Full Monty Harold

Sticks Author: Steve

After a mildly sporadic November, The Sticks were back at it last night.

Since the fun began, most of our time has been spent hitting the first two beats over and over.  We’ve done our best to adhere to some simple rules:

  1. Listen to the monologist.  We choose to begin our Harolds with a standard suggestion that one of us then monologizes for about 5 minutes.  We believe in being truthful in our monologues and that by being personal, we will create outrageous specificity and a diverse playground from which to draw inspiration for our characters and scenes.  Early on, we all were realizing that it was hard to truly listen to the monologue – it was hard to keep pieces of it in our minds to draw on for later scenes.
  2. Initiate clearly.  Shrouding the idea of your scene in mystery only creates an uncomfortable audience.  Set the scenes and characters quickly and without ambiguity.  And… do this without wholly dictating where we are and what we are doing.
  3. Move the scenes forward and back in time within the boundaries of each section.  Characters from 1A should not bleed into 1B.  Nor should 1A and 1B creep into 1C.  However, within 1A we are enjoying time dashing each construct.
  4. Group games are harder than they should be.  We are getting better and bolder!  One rule that we are adhering to for now (and for the most part) is that characters from 1A, B, C etc. should not appear together in the group game.  We believe it will confuse the audience if we have set boundaries up between a,b, and c only to have characters appear willy nilly together in some group explosion.  Character crossover and intersection is for the third beat in our set of rules.

We’ve done endless first and second beats.  Our scene work is getting better.  Sticks member Jen made a nice discovery last night – initiate with a character and relationships rather than just a situation.  It freed her up nicely and was a great lesson for the rest of us.

So, endless first and second beats.  Time dashers, time prancers, time vixens aplently… all the way up to the precipice of the third beat… the teasing, quivering third beat!  Grab it!  Go! Go!

And grab it we did last night.  The first complete Harold for The Sticks.  And you know what?

We kicked ass!

Steve was the monologist and the suggestion was summer camp.  His tale took us to drama camp (nerd!), ghost stories about a camp outcast named “queerbait” who became a killer, recollections of trying to outprank a camp counselor who was a magician and escape artist that ended with the counselor climbing to naked freedom.

1A brought the tale of the man hiring a food-obsessed hit man to kill his wife.  1B brought the tale of an old woman being sent to summer camps instead of nursing homes.  1C, the story of queerbait and those who loved him, shunned him, died from him.

Rich territory in all of them and some of the best scene and character work we’ve yet done.  Heightening in the second beat was easy and the groups came crashing together in a satisfying third beat that saw marriages, murders, and mayhem.

After finishing our first Harold – just about 45 minutes long – we toasted, critiqued a bit and went on to do another first beat.

In this other first beat, Allison was the monologist and it was her first time.  The suggestion was Christmas and she took us on a very personal journey into her world of Christmas.  A divorced household.  An incredible strip mall Santa that turned out to actually be a woman.  Gifts, stashed in prescription bottles, from a father who may be lost in despair.  A girl, growing up, wistful on Christmas morning, wistful then on New Years, crying over the year that has passed, feeling the pressure of the year ahead.

But seriously, it was funny too.

So!  An important night for The Sticks.  What’s next?

Leave a comment


  1. Meghan

     /  December 3, 2010

    I am wistful reading about your progress and can’t wait to see the fruits of your labors.

  2. jen

     /  December 3, 2010

    hilarious (and thorough) write up! getting through that elusive 3rd beat has had me grinning like a fool all day!!


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