Fizgig is a studio for the physical comedy arts: Clown, Commedia, Bouffon (for starters - Tréteaux to come soon!). Here we provide an opportunity both to train in these approaches and also to perform them. I'm thinking of it like an Improv school - with levels and student companies (in deference to my friend Scott who would yell at me and throw things, I will refrain from calling them "teams") as well as professional companies (I'm working to get you paid - eventually and probably not that much, but still!). Except instead of Improv, it's the physical comedy arts.
Check out the individual class pages for more info about what each form is about. The intro levels provide foundation so if you are a-skeered to go upon the stage or you want primarily to get at the vulnerability, actor-controlled invention, and physical connection provided by the approaches then level one is still for you! Or start at level one and arrive 3 levels later as an open, hilarious, beautiful creature of the stage! In addition we'll have a few special classes. These are short-term, shot-glass sized classes that focus on a certain skill like Physical Comedy Mechanics, The Pantomime Game or Acrobatics. And some more drop-ins: throw-you-in-the-pool affairs designed to whet your appetite for the possibilities and fun of the forms!
So why are both elements, the training (preparation and discovery) and the performing (doing it and more discovery), important? Let's take the second one first.
My ambition at Fizgig is to have companies (maybe some trios, duos, solos - a sextet!), and lots of them (listen up, ye gods of the 2020's!). I want this in order to bring the work to the world and also to provide students the opportunity to learn the performing part. If you learn how to do a thing, like perform Commedia for instance, then for one thing, now you can do it and it's wicked fun. And for another, when you learn the performing part you get all the benefits of the classroom preparation and discovery as well as the benefits of the experience of performing. Performing these approaches is the best training to be a performer, even when you will turn to tackling performing in a totally different style like a musical or the circus or public speaking or Shakespeare if you must (and I know so many of you must). It's the best because it teaches you to really collaborate with the audience, to craft the moment, to avoid the flop or truly play inside it.
Now for the first part second. Of course, before you can perform the thing you gotta learn how to do the thing. That's where the training part comes in. I've been knocking around a while and I've figured a few things out about how the forms work. Each has a set of discoveries and skills that you need to wrap your whole self around to truly make the gizmo whirl. Check out the classes page for more info on what the training looks like.
So this scheme is kinda audacious, I know. It would be a lot easier and more financially sensical for me to just throw down a workshop here and there and scamper away. And I've been nibbling that nut, believe you me.
But here's the thing. I am an EVANGELIST for the forms. A good Clown, Commedia or Bouffon show is the most thrilling, profound and hilarious fun to be found in the theatre. But at the moment, you won't find it enough. Too many times I have had the following experience. Students, excited and ignited by the work they've done and seen in class, catch me in the hallway and clandestinely, earnestly whisper, “Is there somewhere I can, like, go and see this, you know… performed??!” Sadly, I rarely have good news and I want to change that. "More good news!" say I.
Also, I don't see this work as only training to make actors better so they can score TV gigs or regional theatre roles (although it can definitely help you do those things). I see this work as the theatre I want to see - every night! - events that are alive, imaginative, moving, hilarious and in the moment, where the audience is included and the performers transport us into an astonishing, theatrical world. Events where the actors are primary - where the actor is the rock star. I want to continue the work I began at the Funny School of Good Acting building a community, making a place for physical comedians to meet and celebrate the work. The Commedia Company is up and running and we're planning to rock your world every 3 months or so with a brand new show! I've laid down a plan for training in the next year with hopes to get more companies off the ground by the end of it. No permanent space for starters but we're shining our laser beams on building toward a location where there can be classes in the day, shows at night and succor for the soul. I want to raise the profile of these forms and build an audience for them so that more and more people can get in on the fun that only Clown, Commedia and Bouffon can deliver and then I will look the next hopeful student in the eye and say, “Hell, yes! And you better hold onto your socks, sister!”
So, this is an audacious plan! Here we go go go!
Why the name Fizgig?
Fizgig is a laughing, wanton woman gallivanting and gadding about.
Fizgig is a sparkler or firework of some kind.
Fizgig starts with Fiz or "phys" as in physical.
