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Old 11-26-02, 11:14 PM   #1
Mikaelus
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Post Wordless Comedy

Hi, I'm a young actor and I need to put together a solo comedy routine that doesn't use any words. Something like what Mr Bean does. I was wondering if anyone could recomend any good books/videos/instructional websites/workshops/etc. that might help me.

(I live in Australia by the way so a workshop in New York won't be of much help).
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Old 11-27-02, 01:18 AM   #2
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You need to? What for? Do you have a theme in mind? Are you trying to do street, stage, or other? Do you have any skills?

To begin with, watch Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, or even Mr. Bean or Benny Hill (who ripped off all of the above liberally). The shorts have more gags than the feature length ones. Study their timing, movement, and gags. Mimic them as much as you can. Get it down pat. Then forget it all and do your own thing.

Check out www.kino.com for a U.S. distributor of hard-to-find silent flicks.

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Old 11-27-02, 10:56 PM   #3
Mikaelus
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Thanks...

I need to do this piece for a drama class project at school. The theme would be "Stage fright" i.e. a guy gets shoved on stage without any preparation, he's very nervous and makes lots of funny mistakes. It would be performed onstage. As for skills I can do a bit of juggling...

Any other ideas?
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Old 11-28-02, 12:21 AM   #4
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Explore your vounerabilities, and what discoverys are possible. it's a clown thing. Good luck.
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Old 11-28-02, 09:45 AM   #5
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In my opinion ( after 20 years of silent comedy)
You would be best served by relating to objects.
Mr bean does it, Chaplin etc etc.
Mr bean (although he was dumbed down for the american market sadly) has been the only mainstram panto in recent memory. (you have to realise that recent memory for me is any last three numbers of a recited Ph number)
Back to topic, have stuff scattered on the stage, discover the stuff and use it in an original way, tie the whole lot together and invent some game with it.

You have to start by workshopping objects. One object at a time, you and the object, look at it and forget its original function and work on what else you can possibly do with it or use it for or have it represent.
Its not that difficult and an audience always enjoy what they see as a process of discovery.

As to the stagefright theme, you get pushed onstage, you freak, run off, you get pushed onstage again, freeze, then move with tiny steps (pretenting this time not to be moving at all ) off stage. [get hold of a mini-trampoline]
The third time you use the mini-tramp off stage to launch yourself as far onstage as is possible.

You recover and accept your stuck out there. Look around and discover whatever object/objects and lose yourself in the investigation of them until you have found what to you is some sort of delightful/playful use for it/them.
Then widen your focus, recognise the audience, demonstrate your discovery.
bow and leave.
(remember its just an exercise- keep it simple- demonstrate you understand what structure is)

If you juggle they'll only clap because they pity you.

[ 11-28-2002: Message edited by: martin ewen ]</p>
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Old 11-28-02, 10:22 AM   #6
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Take a look at "The Actor's Nightmare" by Christopher Durang.

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Old 11-29-02, 06:29 AM   #7
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There's always MotionFest West, coming to Reno in February: www.MotionFest.com

Good luck!
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Old 11-29-02, 11:10 AM   #8
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Reno is a long way from Australia
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Old 12-02-02, 06:21 AM   #9
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Martins start is very nice indeed . What I usually do get people to like me is to make a bubble , a largish one , making the people understand how hard it is to make .
The mix for big bubbles is as follows
1 part glicerine (easilly buyable from chemists )
3 parts fairy washing up liquid
mix these well with about5 parts of distilled water (hot)
Leave for 24 hours and you have your base mix .
Arter this you need to play with the amount of extra water and this depends on other factors .
Humidity is a big factor . You may have to use a spray gun to increase humidity .
There are good web pages under the title bubblesphere .
Have fun.
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Old 12-03-02, 01:52 AM   #10
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Hey Mikaelus,

A couple other options on the Martin Ewen theme could look into what stage you have been pushed onto - i.e. maybe you have been pushed, through mistaken identity, onto stage during The Nutcracker. Stagefright - after discovering that you couldn't leave - might lead you to try to blend into the background (hide by being a background dancer - though you can't dance). Maybe you are intercepted by the Prima Ballerina who uses you as her partner. (lifts carries etc).
On one level stage fright is all about dignity and acceptance. In this little play the actor/victim is crossfired between the expectations of the audience (and wanting to hide from them), the very different expectations of his "fellow performers", and perhaps his own emotions and homophobic taboos about dance/ archetypes of masculinity.

That might be a little complex but there are some ideas in there. It is late and I am rambling.

Here are a few questions/considerations:

Were you meant to be onstage doing something and became frightened?

Are you launched on stage by mistake and, with no escape, try to make the best out of a bad situation?

Is your prof wanting to see the effects of stagefright while you are doing something else or can the whole play be about simple hiding, blending, and persistant attempts at avoidance? I.e when all attempts at escape have failed, when all objects that you might hide or disguse yourself with have been exhausted; maybe you simply pretend to be a janitor sweeping (who else holds the least audience expectation and so - no pressure).

Remember that someone who is frightened is not trying to be. Do not act frightened to mimic stagefright. It is like the old lesson of playing drunk - you have to realize that a drunk is trying very hard to act sober but is handicaped.

I am babbling. It is 3 am. I am going to bed.

Break a stage
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Old 12-09-02, 06:45 AM   #11
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The lazza of The "Comedia del Artie" , small book with lots ideas & stock characters e.g perriot, harlquin et all or any other comedik books, as the comedia is where Chaplin , Keaton & lots of silent stars of the twenties got there ideas . Happy research

[ 12-09-2002: Message edited by: Gman ]

[ 12-09-2002: Message edited by: Gman ]

[ 12-09-2002: Message edited by: Gman ]</p>
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