Improv Workshop, Saturday afternoons at Parkside


Drinkytown Longform Improv workshops Info

Here you will find some notes from shows, and other things you guys make me think about. Remember when I'm talking about forms I'm not talking about any strict historical or predefined's just my shorthand for the forms as we discover them in the 'shop. Eventually you'll all start feeling more confident improvising the structure itself so don't get too hung up on form. Also, any personal notes are notes for us all, just in this case yer the example. If a note didn't apply to every one of us, I wouldn't put it here.

May 28th

We have two dates at the Summer Session version of Drinkytown, which Brian Berrebbi is organizing. June 9th and 23rd. I am sorry we are not doing every week. You all did a great job of kicking it in and meeting my challenge. Your commitment, enthusiasm, and lovely performances has inspired me to keep it going. Miscommunication also stepped up though, so just two shows for now. If anyone has any other ideas for venues and want to organize it, great. Otherwise, let's just do these two shows and then go back to every week in July. Yay!

May 26th

I want the “Drinkytown Workshop” to do Red All Over shows all over town. The drinkytown name will travel, spreading the vibe that we’ve created at Drinkytown, with you guys doing the great work that I know you can do. It’s riskier to take things seriously, to celebrate someone else’s ideas over your own, to trust strangers, to get personal and truthful, and commit to trying to find meaning in the work. Riskier, but way more worth it. And more funny. Ya’ll have also proven that to me again and again.

So I invite, challenge, any one or all of you can book nights for the Drinkytown workshop to do Red All Over, anywhere you want. I’d like it if you could do all the booking, promoting, and communicating to other players but I’ll also help out. I’ll keep directing it, holding occasional weeknight workshops to teach new people or redirect, and addressing any trouble areas (altho there haven’t been any yet so no really worries there.) We may have a slot or two at brian’s show, I’m not sure yet. I’ll deal with him directly.

I want you to keep thinking of this more as a show than an ensemble, always with the needs of the show before your own...but it’s also YOUR show whenever you are on stage. You know that my goal, and what this show is good for, what improv is good for, is empowering the players. The power is yours to make this what you want it to be. I’ll step in as director only when I feel like it’s going off course (which again has not been my experience with you guys so I’m not worried.)

For starters, we’ll try to do coordinating on the Red All Over board.

You’ll be able to check in and see how many players are scheduled and so whether you’ll be needed on any particular night that you might be undecided. You all have a standing invite (anyone who has played or been at a workshop) to play all shows. If you want to book a date for the show, you can check people’s availability there. There’s also room to bring new people in to this form, so please anyone you think would be good, have them email me. You know I’m pretty open about any/everybody (except the jerks!), but just have them contact me first for the ok. In the past my only real qualification for playing was having seen the show before, so encourage anyone who is interested to come.

I will play with you guys sometimes, just watch sometimes, and be there in spirit other times.

How does that sound?

I got very excited about Red All Over again after watching you guys do it in the workshop, and doing it with you last week. I think it’s important work to be doing right now, not just for improv, but for THE TIMES. Oh, the times. Let’s start a grassroots movement to get people thinking, talking, improvising in a meaningful way, registering people to vote, handing out Nations, whatever it takes.

So be sure to come out for the last Drinkytown tonight. It's fitting to me that we're signing off with The Perfect Taco, the scrappy kids who pulled me back into coaching and hosting again in the first place. And Tiffany, Louie, and Zach, three Drinkytown regulars, and three of my favorites.


May 14th

The Drinkytown Saturday Workshop has been great, fun, and inspiring to me (and hopefully those who have attended.)

But it has been losing steam, I won't be around Saturdays this summer, and fewer and fewer people have been taking advantage of the performance opportunity at Drinkytown on Wednesdays.

I turned over the booking of the Drinkytown night to Brian Berrebbi with the hope that he will invite more people into that world, and make that place their home. That's why Armando and I started the night in the first place, those many years ago. Now Parkside has many nights of performers who are taking it, make it theirs. That is great! Keep it up.

So the next two Saturdays are THE LAST TWO SATURDAY DRINKYTOWN workshops. The 15th and the 22nd. At both I will also run through Red All Over, the fabulous and necessary political/current events form which we'll try at least for the next few Wednesdays at Drinkytown. If there's enough interest we may keep red all over going, book another weeknight for occasional workshop/rehearsals, but if there's not, we'll be giving up the workshop performance slot to give more people the opportunity to play. You've got 2 chances to show up and make it work! (Well four, the Wednesday performances on the 19th and 26th.)

Thanks everyone for all your love and fearlessness!

