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August 18th, 2006

SF: nothing, nothing, nothing, something

wednesday we checked out of the hostel, and i was going to get a tour of pixar, but the plans got muddied up and instead I checked in early to the hotel near BATS. two more of my troupies showed up: marc and jason. they joined us for lunch, then IFE took a walk near the coast, taking pics with the golden gate bridge at the background. then we went to BATS for the orientation, where we saw pgraph. yay! orientation involved administrivia and actual improv. then i decided to skip theatresports raw, and instead went to another indian place with marc and the leading brands. They had good tandoori chicken, but nan 'n' curry has amazing lamb chops tandoori, which marc's place didn't.

then off to pgraph's room party. but leading brands wanted to leave early. so we only got to chat a bit.

thursday: ah yes. actual keith johnstone. that guy is brilliant. he makes beginning improvisers do amazing scenework, because he takes over and rescues the scene when it goes bad and makes it end a really good manner. a lot of the stuff he says is common sense. some of them are just things like "no rules", and he says it's ok to kill ideas. i guess "yes, and" is more for beginners. relax on stage. have no fear. "nothing, nothing, nothing, something", mantra: i want nothing, and more stuff. but i'm too lazy to do complete notes on LJ.

oh. i finally saw "theatresports" it's like meastro, but more opportunities for longer scenes. it's two teams instead of individual improvisers competing, and there's judges who give scores. i like it. and BATS has an amazing pianist. better then the IO shows i saw which had annoying intrusive musical accompaniment.

SF: i'm feeling so good about improv

i've done the chicago improv festival intensive which had teachers from annoyance, ucb, second city, comedy sports and io. i've had teachers from both the johnstone and chicago schools. and i've decided that i really love johnstone-style improv. and it's just so inspiring. the intensive reminded me of all the fun i had in my beginning improv classes, and i love how they don't teach about how to be funny. gags are only appropriate to end scenes. keith mentioned how we could've have continued a scene after the gag, but it had damaged the scene.

also, keith johnstone emphasizes the story-telling aspect. it's not just about having a scene and making the audience laugh, it's about making the improvisers get out of their comfort zone. if they've got a game down, then do another game. challenge them and get them flustered. the scenes have wierder stories, and it's immensely satisfying.

also, the other training i've gotten emphasized on how to be good at improv. whether it's "finding the game", being aggressive with offers, no questions, etc. keith is more about life. what he talks about seems to be more about life, he rambles about trance states. he talks about in meastro, it's not about winning. and he really emphasizes it, instead of just saying patronizingly that "it's not about winning" he says there's an element of meanness in trying to win. he also teaches about being good-natured in losing. if you lose and have a bad attitude, you make the audience have a bad feeling. meastro is a competitive improv format (10 pm hideout, sat). i've been not wanting to play because i feel like crap when i get eliminated the first round. it's like, i suck, or my partner sucked, or the director sucked, or what's the point of performing to get eliminated first round. but it's totally the wrong attitude. it should be, i'll play because it's fun. keith said meastro shouldn't be for people who don't get much stage time... because then they'll care too much about stage time in meastro.

good-naturedness. the atmosphere is good-natured here, and so supportive. the austin scene is awesome, but i really wish there's more good-naturedness around, but i guess we're all still young in some ways.

we also did some mask work. it was creepy. william hall said that all cultures have masks in them.

i really feel good about improv right now.

keith is crazy. and he says some really critical things sometimes, but for some reason, it isn't offensive. maybe because he tells how to fix it as well.

that guy is briliant.