Jason Chin For The Win

by Jason Blackwater

Well, that was fun! I’m feeling excited. You are a brilliant person, Jane. For the purposes of this blog, Jane, you’re name is Jane. Is that OK, Jane?

Jason Chin was over last week for bit of focussed work with the Maydays and boy did he hit the emotion button. Brilliant! I could not be further from being an emotional improviser so I was feeling the pressure. I got a great deal out of it, though. not least these insights.

Names

Names are so important, Jane. they really are. not only do they create a sense of personal knowledge between you and your scene partner they can be used, Jane you need to listen to this, to call back characters from other scenes. If you want to see a character the audience has seen before, call them to the stage. It’s such a simple idea but so many improvisers, me included, are TERRIBLE at names in scenes. it gets to the point where a scene has gone on for so long people get so scared that another character has been named, by them or someone else on the scene, and that they’ve forgotten, that they daren’t refer to them by name in case they get it wrong. Pro Tip: call ’em something early and call them that name a few times so they, you and anyone else on stage with you gets the point.

Relationships

Is the fire fighter in the scene who’s just saved your house also your brother, or aunt, or boyfriend? An existing relationship between characters on stage creates a shared knowledge and history that can be referred to with ease without spending the first minutes of a scene introducing each other. I believe it doesn’t have to be a deep personal relationship but maybe you’ve already been talking with that fire fighter for 5 minutes or an hour before the scene starts and you have that shared experience to draw on.

Emotions

How are you feeling, Jane? Alright? Annoyed because I keep calling you Jane and you’re not called Jane, you’re really called Julia, or Kevin, or Fitzgerald? Tell me. How do you feel? Feelings are key because if you base a scene on people reacting with feeling on stage then you will, if no games emerge, be left with an engaging, watchable scene. if you go out on stage without that and your wit fails you, you’re left with nothing. Also, how you feel at a given moment is a great tool to fall on if you’re stuck for something to say. “that makes me sad” “what are you trying to say?” “I wish you were my mum” You should also make bold choices. An appropriate emotional response creates drama. An inappropriate emotional response creates comedy. Both are great!

I feel like my passion for improv has been invigorated. both as a performer and an advocator of the art thanks to the past week. Not only because Jason is such a great teacher, and he is, but through realising that there is such a big hole in my understanding of the emotional side of my work and that I can always learn makes me want to learn more and for others to start a journey through improv. I’m going to Chicago to do more in the Summer. Maybe you should think about what your next step is. What do you reckon, Jane?

You with me?

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