Monday, March 17, 2008

Open Call take 2

Last Wednesday was the last open call of the term (maybe the year, the last officially scheduled Open Call) So what Christian did was he let us run it ourselves and oh was that a massive disaster.

There were tons of people, maybe 20? And there were plenty of ideas but no one stuck with any of them, and people weren't really listening or helping much, and there were always people just standing on the edges and the improv went on forever and it was tedious. Just tedious.

So it was a remarkably uncomfortable experience, but what is cool is that those of us who were involved have been seeking each other out to talk about it ever since. Talking about what would have made it better and how we could avoid those sorts of problems in the future. People weren't really playing to their strengths- there were two instruments out of cases for 20 people...and the musicians kept talking which meant it felt like an amateur, poorly done theatrical show with no plot.

The thing that I think is so amazing about musicians and actors getting together is how much can be communicated non-verbally. If you think about it words and speech are just this top layer of information that humans are passing around all the time. When I met Latana's mother she wouldn't let me speak English to her. Now, keeping in mind that I do not speak French it is either extraordinary how easily we understood one another or else it is totally to be expected. (Or a bit of both, we can go with a bit of both)

There is a core of us, I think about 10 people who are very eager to keep Open Call going next term. And now we know how NOT to run things, which is an invaluable lesson. On Thursday evening in the basement I was sitting with Latana catching up on emails when Matt, a flautist who had to leave early from Open Call, came and sat down- we talked for over an hour about how/why the free improv didn't work, what kinds of ground rules you need for that sort of thing (not much: just listen), how much of an impact a tiny bit of structure can have, how you can choose to go with the group or go against it but that in order to go against it there has to be something cohesive to cut through: if everyone is just going wildly nuts in the center of the room you can't cut that- you can only add to the cacophony.

I might be able to take a drama/improv class next term about storytelling. (The one this term was a circus, I'm sorry I missed being in a circus- next year?) Cross your fingers for me that scheduling works out- I'm really hoping it will.

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