May 11th I’d like to try out red all over tomorrow if people are up for it.
If you didn’t make the workshop for it yet, at its most basic it’s a living room style lively conversation to inspire scenes. Back to convo, back to block of scenes.

Get there at 6:30 if you want to play. Read the paper, watch the noose. (Wow I just wrote news “noose”. I'm leaving it.) Get fired up.

Things to keep in mind are to be as outgoing, passionate, expressive, personal, and give and takey in the conversation as you can. Be more you than ever before. Agreement is key, no arguing of course, but also it’s less interesting if we’re all on the same page agreeing. Yes AND, not just Yes. Find a yes-y way to “disagree” with someone (usually that is best done by just being so excited by what they said that you are inspired to say something that is not necessarily in agreement with what they sai, in a positive way.) But everyone, every opinion is right (even when it's wrong!), and should be respected. If it gets heated, edit into scenes. If you truly disagree with something, show don't tell. Use your improv to show.

So , as I’ve emphasized in the other forms, this too is a celebration and exploration of diversity of personalities, styles, opinions and such. Support and discovery are still the primary ingredients.

The key is to get into the conversation, but not so much that it prevents the edits into scenes. Balance. Backline edits back into conversation by simply starting to speak again. It can be revisitation or new topic that hasn’t been discussed yet.

April 24th. Workshop is still great, especially wonderful today doing the dreams. Just for clarification, what we've been doing is more like "The Dream" game/form, interviewing audience for info about their life and then playing out what their dreamlife might be like. A "Dream harold" is what we did early on in the workshop, which is, loosely, harold done using your own dream imagery for monologues. I tend to call all longform harold, as I was taught, which I know is confusing. Anyway...

I’m getting guest directors in for 2 dates in May and likely most weekends in the summer (I’m gone a lot), or may switch to a weeknight in a rehearsal space if there is enough interest. I will get your feedback on what dates would be good for you as the time gets closer. Or we may just take a break for the summer. Updates will be on the website.

I am going to start working on the Red All Over form in the workshop for the next few weeks, and hopefully will get that up soon, maybe with workshoppers, some new folks, and people that did it in the past. With election season upon us, that is a good topical/political/personal form to do.

With that I now leave space/placeholders for these dates/shows, that I may one day write notes for:

April 21st Yay!
April 14th
April 7th
March 31th
March 24th
March 17th
March 10th
March 3rd Yay!

February 25th Nice opening. Nice variety of characters and rich information. Lifelines. Nice gift E. gave to N. "that must be exciting fixing motorcycles." N: well i haven't in years". Nice not a denial, but wistful. Use that later. Regret is the theme. T-I've said this before but hold on to your thing, if you get interrupted, say it again. Assert yourself.

First beat is guy coming to get reading. All computerized now. Stars or computers controlling your life. And you have a chart and discoveries about the chart to be made, whether it's from a computer or the stars, it doesn't matter. The scene isn't going to go anywhere if you two keep blocking action and doing tech talk. "I don't have a computer" is fine but be that guy, don't let it stop the action. SAY YES TO EVERYTHING. Yes this is my chart, find out what it says, who you are.

E and M starting motorcycles nice. Rice rocket. My dad started the Beatles. Nice E knowing M's dad because he knows everything about the Beatles. That's Yesing! And relationship. It writes itself after that. "I beat the shit outta Julian Lennon. Your history of other one-hit wonders you beat up.

E and T: good establishing characters right away. "do you have something preprinted i can read to the class." "i'm a reporter" good. Nice Tiffany taking charge and getting seductive. Jump on the CNN/Fox thing, cuz you gotta use what you know. Erik don't run from seduction, or run run run. Don't ignore it.

Music back into the party was nice. Nice saying it was your demo M. J: as a Luddite agnostic i reject all technology. Great. Remember that that's your thing now, run with it throughout. E: it's about drinking. Drink so you can accept technology. Great. don't let these themes die everyone! They're rich! Nice N with your palm pilot. Nice M as always with all the popcult name dropping. All of you that did it. There are tons of Beatles kids, keep that pattern going. Eric nice coming over to Mike. Nice stepping outside the party. Let them be outside everyone. E: Ringo? Dunno. Not his character. Don't make people something they're not. M: "too late for goodbyes" Great line.

K/E, great back to palm reading. You've got vibrations.

T/E T wants to be somewhere besides office. Go there! Be seduced!

Norry yes. But watch your questions. Make statements. Silver Beatle. Cockroaches nice name. Nice E: Shaboody. Like Shazam.

