Monday, March 22, 2004

Level 1, Ross White, Class #1

A coworker was telling me about his weekend plans to jack up part of the foundation of his house. Seems it was beginning to settle. They realized that there were cracks forming in the walls around the doorways. You don’t really notice those things when you live there and see them every day. But you can be sure that visitors notice them.

It’s important to check the foundation every once in a while. The bad habits may be small and you aren’t aware of them. But other people see them. And they will surely get worse if you don’t do anything about them.

Feeling the need to reinforce my foundation, I decided to retake the Level 1. I first took it about a year ago. In fact, Wednesday will be exactly a year from the first day of that class. I had no idea where I was going at the time. Still don’t, but I continue to be surprised and delighted by the journey.

Do I really need the Level 1? Maybe not. I know the basic concepts. Yes, and. If that, then what? Look for the nipples on the clovers (ok, that’s a Level 3 concept, but it’s just too much fun to leave out). As Scott pointed out in Level Elevendy Billion, at a certain point we internalize these things and no longer have to think about them. I don’t think that means we should completely stop paying attention to them.

I have weaknesses that I have been depending on my scene partners to cover for. This is not fair to them, to the audience and most importantly to myself. Specifically, I suffer from a persistent lack of confidence. This thing has been dogging me for years in all areas of my life and I plan to defeat it. Improv as Therapy, The sequel.

I believe this will be a fun class. The group is wonderfully diverse and everyone has lots of good energy to share. There are a couple of others repeating the class – Ethan and Mike. I haven’t been in a class with either of them yet, so yay! Mike’s girlfriend, Lauren is with us, too. She is very sweet, and I am glad he has convinced her to join us. We are not a cult.

We also have Paul, the very cool rock and roll guy who teaches swing dancing. Steve, the HR trainer – lots of energy, and it’s nice to have someone closer to my age around for a change. Joe, another cool guy, who works at the Y (Sorry, channeling Dr. Seuss). And Pete and Jeff, the freakishly intelligent high schoolers.

Laine, visiting from Utah, joined us for this one class, too. Sadly, she had to go back to Utah. Something about a job and a life and all. We’ll get her yet.

We started out with Zip, Zap, Zop. Then we passed the clap and added a bear, a lame doctor and something else I can’t remember. We played Bunny, bunny, bunny and changed it up Utah style. We played Bippty, bippity, bop, again adding some Utah flair.

It was fun playing these old games in new ways, and it was really fun playing them with people who were playing them for the first time. Seeing the games through fresh eyes really adds a level of fun to them. I can see why Ross loves teaching the Level 1.

We played a game I had never played before – Bear, alien, salesman. We split into groups of three and stood with our backs to each other, counted to three and turned around with the appropriate sound and motion for one of those three things. The goal was for all three of us to be doing the same one when we turned around. This was a lot of fun.

The first group I was in was successful almost every time. As we changed groups around it was not as consistently successful, but I noticed that there were some who would turn around with a neutral pose and adapt to the rest of the group almost instantly. I realized I was doing that, too.

I’m always saying the group mind is a psychic thing, but it really has a lot to do with the ability to observe and quickly adapt to what the group is doing. I still say a lot of us are psychic, though.

We played It’s Tuesday and everyone did really well. I am always anxious playing It’s Tuesday. You can’t hide in two lines. If you don’t do your share, it is instantly obvious. Though I am sure my hiding is pretty obvious to most anyway.

We played longer scenes and then replayed them with accents and styles. I tried to make a point of not being last to go up. That is step one of my plan to defeat the confidence problem. Important things to remember toward this goal: I think, I feel, I want. We played scenes where Ross prompted us to use one of those things to further the scene.

This will be a fun, challenging class. I plan to have my foundation well jacked up by the time it’s done.

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