This semester we're writing our own scenes for our final performance. So far we've figured out WHO we are. We've figured out WHERE we are. This week we focused on WHY we're there - the relationships that brought all of these characters together to these specific places. Here's what we did:
Peter was our Dance Party DJ this week. We grooved to “Problem” by Ariana Grande, “Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson and “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry. Peter played a game where he would pause the music and everyone had to freeze until he put it back on. Colleen especially took umbridge at this – no one can stop Colleen from singing Katy Perry!
Somer led us in a big group warm up. We did some breathing exercises and played a game called “Little Raisin – Big Grape” where we worked on making our voices and our bodies tiny and shrively, and then making them as big and full as we could. Then, Somer introduced us to a new game called “Puppetmaster.” The giant puppetmaster in the sky raised different parts of our bodies up and we had to hang like marionettes until our strings got cut and we crumpled. We could ask the puppet master to move certain body parts - Colleen asked to move our left arms, Rachel asked him to move our right hip and then our left, and Peter ask for him to raise our knees.
We recalled what we worked on so far (characters and setting) and talked about the theme for this week: Relationships. Usually when we hear the word “relationship” we think about romantic relationships, but there are all different kinds of relationships. You have relationships with everyone – even being strangers is a kind of relationship – and that affects how you act around them. We reviewed the schedule and the plan for today and then split into Lemons and Limes to get to work!
This team building game requires focus, listening, and connection to our ensemble. Everyone stands in a circle and we try to count from 1 to 10. But here’s the catch, only one person can speak at a time. If two people speak at the same time, we have to start all over. Many of the teaching artists have played this game at different times in their educations or professional careers - when we were lesson planning, Lawrence shared that his MFA Theatre class could never win. We weren't sure how the group would do with this. Believe it or not, both the Lemons and the Limes made it to 10 in only a few tries! The Limes actually successfully got there FOUR TIMES (they developed a strategy where everyone held hands and took a big breath together before starting). The Lemons did so well they upped the ante and tried to count to 20. Many of the games we play are just for fun, but it was really satisfying to play a game that we could WIN. We'll definitely bring this one back throughout the semester.
Here To There
This game is a tried and true A.B.L.E. favorite! It’s very simple: everyone stands on one side of the room. That’s “Here”. The other side of the room is “There.” All you have to do is walk from here to there. First, we just walk from here to there like normal. But as the game goes on we add in different characters, emotions, or ideas to see how you move. For this game we started exploring some different types of characters (parents, grandparents, kids, athletes, best friends, enemies, heroes, villains). We thought about how some characters take up more space than others and move faster or slower than others. Then we put this physicality into the next game...
Partners would go up and pull a Relationship out of a hat and then would have to pose as those relationships. During discussion, we talked about how people use different levels (making themselves higher or lower), body language (crossed arms, facing towards or away from a person) to show their relationships. Here are some photos from The Limes tableaus.
An open scene is a really generic scene with 2 characters A and B. As written, there are no given circumstances and very little punctuation. Here’s an example of one of the scenes we used:
A: Do you want a mint?
B: No thanks
B: Wait Why
A: No special reason
A: Want one
B: Ok thanks
A: Thank you
We don’t know who these characters are, where they are or how they feel about each other – it’s up to the actors to decide. We worked in partners and pulled relationships out of a hat. This simple scene could be very different when played between Sisters, a Parent and a Child, or as you get to see in this video: Superhero and Super Villain (this video is also a great example of how we Drop In lines for our actors)!
We broke into our writing groups to hash out the specific relationships between our characters. Each group discovered that once the relationships were in place, other pieces of the story came together pretty fast. Relationships helped us to figure out which characters interact with each other, how they feel about each other, and how they get from one location to another.
After this we said goodbye to Colleen, Ben, and Emily K who left class a little early to attend the Homecoming Dance at Alcott. (Colleen was crowned honorary Homecoming Queen!)
Each group worked with Kendra and Peter in the large dance studio to review the choruses for the two songs we're Mashing Up. Everyone loves singing and adding in their own movements. When we sing, we have to:
- ENUNCIATE - use our vowels and consonants to make sure our words are clear,
- BLEND - match the volume of our voices so no one is shouting over anyone else
- Sing in UNISON - watch our conductor, Peter so that we stop and start all together at the same time to sound like one voice.
The Lemons started off here and then switched to the Program Room to play the Scarf Game and the Limes did the opposite so each team got about 10 minutes for each activity.
For this game we walk around the room. Lawrence would place a White Scarf on someone. The person in the White Scarf is someone everyone IDOLIZED (like Taylor Swift or Beyonce). We also had a Red Scarf. The person wearing the red scarf was someone everyone was SCARED of. Every once in a while, the scarf would switch to a different person, so we all had to pay attention and be ready to change. Afterwards, we talked about how this game made us feel: Did you prefer to wear the White Scarf, the Red Scarf, or no scarf at all? Did you like wearing the white scarf or did it get annoying to have people following you? (Alena disliked the White Scarf so much she was actively running away from her adoring fans) How did it make you feel to wear the Red Scarf?
Lemon & Lime Sing Off
We brought everyone back together for the last 10 minutes of class, and, for the first time, we tried our Mash Up all together! We could tell you about it, but you'd probably prefer to see for yourself
We circled up and reviewed what we did, what our favorite parts of class were, what we've learned so far, and shared the plan for our next class.
"I Take From the Heavens..."
Our friends who have birthdays before our next class - Zach (Sept 30th), Sam R (Oct 1st), Fletcher (Oct. 6th), Claire (Oct 10th) - got to lead everyone in our traditional call-and-response closing.