This week, Monday 4th November 2013

Autumn’s Fallen

Early to bed...
Early to bed…

It’s been a nice quiet week, followed by a nice quiet weekend of getting some sleep and not doing very much. I have enjoyed it! Mainly I’ve been noticing the wind howling down our road the last couple of nights. We didn’t get anything from the much rumoured storm of the century earlier in the week though, which is sort of disappointing. We don’t get a lot of interesting weather in Nottingham – shielded as we are from the best and worst of it all. It was windy enough to be irritating when cycling to the chip shop – forcing me to actually pedal in one direction was tiresome. I much prefer to be pushed.

With the prospect of radical change in the near future at work we’ve been given access to ‘enhanced’ career/finding a job guidance. The first day of that was primarily looking at CVs and how they can be written as well as information about how best to seek future employment. It was interesting and the gentleman running the session was knowledgeable and funny, plus we got chatting about favourite sci-fi novels, so I felt very comfortable.

Many things became clear during the day for me. The first was that I don’t want to seek work doing the kind of performance management, spreadsheet and query writing activity that I spend much of my time doing. I like training people, that’s dynamic and fun and has high potential for spontaneity and improvisation. It’s also the arena in which I can make best use of my communication skills and can synthesise information from the specialist and generalised information I’m good at holding in my head, and then direct that straight to those who need it, in what feels like the best way at the time. Spontaneity and communication seem to be the aspects of my work, and of improv that I most enjoy.

While looking at CVs I realised that the key achievements and experience I would wish to talk about are mostly related to MissImp, not the work that occupies my daytime. The experiences that have had the strongest effect on me are those of performing and organising improv comedy, as well as going through counselling and writing about my various journeys. I’m quite comfortable speaking about mental health and myself and I wonder if there is a genuine role out there where I can use these skills and experiences to be of benefit to others and accomplish something that I feel is worthwhile. Mental health outreach in schools? I’m unsure, but I’m strongly interested. If you have any ideas I’d love to hear them!

Writing

I didn’t get as much done last week as I’d hoped, I suspect applying pressure to get more writing done is likely proving counter-productive. It’s going to be a useful measure of returning to reality. I’m quite pleased with last week’s Desert Crystals, I’ve wanted to do a follow up chapter to the first person account of Mehlion, who (unnamed at the time) falls from the airship to his death (presumably – he’s a long way up!) but struggled to find an angle that felt right, since his family can’t possibly know that he’s missing or dead.
Re-reading Part 14: A Timely Intervention felt personally quite poignant; I’d forgotten the feelings I ascribed to a man falling to his death. It’s strange what we find ourselves writing about. I do want to follow his family alongside the rest of the story. I always struggle a bit with red shirts in fiction – that they die serves no purpose and they don’t get to be treated as people. I’m going to try not to do that in my writing (unless I want to!)

♥ Scribbles of time and space

Lego Blog: Sticking Bricks Together – it’s easier to make odd things than good things.

The Desert Crystals – Part 25 “Ghosts of Dawn” – morning comes at last for the crew of The Dove’s Eye.

Last Week:

In Memory: Sadness and Laughter – thoughts on the funeral of my uncle, Colin Barnfather.

Slightly Broken: Getting A Good Bad Night’s Sleep – horrible dreams and failing to sleep properly.

The Desert Crystals – Part 24 “The Taste of Light” – freshly escaped from the monsters in the sky, a moment of peace can be hoped for.

Updates on my thrilling life

Improv Comedy

I’m a big fan of Improv4Humans, a podcast by UCB founder Matt Besser. It’s a consistently funny podcast with some delightful improv and often entertaining, interesting discussions about improv and the people who do improv. I was disappointed and a little surprised (I suppose I shouldn’t have been) when had a bit of a rant about hating shortform. Shortform’s the stuff we grew up watching on Whose Line Is It Anyway? and for lots of people who do improv it’s either the first thing they do or what they cut their improv teeth on or what they find themselves doing on stage. But there’s an especially noxious snobbery about shortform vs longform. Like most snobbery it’s unjustified and exists to boost one’s self perception as being better than someone else.

The skills required and used in shortform and longform are the same, particularly when you acknowledge that “longform” is a rubbish term since it includes very short scenes as well as hour long pieces off a single suggestion. I don’t find the terms helpful; games and scenes may be a better description than shortform and longform. The only difference, as far as I can tell, having done both for a while is that shortform games provide and require an additional constraint or element that is not organically generated by the performers. People sometimes talk about there being a different mentality involved, that longform requires greater attention and skills. Sorry, but that’s just snobbery again. Those same abilities to listen, to adapt, to recognise and build on opportunities in a scene are all still there in shortform, you’ve just got to do something else as well. External intervention exists in most longform too – editing of scenes, tagging in and out, jumping the timeframes. These can all be someone who is not (right now) in your scene forcing a change on it. You can perhaps make a case for greater concentration needed in a longform set, but I think that’s pretty weak as well. If you can’t concentrate on what’s going on you’re not going to successfully play an Alphabet Game or an Armando.

The differences exist as attitudes in the minds of those who regard shortform and longform as different things. If you approach shortform as you would do longform, with an intent to create a scene with characters and relationships then your shortform will be amazing. It’s a false dichotomy, and that becomes apparent whenever you get deeply into defining the differences between them. Just embrace it, enjoy it all and remember that the audiences just want to be entertained.

Events and Excitement

Tuesday 5th November 2013

Happy Mondays (on a Tuesday) – Open Mic for Open MIND

Jam show – a chance for anyone to get on stage, plus special show slots!

The Canalhouse
Canal Street
(off Broad Street)
Nottingham
7.30pm – £3

Thursday 14th November 2013

Gorilla Burger: improv comedy carnage

Gorilla Burger2_SQ_SM

Jam show – a chance for anyone to get on stage, plus special show slots!

The Corner
8 Stoney Street
(off Broad Street)
Nottingham
7.30pm – £4

https://www.facebook.com/events/174297189420385/

Tuesday 19th November 2013

Unspeakable Acts

Unspeakable Acts_SQ

Nottingham’s longform improv troupe, will create a mutant hybrid of scripted drama and improvised comedy.

The players will begin performing a scripted play chosen by the audience; as the show progresses, the script is distorted, violated and abandoned. In its place we will create a new narrative, a squalid perversion of the playwright’s intentions or a beautiful butterfly made of broken dreams.

The Corner
8 Stoney Street
(off Broad Street)
Nottingham
7.30pm – £4

https://www.facebook.com/events/711364735543846/

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