David Razowsky: Improvising as an Actor Workshop – Day 2

Long-time Second City cast member, director, and teacher David Razowsky visited Australia in July 2015, and I was lucky enough to be apart of a three day workshop focused on his various techniques and approaches to improvisation. Here are my notes and lessons from that weekend:

  • Stop starting your scene, and start continuing your scene.
  • Bring your awareness then call it out!
  • Hold onto your shit – and connect with that.
  • What’s really missing from a scene – this can be used for second beats.
  • “Take everything for its face value – take it literally.” Listen to what the words mean. It’s where the humour appears from. You can’t scoff it off. Play it.
  • “What are you missing because it’s a figure of speech.”
  • Repetition adds emphasis – gives your stuff energy.
  • “We don’t have to do that – we get to do that!”
  • “I wish to free you on the improv you do on stage and the life you live off-stage.”
  • You can listen to tones, weight, shape. You can give words as much weight as the way they are expressed in.
  • We know the scene isn’t over because the breath changes.”
  • “When you are honest you don’t have to remember anything.” – Mark Twain
  • “Once you start thinking, you start weighing shit out.”
  • “I don’t invent, I discover.” – Pablo Picasso
  • Use everything in your enviroment. Your point-of-view is what you just said and what’s adjacent.
  • Point-of-view’s brew from emotional content.
  • “What did you just feel in that moment?”
  • If you are doing something your scene partner enjoys, why stop doing it? Continue giving those gifts!
  • Once you have the epiphany, your scene partner can have it as well.
  • “I don’t know” is just as valid a point of view as anything else. It’s truthful, it’s the actuality of the scene.
  • All improv is a race between two people where it doesn’t matter who wins. You’re watching the chase.
  • Don’t like the lack – like what’s there. Don’t back away.
  • Respond honestly to the last thing that was said.
  • Hold on to your point-of-view and surrender your point-of-view. Don’t let your ego drive your point-of-view or take you out of it.

Group Scenes

  • If doing a group scene – align with someone, connect with someone. Share an opinion.
  • Alliances and allegiances: How we are connected to other people (not characters!)
  • We have to indicate to each other who we are aligned with.
  • Use pronouns – I/Yours/Mine/Me or Ours/Theirs/We/Us or by using shape.
  • If aligned, use names; especially if their back is to you. Little queues and show it fully and wholly!!

Change and Heightening

  • “You’re looking for the turn, the change, for the bubble to pop.” Once it does, you can drop what you had and it changes and affects you.
  • Just because I notice it, doesn’t mean I have to engage with it.
  • “Go for the thing that stirred my soul.”
  • We can’t stay ‘that’s tiny’ – it’s a change anyway you look at it.
  • Heightening is the actor taking information you have already introduced and adding until you find a breaking point in your scene partner.
  • Don’t get married to ‘the scene is about me.’ Surrender. “It’s very likely that this moment is for somebody else”
  • The onus isn’t on when I stop having fun, it’s when your scene partner stops having fun with your offer.
  • If you feel like leaving a scene, leave the scene.
  • “What’s the emotional temperature of the room?”
  • Use that to generate an opening line of dialogue.
  • You can make a small deal out of something big, or a big deal out of something small.
  • Your feeling doesn’t make something true.
  • Be something, then discover why you are playing the scene.
  • “Being nervous is enough. Being nervous about mailboxes is too much.
  • An exit is a line of dialogue. The scene goes from act one to act two.
  • “Make this as uncomfortable as you can!”
  • “A good scene look written but off-book.”