LEAPpost 3: forms and secrets

Today, Bobbi put a bunch of big pieces of construction paper up on the walls. They were divided in black marker into four sections, and the sections filled with “forms”. One might go: Cards/3 monos/decons/char. mono/cards again/char. mono/decons (callbacks)/fugue; or, Quotes/2 monos/ A1, B1, C1/short decons/A2, B2, C2/2 char. monos/A3, B3, C3/Family ronde/Fade. Each of these describe an hour of long form improvisation and are descriptions of various combinations of actors, types of scenes and long-form “devices”. Such has been the nature of our “training camp” this week, that when I came in this morning I could read the nine different forms she posted as if they were baseball box scores. We have been trained.

So my desire for structure has been met in spades. Even so, after our first form today, Bobbi admonished me to not initiate so much. It is my tendency to jump in and make a big offer right away, or edit too quickly. I even snogged a scene before editing it, and the two actors just looked at me like, are you changing our location for us? I had an extra cup of coffee this morning and it showed.

The five of us have gotten to know each other well this week. On a long-form level, we are beginning to know what each of our tendencies are, our character types we default to, our comfort and danger zones. We each have unique rhythms, and in some strange way, an essential aspect of ourselves is revealed in blazing relief through the many, many characters we have invented this week. We feel very much like a tight ensemble to me, and so the training camp metaphor is apt. We are a team now.

But on a deeper level, as friends, we are getting to know about each other’s private lives. Our rehearsals begin with “check ins”, where we sit in a circle and talk about how we’re feeling. These are occasionally venting sessions for one vexation or another, sometimes tender confessions about the strain of being parents, artists, homeowners, spouses. And our forms will sometimes begin with cards we fill out anonymously, which describe a secret or something we want to say to someone but haven’t. After a bit, you begin to think you know whose handwriting is whose. And the secrets and things unsaid have been sometimes funny and sometimes profound. Then, these vexations, confessions, secrets and unsaid things are the inspiration for the creative form which follows. I have found myself watching my friend perform a version of my deepest fear through a character he has just invented. Sometimes, I am in the scene with him, playing someone else.

Tomorrow, we add our first audience. In one of many ways Bobbi reminds me of Fava, she knows it is all about the audience, and there is only so much to be learned without them. So tomorrow we will have a small group huddled in the rehearsal room with us. We’ll see how much of our personal revelations we will share, and whether or not I can rein in my initiating-itis.