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back row: Otis Otis, Wally Otis, Lil' Francis Creampuff, front row: Virginia, Spongy Possum, Margaret, Zero

Clown

The Clown is you.

It's so simple.

That's why it's so hard. And fun!

Clown

Clown: Discovery, Game, Ensemble

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The Beginning:​ GENEROSITY • EXPRESSIVENESS • VULNERABILITY • GAME: STAKES APPLIED TO THE RIDICULOUS

Start with the body and find an elastic connection between physical expression, emotions, and imagination. Investigate game: what a game is (hint: it has 4 essential elements!), how to discover a game, and how to play it for the audience with complicité! It sounds fancy! It's French! (It just means complicity but it's more fun to say it the French way). It means you are having a real conversation with the audience, with your colleagues on the stage, and with yourself. Work mostly improvisationally to discover organically without following formulas. All this on the way to discovering your clown. Your clown is you. At your most playful. At your most ferocious. At your most vulnerable. At your most honest. And with a colossal hunger to show - even though you got nothin' - no script, no good ideas, no fancy lighting, no flying Cadillac cars. All you got is your hope and desire to be hilarious and beautiful. That's enough. In fact, it's everything. But what if you don't do it right? Excellent. You are wrong already! You are advanced! 

What you'll walk away with: You might use what you learn in this class as a basis for whenever you perform, but certainly when and if you perform. You will have begun the discovery of your clown, found a name, and detected something about the fundamental physical and emotional articulation of your clown (your self).

 

The Middle: CARE • SPEED • FUN • STRUCTURE

​Make some funny stuff to show the audience! Bring us what you care about, what you love – you do not have to be cheerful, most likely you are not - but you have to care! We'll find the play that exists in the connection between the clown and the audience – in the generous gesture the clown makes, the response of the audience, the listening, and responding back and forth. Let your pursuit of fun lead you. Speak the truth – cop to what is really going on. Resist the flop! Invest in the covenant between the performer and the audience to do whatever you can dream of to bring us something amazing. When we make material we will remember that the schtick must serve the clown, not visy versy. Make the audacious proposal that the actor is more interesting than the schtick. 

What you'll walk away with: 5 minutes of individual material! Performance experience and experimentation with the tension between having something planned and keeping it open enough to let your performance continue to have life. Skills to build material tethered to your clown.

The NextRELATIONSHIP  • THE UNPLANNED EVENT • BEYOND THE NOSE

Now we approach playing in an ensemble which allows for more exploration of relationships both inside the games and between the clowns as they attempt to play those games. Games are found by the actors in improvisation and predicated on the unique characteristics of each clown and the enthusiasm of the clowns for their stupidest ideas, favorite dreams, and greatest loves. Unplanned events may happen in real time that interrupt the show and become their own game – one clown forgot something, another brings up what happened in Prague in 1988 (again!), one gets distracted by someone in the audience, one can’t remember how to do it, etc. As always the clowns play through the audience in real time. As we take on this level of work, having achieved the degree of physical and vocal expression required to support the mask (nose), some may find it more satisfying/useful to pursue performing without the mask - making more of a physical comedy show driven by the spirit of the clown. 

​What you'll walk away with: Participation in a full length show. Performance experience and experimentation with the tension between having something planned and keeping it open enough to let your performance continue to have life in a group! Skills to play improvisationally (both inside and outside of games) in conversation with the audience. Preparation to join a company.

Commedia

Commedia

Put your fun in your body. 

 

Move it around.

 

Unstoppable.

back row: Otis Otis, Wally Otis, Lil' Francis Creampuff, front row: Virginia, Spongy Possum, Margaret, Zero

Commedia: Character, Generation, Ensemble

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The Beginning: PHYSICAL & VOCAL ARTICULATION GAME • IMPROVISATION • GAME  • MASK TECHNIQUE • META

Commedia starts with (guess what?) the body! And the voice! We call it Commedia instead of Commedia dell' Arte to signal that we use the archetypes from Commedia dell' Arte as a jumping off place, investigating how to bring the masks to life in a contemporary context (like right now!) rather than pursuing some idea of how they did it in the Renaissance (which we don't really know anyway and which might be of little use to you unless you happen to get cast in the yet another production of The Servant of Two Masters -it's a sweet play but seriously, again?!) The masks will connect you to your body and voice in a vital way and enhance the way you create character. They are crazy magic and allow you to discover games in exciting and unique ways like full pantomime hypotheticals, simple rhythmic and gesture games, verbal gymnastics and "The Cascade"where one thing makes you think of another and you get way off topic as you pursue your fun from one game to another.

