We are back in business! We had so much fun at rehearsal on Friday night. It was great to see so many of our old friends back together after the summer vacation, and we also welcomed several new faces to our ensemble this semester. We have a new actor (Mila) and 3 new facilitators (Kate, Becca, and Kaylie). As we mentioned last week, this semester, we’re focusing on writing our own stories for our final performance. This week we focused on team building with our new ensembles, and talking about different characters for our big show. Here's what we did:
Lawrence played DJ this week and led everyone in a fun dance party to songs like "Cheerleader" and "I Gotta Feelin'." We also played a game where we got to call out our name and show everyone our signature dance move.
Traffic was pretty bad due to some crazy rain and flash flood warnings, so we had a lot of latecomers, but we got started right away splitting into our new groups. Last semester, our 2 ensembles were The Royals and The Peace Signs. This semester we have two new groups called the Lemons and the Limes. Kendra and Peter anchor the Lemons and Lawrence and Katie anchor the Limes as teaching artists.
Once we got into our rehearsal rooms, we circled up and started some warm ups. Dance Party always serves as a great physical warm up, so these exercises focus more on breathing and voice work so we can communicate fully. Eva taught a fun tongue twister all about POPCORN!
After reviewing our Ensemble Contracts (see photo above), we played a team building game to help work on these concepts. One person stands in the center of the circle and points to someone else. That person has to make the elephant's trunk, and the people standing on either side become the elephant's ears. This game works on lots of skills. The Pointer has to make eye contact and be specific in who they point to so there is no confusion, and everyone in the circle needs to be focused and ready to act!
World’s Best and World Worst:
We first played this game during our summer Improv Workshop, so some of our actors knew it already. Together, we brainstormed lists of different characters (movie star, actor, superhero, firefighter, Queen, chef, etc.). Everyone took turns pulling a character out of a hat and then we had to act out the absolute best version of that character and the absolute worst. For instance, Rachel's "Best Doctor" asked her patient what was wrong, took her temperature, and said "Don't worry, I have medicine to make this okay." but Rachel's "Worst Doctor" saw her patient coughing and said "No way!". This game is challenging because it requires us to think about what different characters do and what makes them successful or not - it's not enough to just say "Hi I'm a Doctor" but you have to think about what these characters actually DO. Not surprisingly, in our talkback, most actors responded that they prefer to be the “best” version of something. But we had some awesome Worsts too. Alena was the “Worst Superhero” – her power was she could drop snakes all over everyone (that is a really terrible power!), Claire was the worst Movie Star and she just turned around and refused to face the camera, and Jack was the worst soccer player who yelled at the ref and his teammates.
Emotion Party Quirks
This is a popular game that you might recognize if you were ever a fan of "Whose Line is It Anyway". One person is hosting a party, and various guests show up. The host has to interact with the guests and try to guess what characters they're portraying. For our version, we focused on different attitudes/emotions our characters could have. Guests were Sleepy, Excited, Angry, Scared, Happy, Sad, Shy, and many others. We learned the best way to communicate your character is to use your voice AND your body to act, not just one or the other.
With teamwork and characters fresh in our minds, we broke into our smaller groups of 5 to start writing. Our first job was to pick a name for our teams. We stuck with the theme of Fruit so got to vote for our team names they are:
- Strawberries (Colleen, Lucas, Sam P, Lucy, Mila)
- Blackberries (Marissa, Natalia, Fletcher, Emily L, Sam R)
- Oranges (Alena, Jack, Rachel, Samuel, Emily K)
- Ban-apples (Quincy, Ben, Andrew, Claire, Hannah)
From there we had a conversation about what types of characters we’re drawn to. What are you good at? What character traits do you like? Do you like to be a bad guy or a good guy? We made tableaus showing off some of our characters to give the other groups a taste of what we’re starting to work on. Here are some first draft character ideas: Queen, Werewolf, Dog, Cat, Princess, Nurse, Cowboy, Superhero, Singer, Teacher and many more!
We brought everyone back together in the large dance studio to close out. We shared our new group names with each other and played a fun game to learn these names. Everyone stands in a circle. One person called out a different fruit and everyone from that group had to try to switch places in the circle. This requires us to pay attention to each other, remember who our teammates were, and move fast! We can also call out "FRUIT SALAD" which means everybody had to switch places!
We end every class the same way. This is a call and response blessing that Katie learned during her time at Shakespeare's Globe. Everyone stands in a circle and together repeats:
Next week, we'll be looking at Settings and Locations for our stories. Stay tuned to see our pieces take shape!