Fizgig is some puppet from a 1980's cult fantasy movie I haven't seen - but that thing's spelled with two Z's and from what I've caught on the youtube, it's a cute but viscous muppet, which, as Jeff Seal said to me, is in terms of reference points "not bad."
Fizgig reminds me of Mr. Fezziwig who I love and who said, "It's not just for money alone that one spends a lifetime building up a business…." and Fezzik from the Princess Bride who I love and who said, "I just want you to feel you're doing well."
The Fizgig Way
The Fizgig way into the physical comedy arts is particular. For one thing, everything is made contemporary. It's not about doing it the way we imagine they did it in the Renaissance or the Middle Ages or in silent movies even. As artists, let's say something about right now and take on the themes, whether poetic or political, that are important to us. The forms are elastic and made to take place in the moment so it makes all the sense in the world to find them in the contemporary. And let's see you in the art. I want to put the actor at the center of the work. In class we mostly work improvisationally, so we can discover something from the actor and from the moment. Whenever I get a fancy idea and try to impose it on the actor, it's a big disaster or at least vaguely dissatisfying because it has become about how much I can get you to do some thing I think is funny or beautiful or both, rather than being about discovering the hilarious and gorgeous you together in the moment. This work is essentially physical because the actor's body and presence is the fundamental element with which the actor has to work. The words are important. There's lots of talking. But we make up the words in the moment from the impulse in the body! If we pursue the words first, up in our heads, we're really just acting as writers standing up (which is not a natural state for writers as I have been told that writing generally involves more sitting and the eating of potato chips.)
Virginia Scott - We're starting with me and building the training around my approaches to the physical comedy arts, which I didn't make up out of whole cloth but in collaboration with what I have learned from my many extraordinary teachers, colleagues, collaborators and students! I hope to add teachers as we get this thing cooking with gas. I don't want it to be about coming to sit at my feet, like I'm some kind of guru. I'm a kickass teacher, but I'm no messiah. One little added boon is that I am a woman who is founding this sucker. I would not say that I have a "woman's approach" but in some way or another all my approaches are a woman's... so I am excited to add that voice to the mix! My aspiration is for you to fall in love with the work and the fun to be had in class and onstage and in the audience and that you spread the word and keep coming back for more so that we can bring on more and more teachers to teach at Fizgig!
Virginia Scott co-founded the Funny School of Good Acting where she taught clown, commedia and bouffon. She is on the faculty of Movement Theatre Studio and the Michael Howard Studio. In 2018 Virginia created The Commedia Company, which performs contemporary, original commedia shows regularly. She also founded and directed Les Enfant Maudit, a bouffon troupe which raised hell and stirred upon trouble all around Los Angeles in the wake of the 2016 election. Virginia has devised new commedia, clown and bouffon shows with several super talented performers around NYC since returning to live in NYC (mostly) full time 2 years ago. Other recent commedia projects include an original commedia performance in concert with a full orchestra (kinda weird but super fun!) for Symphony in the Glen at the Griffith Park stage and another commedia show for the Fowler museum at UCLA. Also in Los Angeles she did some movement direction and devising for Disney (despite not being able to name a single princess beyond Cinderella and never ever visiting the park! Don't tell 'em!)
She teaches/taught clown, commedia, bouffon, play, treteau, or melodrama, and all that kind of wiggling it around at schools such as The Juilliard School, Tisch School of the Arts at NYU: International Theatre Workshop in Amsterdam; Meisner Studio; Stella Adler Studio; and Open Arts Studio, CAP 21, Bard College, Pace University, Marymount Manhattan College, USC (MFA), ACT (MFA), the Clown School, the Idiot Workshops and Berg Studios. Shows Virginia has directed and/or devised have appeared at Ars Nova Mainstage, 59E59, The Irish Repertory Theatre, The Zipper Theatre, UCB, The PIT, Nuyorican Poet’s Café, Jack, The Shakespeare Forum, The Tank, The New York Fringe Festival and the International Clown Festival; The US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, The Comedy Central Theatre, the Hollywood Fringe, and UCBLA in Los Angeles, and internationally at The Guilded Balloon in Edinburgh, The Centaur Theatre in Montreal and the Grahamstown International Festival in South Africa. TCG just published Discovering the Clown: the Funny Book of Good Acting. Go and get it at any bookstore you like! Or click here