What you'll walk away with: A foundation in mask performance and physical character creation. An understanding of how to move the focus of the audience to show thought process and character relationships, and create connection with the audience. An introduction to commedia games and how to employ them in all types of comedy.

The Middle: MORE GAME! • POETRY • SPEED • SONG • YOU IN THE MASK

As you build more reps under the masks you will start to find more and more of your own unique way to support each one and unlock each one's possibilities for both comedy and poetry. We'll work improvisationally as, through provocation and support, you find your flow. We will continue more deeply experimenting with the Meta and the 2 levels of reality: actor level and character (mask) level, inherent in performance. We'll investigate status and status relationships. Extra time will be allotted to some of the technical elements of pantomime and act-outs, and when we touch upon particularly emotional, human, exuberant or poetic moments we will invite song. We'll continue to insist on talking to the audience, complicité, and start to learn how to work the room.

What you'll walk away with: 5 minutes of individual material! Performance experience and experimentation with the tension between having something planned and keeping it open enough to let your performance continue to have life!

This class culminates with a performance. 

The NextANARCHY • 1, 2, 3 •  THE FULL HYPOTHETICAL

 

Now we approach playing in an ensemble which allows for more exploration of both the relationships between the masks and the relationships between the actors, and the traveling from one to another. (This is where that meta training in 1 & 2 really starts to pay off!) We'll identify your status as an actor in the ensemble (1, 2, 3) and how to assert that in play. We'll construct some epic hypothetical games for multiple masks to play inside. We'll discover and set slick lazzi (games) while keeping those lazzi open for the anarchy of the moment as generated by the audience, the other actors or the other masks. By continuing to encourage character and game to be generated from you body, you'll be able to play quickly and discover a new nimbleness in your comedy.

 

What you'll walk away with: Participation in a full length show. Several minutes of individual and group material. Skills to play more than one mask and build material intrinsically tethered to that mask. 

Physical Comedy

Physical Comedy
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Sometimes people use clown and physical comedy interchangeably but they are quite different. While clown perhaps gives life to your comic spirit, physical comedy is the structure. Clown is a nice foundation for physical comedy but not a prerequisite.

 

 

In this class you’ll learn how to design and execute an array of physical comedy events which you can put into the service of characters/situations you portray in plays/film/video (they can tell you what to say but you have more license over your action) or of your own routines as a clown, stand up, variety performer, tiktok star, etc. Comedians (including physical ones) sometimes say, “you can’t teach someone to be funny.” You might detect how this statement could be just a tad self-serving. Of course if you are deeply committed to being boring there is little to be done. But that is surely not you! Truth is, design and execution of physical comedy is a skill you can learn, and then use to augment your artistic expression, and have a blast. Wanna have some fun acting again?! You make a playground for yourself and then you play upon it.

 

Over the pandemic, Virginia Scott developed at MTS a new physical comedy curriculum. It includes a handy dandy handbook! In this class, you'll analyze some classic physical comedy turns and then you'll build some of your own. You will have the opportunity to try out a variety of categories of physical comedy such as problems with objects, takes, distraction and flights of fancy, and we’ll investigate how to develop these games using rhythm, repetition, sequencing successes and failures, escalation, and of course sharing with the audience. Plus we’ll look at physically comic characters and their vocal and physical gestures. Develop the necessary timing to go on this particular kind of hilarious joy ride and you'll never be boring on stage or on screen (even when the writing or directing is!). You'll leave with a shiny new routine to take home for your very own.

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