Sunday, April 15, 2007

99 bottles of beer on the blog

Yep. We're up to post 99. You're all invited to celebrate #100 with us as we commemorate the momentous occasion by proceeding with business as usual...

Now to turn this into a real post:

After last week's scheduling snafu, we finally had our first post-retreat rehearsal for Kinderspiel today. Here's what we learned:
  • Our threshold for boredom is extremely high. I was worried that in the work we were doing, we would be challenged to give ourselves permission to push past the place when repeated tasks, games, and play grow dull, but I just don't think we're ever going to get bored.
  • 15 minutes of improvised play can be easily repeated. I gave a simple scenario to be explored. 5 actors would pretend to be asleep. I would tap 2 while their eyes were closed. When I clapped my hands, they were all to wake-up. The tapped actors would playact as giants and the other 3 as kids. I just let the improv roll for 15 minutes on camera. Afterwards, we talked about the inner logic that people were using to explain their role in the playworld and we collaboratively narrated the improv as a Grimm's fairy tale; it was no more or less absurd than any of those tales. I asked them to repeat the improv without losing the sense of spontaneity and discovery, and it ran 14 minutes and 40 seconds...the only thing that really distinguishes the two improvs on tape is that I stupidly tried to zoom in and frame shots in #2, basically meaning I lost most of the action.
  • You can't MC unless you know your audience. Intuitive though it may seem to be, it did not occur to us that it would be difficult Alexia to experiment with the role of master conferencier without giving her any background on the fictional audience to which she was pandering.
  • In developmental work, failed exercises are just as useful as successful ones. Like any other laboratory group, sometimes we put an idea out there that falls so miserably flat that we just mop it under the risers and pretend it never happened. In Kinderspiel, however, these exercises are just as important to the feedback loop, and today, one of my (overly ambitious and complicated) activities flopped but nevertheless yielded some of the day's most productive advances.
After the day's highs and lows, we headed over to Sympathy for the Kettle to guzzle some tea and sort out how we should proceed. The current formula:
  1. Videotaped improvisation of a simple scenario (i.e. 2 giants and 3 kids wake up in the same space)
  2. Group discussion of the improv's kids-logic and literary tropes
  3. Before the next rehearsal, Kiran prepares a draft of the improv, rewriting it to reference said tropes more clearly, weave into societal analogues, metaphors, and morals, and add narration for the MC.
  4. Try to fuse the original improv with the new text without losing the spirit of spontaneity.
  5. Create an embarrassing video montage and post it on youtube (Optional)
At some point in the not too distant future, we're also going to need to begin kinderspieling as Weimar characters instead of as ourselves. We'll probably have the actors research photos and histories to develop a character and then see how these characters can play together.

Assuming that the final "product" for which we're shooting will be a sort of neverending story in which characters, props, and space continually transform to become new characters, props, and space, we need to explore what happens to the kinderspielers when they are not actively involved in the moment's play. Do they sit down and play cards and drink beer? Do they break-off into smaller groups and parallel play until their play intersects with the narrative again? I think we'll actually have to kind of reverse-engineer this: for the time being we'll just have people leave the stage and then, once we figure out how they'll need to reintegrate into the narrative, we'll find something for them to do onstage that can develop into the role they will need to serve in the story.

Simple, right? We'll see how this all goes...

No comments: