There Was An Audience And Everything!

Sticks Author: Steve

I really recommend that when you are 12 or so you start hanging around with smart, funny, talented stagey types.  It’s about the best thing you can do if in the future you want to try and learn the Harold.  It’s what I did.

We did our first public Harolds last Friday in front of a warm, engaging and appreciative audience.  The Sticks, my closest and most important friends for 30 years, were truly amazing.  We’ve been rehearsing since September 8, 2010 and I suppose that’s a long time .  But consider that up until about August 2010 only one of us (Chris M) even knew what the hell a Harold was.  Personally, I never even knew a person named Harold because I wasn’t alive in 1910.  My only exposure to things heraldric came via dungeons and dragons (heraldry) and Hark The Herald Angels Sing.

So.  A rewarding trip with these Sticks that began as a discussion with Chris M and I on the rooftop bar of The Elbow Room in West Hartford and continued with frantic research, book reading, video watching (while on vacation with many of the soon-to-be Sticks in Cape Cod) and finally, outrageously, audaciously with the first Sticks rehearsal at Chris M and Jen’s house.

We barely understood what beats were, but we knew how to improv.  We studied and worked and disagreed and then, then!  Then the bastard Sticks staged an intervention against me.  Me!  An intervention to wrestle me into submission about performing publicly.  An intervention against my pickiness.  Assholes.  Lovely, lovely, correct assholes.

Up until now we’ve performed in various Sticks living rooms across the great town of East Hampton.  And all of these Sticks long, long ago surpassed my improv abilities.  With the structure of the Harold down, and with our decision to include mini monologues instead of group games between beats, we’ve been flying.  The best part is – I get to watch them.

Last night, other people got to watch them and it wasn’t in a living room. It was in the upstairs of our little town museum.  That’s practically Radio City Music Hall or The Apollo or some other famous theater like the main stage of the Gold Club.

Since most in the audience were unfamiliar with improv (let alone the Harold), we spent a minute explaining the form.  We then warmed up with a bit of shortform.  After that, we got the first audience suggestion.  Horse.

Chris B. performed a nuanced monologue dealing with his first experiences with horses and we had plenty to work with.  From there, things went really, honestly, perfectly.  Bad driving, horse chicanery, QVC horse-themed restraint devices – all tied neatly together in the third beat thanks to great listening and trust in one another.  The tie ins were especially helped by Chris B, Jen and Jim.  The three of them thinking together is what made it happen.

The audience seemed to like it, but I was tempted at that point to end.  We had planned on doing two, but I was afraid that the audience wouldn’t be interested in watching a second one.  I was wrong.

After a quick break for BYOB imbibing, we settled in again.  The suggestion was “love” and I did the monologue touching on what love means to me and how it can compel even the youngest of us to break down barriers to be together.  Again, everything went extremely well from there.

We’ve all performed in various things for most of our lives and we are very familiar with the feeling you get, how you draw on the audience and how you feel grateful for them.  It was different this time because we were unsure if the form would resonate or if we would pull it off.  Would they know what was happening?  Would they get edits, dashes, beats?  Could they follow people as characters, multiple characters across different scenes?

Would we be funny?

This was a special audience and they seemed to love it.

There are a few things that I’ll take away from the night.  First, we’ll be doing it again and more regularly.  We are beyond ready.  Second, my friends The Sticks are the best bunch of people you could know.  Third, the funny stuff happens when we connect details from the monologue, our relationships, and through listening.  Fourth, quick edits, time dashes etc. are funny.

Most importanly, I will take away that this is freaking fun as hell.

I am grateful to all of The Sticks for doing this and I am very appreciative of the audience who came to see us.

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1 Comment

  1. Chriis

     /  October 23, 2011

    My Favorite Blog entry to date. Captured the night perfectly. Although I must correct the record on the “intervention”. I have the actual transcript and will post it here:

    Allison, ” Steve, lighten up”
    Steve, “Oh, OK”

    Great post and great pixs (thanks Jules)

    Reply

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