Instructor: Silvija Ojols
Date Taken: December 2008 

By the time I got to 301 at UCB, I had learned that I was good at identifying the game in scenes, OK at playing it, but also rarely played anyone but myself in a scene.  It was also my first time performing a Harold, a form I’ve grown to really enjoy.

Find out more about UCB’s training program here.

Class #1 – Scene Work & Pattern Game

[No Notes]

Class #2 – Group Games & Invocation

  • Group games can come from either specific initiation ideas or the funner / “weirder” ones.
  • Heighten with specifics.  If your game is gangsta figure skater, play the specifics of gangstas AND figure skating
  • Let’s see the action
  • Characters can deny each other all they want, improvisers cannot
  • Audience wants to know your character’s philosophy (if it’s the odd person / the game)
  • Personal Note: watch initiating weird/jokey scenes (zombie zoo, dead baby)
  • Group games – like normal scenes; you play till the unusual thing, and then heighten
  • Helpful to all start with the same attitude
  • Have to be clear with your actions, so everyone is on the same page
  • You get one “I hear you” per class i.e. this is one gimmick overplayed that also breaks the reality
  • Group games: They don’t come back, so you heighten quickly and you can build to “crazy town”

Class #3 – Group Games & Sound and Movement

  • a suggestion is like a question, the harold is like the answer.
  • Invocations – don’t dwell on only one area, explore other possibilities
  • Don’t want to be “madlibby” where you just repeat the specifcs of your first beat. You want to be energetic and have fun, and hit your checkpoints, but still explore.
  • If you find 2 games in one scene, pick only one and heighten it, hit it harder.

Class #4 – Group Games & Second Beats

  • Presentational Group Game
  • make sure you’re all addressing the same audience
  • can also do general instruction
  • try to create a game and build on each persons monologue
  • we want to make sure we play a game, not just interconnect plot
  • first gives playing field, second narrows it down, third sets the game, fourth and fifth play and heighten
  • play the game as specific as possible
  • Types of Group Games
  • group games
  • walkons
  • everyone scene
  • presentational game
  • tag outs

Class #5 – Second & Third Beats

  • Narrator
  • still want to find a game
  • narrator can add justifications, is not driving the scene
  • tag outs/walkons welcome
  • narrator shouldn’t be telling or scripting the scene
  • the narrator “snipes” in with information, heightening
  • third beats are quick, to the point, and hit the game
  • also want to look for connections between scenes, ideally playing the game of both scenes
  • can keep character (keep the fun as aspect)
  • super clear first line on 3rd beat scenes of establishing game
  • don’t forget to react
  • group games can mix and match
  • personal note: play with more emotion for some variety (characters too). old man was great. play more characters/emotions like that
  • you want to treat every offer from people as a gift, make your fellow players look like geniuses, scholars, and poets even if it’s off game (like in second or third beats). by denying offers you make it look like a mistake; by accepting and incorporating them, your team looks incredible.

Class #6 – Drilling Beats & Running Full Harolds

  • the basic of 3rd beats is to heighten, but can be plot/theme/game connection to other scenes.
  • Cocktail Party
  • each couple should still have a game in the conversation
  • you don’t want your connections to come too early (so you have more to draw from)
  • connections are more satisfying when they are game then theme then plot
  • don’t ignore offers from your partners, help them justify
  • in third beats, have to be looking for game moves, but also moves for connections
  • want to be looking for game, but never at the expense of not listening or ignoring your scene partner
  • you started looney, but that’s ok if you play honestly and both are on board
  • connection is better when tied to the game (even if you just reference through language)
  • invocation: ‘you are’ section should be more descriptive but also personal to you
  • play the game with more specifics
  • 3rd beats are quick. hit it, get the laugh, edit
  • scenes should be from the opening, not the suggestion
  • “yes and that shit right away”
  • making the first idea the best idea

Class #7 – Running Full Harolds

  • group games can be tagged out and then brought back in (basically switch to another place)
  • sound and movement- you can talk, not to do scenes but to match the movements
  • don’t forget your object work
  • strong characters can make games more apparent
  • even if scenes are funny, doesn’t mean you have a game. this makes it harder to play second beats.
  • when in doubt, confess something (easy way out if scene isn’t going anywhere)
  • dont be afraid of simple games

Class #8 – Running Full Harolds

  • Personal Notes: bigger characters, yes and everything
  • play the specifics of the game, don’t be coy
  • if the game is a weird character do everything you can to call that out about him
  • support that shit (the game, the people)
  • the third part of the harold can be anything that you think would be that comes from anywhere in the show
  • for second beats if you have an idea, come out with it right away so you don’t steamroll your partners ideas if he doesn’t pick up on it. or move on from there.
  • straight man play it incredulogy
  • be willing to jump in or be involved as the backline player.
  • you can also play other peoples games in the last set
  • don’t be scared to edit early
  • sound and movement opening – you can bring things back within the opening
  • personal: be ready to stay away from your stock characters
  • second beats can have people come in, tagouts, etc because 3rd beat will be connections
  • don’t forget to heighten AND explore
  • Duck duck goose: scenes are like duck duck goose. the goose is the game of the scene, but you still want to go and ground the scene back with the ducks, it keeps the audience surprised. traditional third beats can be goose goose goose.
  • keep the character even as a narrator, make it very clear who you are
  • “lets see it happen” if you’re talking about an action, we’d rather see the action happen
  • “connection island” – when all the characters come out and connect in one scene. it can work out if its in a game sense, not to just arbitrarily connect

Improv 301 Class Show

  • its hard to play in the middle, pick a side/make a choice if you’re between 2 things
  • remember when you have a weird character, we want to hear their philosophy, why are they that way?
  • have to be careful with starting with such a strong or big premise (smores with house on fire).
  • make it active by putting it into action
  • its not enough to have a premise of a scene, you have to have a game

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