K/M did something wonderful I'm sure that I didn't write anything about.

Eric, yes. "I'm an idiot." Yes, Tiffany was left out there again in a car to be taken advantage of. Take it! Don't leave her hanging, or ignore her seduction!

Tiffany edited out of the last party instead of ending and you guys did the most wonderful thing by going into monologues. Everyone got to wrap up their story/character and threads and characters that were lost had a chance to come back. Beautiful. Use everything.

February 18th

February 11th

February 6th Show notes for the past few weeks coming soon. Just wanted to say great work everyone! The party is a nice thing to do for performance, so everyone can stretch out with new things you discover in the workshop. Now that it's on its feet a few times, we're gonna focus less on it in rehearsal, go back to exploring other longforms, lest the workshop become a rehearsal for the show instead of the show just being an extension of the workshop.

Show is at 7pm, we're gonna start closer to then. Please show up at 6:30. Warm up however you see fit--with others, relaxing on your own, whatever. Take it! But be near the stage, focused, beered-up, and ready to go at 5 till.

Workshop is ON for tomorrow. Seems I didn't have it on the page! Brandy is going to start making us coffee if you want to skip the Dunkin D.

February 4th

January 28th

January 21st Sent to my email list: Just a quick note to those of you who have thought about coming to the Drinkytown improv workshop but wonder, doubt, have questions. I honestly believe that anyone can do this work and everyone can benefit from it and have fun regardless of what kind of performer you are or even if you not a performer at all. The way I run the workshop allows for all kinds of personalities and styles to shine. It’s a low pressure but empowering environment.

In my political improv show Red All Over I grabbed a few interesting friends who were not improvisers and taught them quickly how to improvise, and they were great. It’s much more difficult to teach people how to be interesting. The fact that you are on this list at all says you are an interesting and interested person. There is no pressure to be funny. You will be encouraged to just be yourself and participate as little or as much as you feel comfortable. And the other participants are encouraged to support you no matter what you do. The number one rule in improv is making your partners look good, so you are always in good hands.

On the webpage there are links to some basic improv notes which might be helpful. But I think the best way to learn is just to get thrown into the water. That’s how I learned and when I was supported I knew I never had to be afraid again.

1/24 is cancelled but we’re back 1/31.

January 20th At workshop I think we discovered that "parties" can be in different time periods, locations, whatever. Just be aware of respecting whatever rules you establish at the beginning of any form. Different forms will have different rules, and you make them up as you go along. Look for the opportunities for new types of parties/group settings, and if parties do go linear into the future, that doesn't mean scenes have to. Try to avoid thinking in terms of plot--just go out and play with whomever and discover who you are and what's going on in the moment. The story will unfold much more organically if you're all not thinking about plot. We've also been discovering that the diverse choices fill out a much more interesting community, here and in forms like la ronde. Make the leap A to C, B will be filled in. Remember all workshop attendees are welcome to play Wed shows. And remember no 'shop this Sat the 24th, but see you next Wed and Sat.

January 14th-The Party form. Really nice, my favorite thing I've seen you guys do so far. Maybe we'll keep working on this a bit more. Structure functioned well, as a simple one that allowed you to just play the relationships and discovery and not fall back on premise and plot. Really fun, and it seemed like it just unfolded so easily.

We should try keeping party in same time, ongoing, unless there is some very compelling reason to change it (like M's wkshp poetry intervention). That way we have the opportunity to use the knowledge we get behind the scenes to resonate more in the party-- the characters don't yet know what we know (like, if Ls dad were to die in scenes and then back at party he's keeping strong, "he's gonna be ok") or maybe we can have more intimate or secret relationships in scenes that they then have to deny or hide in the group setting (like T's taking off shirt--we saw how wound up she was and why, K’s doc goes to male massagers). Scenes can also go to the far distant past. We could have seen M with his dad calling him a pussy for instance (great use of the suggestion btw, that, K the doc, etc.)

Think about it being a bit of a deconstruction of the characters at the party/deconstruction of their world. Think of the party being the play, the scenes as with brief windows backwards and forward, more broad (themes that come up, ideas of community), or more narrow (more intimate in one-on-ones than you can have in group. Also, with parties being in a straight linear future line, we ran into a bit of talking backstory. New discoveries, always.

