Crushed! AL vs. Dan, round 1

Another week, more slacking off on MY SUMMER CRUSH posting!  And it’s already been a two-workshop kinda week, with lots to yammer about.  I hit up week 2 of AL Connors’ Advanced Improv workshop on Wednesday night, natch, but this week I also stopped in on the Foundations Workshop run by Dan Lajoie on Tuesday evening.  Had a good time at them both, I can safely say, but the question on all of your minds now is…which was better?  I shall now attempt to prove once and for all who is the better Improv coach…AL “Mrs.HM” Connors, or Dan “Hey, that’s not Brad McNeil” Lajoie.  I will attempt this in as nonlinear a fashion as possible.


Dan’s shop started with about 8 of us rookies, including a couple of his cousins and good guy Leslie Cserepy (always nice to have a familiar face in the crowd), and a surprisingly thorough limbering up/opening stretch routine.  Dan walks into nothing unprepared, folks..he’s a lot like Batman in that way (suck it, Affleck..!).  Over at AL’s shop the next day, he started us (mostly returned from the previous week, with a few sadly missing faces but Leslie and Ray Besharah tagging in, among others, yay!) with a few name game rounds, zipping around the circle to try and remember who the Hell we all were.  We acquitted ourselves…passably.

After warmup, Dan scored some bonus points by starting us off where Kirsten Rasmussen left off, namely with a little character generation, and a swell round of Hot Seat in which we all got to be interviewed as characters we created out of a single physical gesture.  I ended up as jo-E, male model for Sears.   And no, I will not answer any questions about Roebuck..!

AL had us all doing a mass game of ‘Freeze’, where two folks would do a scene on stage, and at any time someone could clap and yell FREEZE! And then take the place of one of the improvisers, beginning an entirely new scene from whatever physical position they inherited.  I had a good time with this one, once I reminded myself to stop staring and waiting for a position I thought I had an idea for, and just clap my hands, go in blind, and make something up at the last second.  It’s hard for me to turn my writers brain off and turn the improvisers brain on, but I’m starting to get it.  And it worked.  The game morphed into its evil twin ‘Bastard Freeze’, where you still clap and stop the scene, but this time order someone else onto the stage.

Dan’s character work continued, meanwhile (and 24 hours earlier), with some paired scenework.  Two of us would hit the stage (me and Leslie started things off this time), get a quick word of inspiration from Dan as to what our character would be based on…Leslie got Dust, and I got Trucks.  And a few seconds later, off we went, with angry trucker Jim Earl trying to get his radio fixed from a somewhat flaky clerk.  It was gold, folks, a sitcom in the making.

AL’s shop led to a round robin of scenework, with two-person scenes rotating on and off the stage in succession.  The twist was, the next person in the queue had the power to decide when the previous scene was ‘done’, either by natural high point, running out of steam, whatever.  It was an interesting experiment in editing.  My first scene with Jill, about a brother and sister who were maybe a little too close, could not have ended soon enough.  That led into me and Ray Besharah trying to crack into the Snakehandlers union, and the debut of my weak Australian accent for some reason.  Good times.

For enders, AL tossed a couple of classically deadly improv games at us…3-way dub, and stage directions.  It was kind of a sink or swim thing, but I think we managed pretty well…Me, Leslie and Jill had a decent 3-way dub about the pyramids, then Jill and I enjoyed some domestic violence stage direction style (the only way it should ever be enjoyed, folks).

I think I’m blanking on some stuff at the end of Dan’s shop…I blame the headache that knocked me out all day yesterday.  In fact, I think It’s still too early to call a victor on this one…I’m just gonna have to come back to both workshops NEXT week, and get a little more to go on.  Only fair.

MY SUMMER CRUSH is half over, folks, but still lots of great sstuff to come.  Tonight is not only Andy Massingham’s movement workshop, which is gonna be epic, but also the public debut of the Performance Ensemble that’s been training up since the beginning (including Laura Hall, wee Lauren, Joel Garrow, Dave Benedict Brown, Ryan Walsh and the Hai/yleys).  Saturday the legendary BAD DOG THEATRE rolls into town for what promises to be an amazing workshop and incredible show of THIS CANADIAN LIFE (which, by the by, I and some of my fellow advanced students will be opening up for…be there).  And then there’s the late show, which is utter madness by nature.  See you there, yah?  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

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