Last Week – Peace and Princes
Just a few weeks after Christmas I’m already craving peace and quiet again. That’s probably the fault of the week before last which really was a rude re-emergence into the realm of humanity. Last week was a lot quieter, with just two slots of improv in the evenings and an almost empty workplace during the day. Bliss!
It meant I could actually get some writing done, which felt amazing. It’s possible I’ll even be returning to a decent and reliable writing schedule, and that would make me happy. I’ve still got plenty of Lego stuff to write about and the Desert Crystals is bubbling away in my head quite nicely.
♥ Last Week’s Scribbles
Awesome Things: 2 Films – Fist of Jesus and Two Fingers: Vengeance Rhythm – two great short films.
Lego Blog: The Collectionary – some nice folks who showed an interest.
Fairly quiet as I said. We had a small Fisticuffs session on Tuesday with just four of us. We messed around, laughed and did three longform pieces. It was the first improv I’d done since before Christmas (I was compering the Gorilla Burger and didn’t play much). There was something deeply reassuring about sinking back into the ritualised warm up and getting really well synchronised again.
First a Henrietta, which is a slight extension of The Henry (which I think Geoff brought back from Birmingham for us) or La Ronde in which a string of players are given locations from a fictional village (in this case ‘Little Shankling’ and a population – 492) aand they play out scenes in order. Martin and I began at the railway station, then me and Lloydie were on a street corner, he and Ben were at the duck pond then Ben and Martin were at the retirement home and then back to me and Martin at the railway station. We do two full loops of that strict structure before allowing characters from all four locations to interact. That extra freedom and self-editing the scenes seems to give it the opportunity to leap forwards and find a satisfying conclusion. They also feel like they’re more naturally attuned to narrative. I like that. This one concluded with ducks consuming a body.
After that we enjoyed a pair of montages, the first inspired by a round of improvised beat poetry. I can’t for the life of me now recall what the suggestions we used were, but they tookk us into some really weird and lovely scenes. Two in particular stood out – the burglar breaking into a flat but is interfered with by all the neighbours, and the deep friendship between the accused and the judge, and then everybody he meets on Death Row. Sweet.
James took the jam this week, bringing in sound effects, vocal foley and music to inspire and add to the scenes. It’s great fun, and potentially enormously disruptive. James kept reminding us (rightly) that it’s exactly the same as having another person in the scene – you have to accept their offers (which should also be receiving offers) and incorporate them into the ongoing scene. Ignoring them feels profoundly wrong.
I’ve been invited to perform with The Same Faces in Leicester on the first of February, so I’m looking forwards to that, although I haven’t met or seen any of them play before!
Faking and Credulity
It wasn’t always going to be such a peaceful week. I was booked in to complete a week of PRINCE2 training with several hours of reading and practice papers each night. In every respect I’m glad that I withdrew; there are numerous demanding tasks to complete at work, plus the wider overview of the havoc being wrought on our organisation over the next year (although, inevitably and pathetically the time scales for that have started to slip and slide already).
Additionally I’d made the mistake of getting into the course pre-reading which was making me angry. If you don’t know, PRINCE2 is the Cabinet Office branded project management method. Like all project management techniques it involves a combination of the blindingly obvious wrapped up in a dozen layers of reporting and bureaucracy. I imagine it’s generally no better or worse than the dozens of competitors. The pre-reading though , is mind-numbing and filled with circular reasoning (it’s good because it’s self-proven) and tonnes of classic logical ‘no true Scotsman’ fallacies (essentially, if a PRINCE2 project ever fails it’s because it wasn’t PRINCE2 enough).
It also quickly became clear how it is that public protests are simply ignored in government planning – the ‘dis-benefits’ of public whining is easily balanced by stating the (limited, government-oriented) benefits. Terrifying. Finding out that the course is also that classic example of Gove education – being talked at for a week and being instructed solely in how to pass a multiple-answer exam – was the nail in its own coffin for me.
I know I don’t learn well like that; my favoured learning experiences are those of learning by doing, experimentation and discussion. Learning and teaching improv has lead me to the conclusion (for now) that the only way to assess learning is by getting the student to teach someone else. It also didn’t help to realise that the massive projects we’ve been trying to implement, or been involved in implementing must also have been PRINCE2 projects – and they have been fucking terribly thought out and implemented. As ever the success of a project depends on the people involved, not just the application of a structure.
Events and Excitement
Friday 31st January
MissImp in Action – live improv comedy show
Thrilling all-action end of the month show sporting the best of MissImp inventing scenes and playing games.
The Glee Club
8.30pm (doors open at 8pm) – £4.50 in advance/£6 on the door (£3 students/MissImp)
Saturday 1st February
The Same Faces – Improvised Comedy
44 Millstone Lane
8.30pm (doors open at 8pm) – £4 on the door