Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Improv with The National Players

Quote of the Day:  Our mission is to tell the story. Marcus Salley, 2010-2011 member of The National Players

Marcus and Brian
showing us the "two heads are better than one" improv technique
(photos a little blurry because I didn't want to use my flash)

I'm doing it. I'm stepping out of my comfort zone and taking the time to embrace (remember my word for the year) new experiences, and my authentic self.

The National Players are in town to perform the Steinbeck classic, Of Mice and Men, one of my favorite stories, despite it's tragic ending. Maybe it is the tragedy, that we feel so deeply, that connects me to this story. Maybe it's something more, but I'll reflect on that tomorrow, after I've seen the show, which is tonight at 7:30 at Central Lakes College.

I am on the emailing list for the CLC theatre, and last week, Patrick Spradlin offered a one-hour improv workshop with The National Players. I said yes, then got nervous. What if I don't know what to do? What if they ask me to do something that makes me feel like a freak? What if I'm the only person over 20? What if I look like a foolish middle-aged mom trying to recapture her youth?

What if I don't go, then regret it?

So, I went, middle-aged insecurities and all. I've been wanting to do more with improv, drama, theatre, and coaching kids, so I knew this was my invitation. Plus, it was free. And, not only free, but in attending, I also got a 60% discount on my tickets for the show. Bonus on top of the bonus.

It was fun.

Player Alex and some of my classmates

I learned some great warm-ups and theatre games to do with kids when I start my Play off the Page theatre workshop next summer. (There, I've announced it, now it has to happen.)

We practiced greeting strangers by pretending they were long lost friends.

We partnered up for the "Two-headed" storytelling game.

My partner, Cody, was great. He looks a little scared here, but when he started the dialogue, he came to life.  For our "Two-headed" story, we broke into dialogue from the start. He played along great, threw me a couple curve-balls, and in the end we hit a "home-run." Seriously, it was about a scary bat in the corner, that we hit with a baseball bat, and scored. The teachers told us we were "advanced." (giggles and grins) And, I thought I wouldn't fit in.

I asked Cody if he was at CLC for the theatre program. He said, "No, I'm here for the computer classes." I asked if he was a writer since he came up with the story line so well. He said, "No, but my sister is." So, we played the part of older sister/younger brother and a controvesial operation. 

Afterwards, I chatted with a couple cast members, Marcus Salley and Patrick Hogan. They said that being in The National Players is like being in the "military of acting" because they have to learn all the rolls in theatre, from the parts they play on stage to how to set up and run their own lights and sound, haul in the props and set, construct it in a short amount of time, and be ready to strike it as soon as the curtain closes, pack it up, and move onto the next venue.

Hey, diddly dee, the actor's life for me... They must be humming that tune as they travel from state to state, performing in large and small communities and trying to meet their creature comforts all along the way. I have to admire, and envy ever so slightly, the freedom of the young actor, to be able to live on the road and have adventures.

I asked Marcus and Patrick what their goals are as actors. Patrick said he'd like to get back into film. He'd done a bit before he got this job, so once the year is up, he's back to Hollywood, I suppose. I hope I see him up on the big screen, or on my television some day. Marcus has his teaching degree. I asked if it was theatre or English. He said, "No, history." That's great. We have a huge need to bring history to life through theatre. He'd like to work with middle school. I applaud him and wish him well. I asked if he has done any writing. He said that he has. Oh, ya, another connection. Then, I let it slip that I'm a playwright. I said that I feel sad that there are almost no rolls for middle-aged women, and only a few for older women, where they only play the aging mother.  All the rolls are for the beautiful young woman coming of age and falling in love.  I said I was tired of that, so I sat down and wrote a play that I'd like to see or be in, or that my friends could do. And, those young guys encouraged me.

See what happens when you step out of your comfort zone and are willing to "Play off the Page?" Creative energy, new friends and experiences, and courage to do the next thing that makes you sweat.

Go. Create. Inspire! And, step out of your comfort zone today!

Learn more about The National Players here, or The CLC Theatre, here.

Thanks Patrick and National Players for a great afternoon! I'm looking forward to your performance tonight.

Journaling Prompt:  Describe a time where you pushed yourself to try something new and step out of your comfort zone. What happened? How were you changed?

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