chicago-style improv but have developed our own style. It’s sure to be a spicy new take on what you know!
Establish characters with relationships, by checking into a hotel or a convention, and endowing each other. Five or more players. Game shared with WIT by David Innes, of Melbourne’s Impro Box at the 2013 NZIF.
The first player comes up to an (invisible) hotel receptionist, and faces the audience. They establish the location of the desk and where the receptionist is sitting. Then they name themselves, why they’re at the hotel or event, before naming and endowing a subsequent arrival. ["I'm Lady Fothersgill, here for the Taxidermy conference. Has my assistant Snivers arrived yet? That wretched girl is always late, with more hair than wit"]. They take their room key and leave. Continue reading