I had recently come into a bit of a block with the group I have been directing. Not because they were or weren’t doing something but rather because I lost direction. We have been focused heavily on transformation transitions. This was a pretty amazing exploration in connection and bordered on artsy fartsy improv. We incorporate music and silent scenes into our Harold. We usually get a suggestion and then feel inspiration from it and run as far away from it as we can. This exploration was super fulfilling and very rewarding the first 4 or 5 shows. It started to get stale though. It was as if it was losing its freeness. I was struggling to find where this stifling feeling was coming from.
I started reading, about the Harold and Del Close, and reading, and then reading some more. Something I never thought id ever say when it came to improv, but we needed structure. Not in the traditional sense like something planned but rather a goal to reach for. I find myself saying to groups. “Set goals for yourself” and here I was not doing that in our workshops. I read that
would look for the deconstruction of a suggestion. http://www.impatient.ca/shows/harold/ He used the Harold to do this in the most complete way possible. I got a taste of this working with Randy Dixon but didn’t fully understand it until we hit this road block. The reason we weren’t feeling fulfilled after our sets was because we were being selfish (I remind this was all under my direction. The group is amazing and always jumps into everything head first. Very trusting and a pleasure to work with) we were simply purging on stage and not really allowing the audience in on where we were going. They could follow but probably not easily. Not only because they didn’t easily understand our inspiration from the suggestion (sometimes it was pretty obscure) but also because the transformations aren’t regularly used around here. They were seeing a format they weren’t used to. Del
When we were work shopping scenes they were great. Everything was on point. Then we’d try another run using our transformations and it was stale again. What was missing between the scenes solo and the full length run? A goal and focus is what we lacked. In the scene work we were taking the suggestion and having it directly shape the scene. When doing a run we took a suggestion and basically left it. BAM! It hit me.
From one extreme to another. Let’s work towards what I interpreted as
’s idea of a good Harold. Fully explore the suggestion using all aspects of the Harold to do so. So the goal you say? Take a suggestion, use it in the opening to literally shape the way the opening happens. Not just free associating from the suggestion but rather let it shape the pace, length, characters, weight, and the directness of it. We have been using Rudolph Laban’s Effort Actions http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labanotation#Effort to do character work but why not use it on the suggestion, Laban the suggestion. Look at the way the suggestion can shape characters, the scenes, the opening, the ending as well as the transitions. The suggestion should shape the entire Harold not just something for us to start from and leave. Give the whole piece purpose to the audience and allow them to easily see where you are getting your inspiration from and take them on the journey with you. Don’t just leave them in the dust and hope they catch up. This doesn’t eliminate any of the freedom we enjoy. It just gives us a purpose and something to work towards each time we step on stage. Del
Don’t just masturbate on stage. Make love to the audience because at the end of the day that is what we are here for, them.