First party: more give and take, K/T/L: jump in sooner. Party should be less two-person-scenic, more starting in the middle of things, cutting off abruptly from each other. We’ll have a chance to flesh out what we missed later. E- Less questions. Polite people do it in conversation, but make a choice instead. Make judgments at least, if you ask a question, react to the response, otherwise we don't find out who you are. But better not to ask questions, better to know each other, let us know who you are. K good doc. L nice: I like fishing too, nice when it came up later. K: How's yer dad? Ok, discovered dying and stuff but better to put it in assertion--saw your dad's charts...etc. Also "Mindy", outside people aren't gonna be as interesting as people we stronger choice is T as Mindy. Mindy got unceremoniously written out anyway, so don't create obstacles for yourself or create BIG obstacles, like T's mom calling on phone later. Nice M trying to get more outta E, ever been to a prostitute, too scared to ask for guy massage, etc. (Questions again, but it's more of a positive move, being the guy that's pushing, not an outsider uninvested question.) T: I wish people would ask me about my dancing. Great line. Great way to assert yourself in a character.

Scenes: M and K in hospital. Nice. Start with conflict but went past that to character. M bad pimp/thief. K telling him to go away, glad you stopped him. Yeah, go ahead and want it. Wanting something from those around you makes you get more inside the action instead of being high status outside observer. Try playing more vulnerable... it's riskier to want something but awesome because you just might get it!

E: he's not gonna call. Really great scene. I love that L did call, and the backline support, M as mom: Oh he didn't ask you (to marry him) yet, I'll let you go then. L trying to get through. Great character E: I wanna be the guy who's there for you when he doesn't call. T: but he did call....

L I'm cursed fishing scene nice. Being a pussy theme. Love M always asking people about their fathers. Is he a dick? No. Nice. Clued us back into dying dad idea. This is a nice example of exploring a theme using material that already existed. Don’t be afraid to let it stay there. The scene is about something, that’s enough. You don’t have to worry about story or how it fits in to the bigger picture. At least not while you’re in it. That’s the job of the backline to be helping make those connections if the appear later.

Kinda thot party being initiated again, but then became more scenic, E and K talking about male massage. Nice denial K : no Jorge. Good that became party again, finally. You could justify your entrance, were you in another room? Funny M: just dance to jazz, no pole? But then we talked about engagement so put party in future. Remember plot is less interesting than relationship. And we never wanna see people talking about what they just did or are going to do. Stay in the moment. What’s going on now. Now we were in danger of losing L/T attraction/tension/magic. Did E become a barber? Great. Fitting. There's another location then, if you went that route. Sharp objects. New hairstyles! Don't let anything drop! Nice L wanting to fight. Nice M: football or baseball? (but quit the questions!). E- react to K talking about the dancing girl being cornered. We know now you love her (or are falsely engaged or whatever).

L/T I loved the date to see you dying dad. Beautiful. Phone call great. E: watch the sunset and talk about your feelings. Call me back when you're ready to be honest.

M/E/K great backscratcher justification from M's car initiation. Great dad dream E: we both have guns! (As you're being massaged by man and machine and creepy M saying Junior!) K- you left just as it was getting uncomfortable! Don't! Let it get creepy, they'll get you out in time. Or not, but what's the worst thing that can happen?

M/L/T nice callback to your car scam and drive back. I like L calling you out on being a broken record. Tijuana.

From here some really nice moments but don't go too much to plot. Still can have characters make new connections, discoveries in the wrap up. But nice final party, just being in the future had a bit too much of a typical wrap up feel, if you know what I mean. Have characters control the end, not whatever expectations you might have (as an improviser) for plot or form. (Kinda the same thing but coming from different places...What does my character (and really you) want versus outside ideas of how stories are supposed to end.) But cool!

I think next time we'll use the suggestion to also suggest what kind of party it is, try that out.

This Sat, ladies are $5 for the workshop! No workshop the 24th!

January 7th- Workshop warm-up "I am" form. Really great show. Lots of people, lots of energy. I think this is a good thing to do when there is a large group, since it's loose and personal and you all have framework in your vocabulary. I didn't take notes, so sorry I'm light on the specifics but may return and add later. General note: don't be afraid to try something new if the work starts to go in a certain direction, even if you don't know what you will do after that move. Trust. Be aware of levels. Go ahead and make an E move, he pumps energy in there when it's needed. Also don't be afraid to stop the funny, start a serious scene if you feel like change of level or direction would be good.

December 31st- Form inspirations: Goon River and Dream Harold
I played since there were only 4 so can't say much-- but loved it, had fun with both. Haven't done that kinda stuff in a long time!

Here is some reading material:

Harold Description for background and terms
Some improv history and incitements
for fun
Info about the workshops
Red All Over form to return.

Parkside Lounge 317 East Houston (E of Ave B) F/V to 2nd Ave

Drinkytown history

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