• Wednesday Mike Brown arriving -3/26

It is always a pleasure to have Mike Brown, solo improviser extraordinaire, return to Hawaii!  We cleaned (most of) the heck out of our apartment for his stay.  We all are so lucky to have him not only sharing his knowledge with us, but also performing his solo improvisation form with the community.

And Mike is such an awesome house guest.  One time he brought us cupcakes from a famous cupcake bakery in New York and they were amaaaaazing!

  • Monday – Creating website – 3/23

The founders of Think Fast! having been getting together and working hard to create a fun little internet home for all our improv news and shows.  And you’re here!  Yay!  What would you like to see here?  What should we blog about?  Wanna find out more about our brain farts?  Let us know!  We’re keen on the idea of hearing from you!

  • Thursday Class – 3/27

This last Thursday drop in class of our Adult Improv Program, our students got to work on some exercises that helped not only with their scene work, but also their volume and presentation.

While the theme was volume and presentation, our warmups were focus based to help students hone in on their partners and their environment.  We did exercises like Pillars of Light, Points of Connection, and the short form game Trading Places.

Admittedly, I was a little worried about our new students.  All of the new students had never done improv before, and I feared I might be throwing them into the fire a little too soon.  However, they proved me wrong.  Their openness to asking questions was refreshing and not once did they not try their best.  My goodness our new students are always a delight.  Yes, they were prone to asking questions and breaking character in a scene, but their bravery to try something completely out of their comfort level and the fun they found in it?  Always admirable.  As an instructor, it is was good reminder that I shouldn’t feel like I need to hand hold students through entire scenes.

I noticed that one note I found myself giving several times was the “Give and Take” / “Share Focus” guideline.  They would be so excited on stage with their ideas or have such loud characters that they would over talk each other.  I celebrated their enthusiasm, but reminded them that they need to share the stage, share the story and share the focus.  Much like our warmup earlier of Boink, they needed to focus on each other and especially where the ball/story/scene was going.

I know I did my job sharing my love of improv when I talk to them after class and hear that they will definitely come back.

  • Friday show: Think Fast! with Mike Brown – 3/28

Think Fast! with Mike Brown

Think Fast! with Mike Brown at Ong King. Photo by: Kevin Nesnow

Think Fast! recently had a show at the Ong King Artastic, featuring Mike Brown and his Solo Improvisation Extravaganza! form.

We played some short form games before opening with the long form, The Library.  It’s a fun form I created some years ago that involves books as our idea generator.  It came to me while at a library one day, and I was looking at the book sale rack.  I flipped through several books and thought back to when I was read to.  How it sparked my imagination and how it was a treat to be read to.  So, I thought why not read from the books as though they were a monologist.  Since then, it’s been a fun format.  Mike was awesome enough to jump in and play with us, too, before he got to rock out his solo improv form.

I had seen his solo form before, the last time he came in through Hawaii.  He interviews an audience member – preferably one who is new to improv – and talks to them about their life.  Asking about family and friends.  I admire his bravery for asking them questions that would normally be socially avoided – like asking about parents of the interviewee that have passed away.  Also, his charisma while interviewing someone makes it easy for people to just open up with him.  After the interview, he uses the information he gathered to be inspired for the next 20-30mins while he improvises the life of the audience member.  His ability to call back to the interview and create a story out of the pieces of information is quite a journey.  There’s a sense I feel as I watch it hoping that the interviewee is okay with all this.  And then I look over and see the biggest grin on her face, laughing along as her life gets played out on stage by a complete stranger.  I no longer care about what she thinks and turn back to Mike to learn more about her, because even though we listened to the same interview, he somehow knows her better than I do.

And from there, I can only continue to admire him as a professional, artistic storyteller.

  • Workshop with Mike Brown – 3/29

Mike Brown's Solo Improv Workshop: Playing with Yourself!

Mike Brown with his students of the Solo Improvisation Workshop: Playing with Yourself. Photo by Larissa DLG. Nielsen

On Saturday March 29th, Mike Brown taught his second Solo Improvisation: Playing with Yourself Workshop for the Oahu improv community.  It was a 6 hour workshop – with two breaks- held at the Loading Zone.  We had four established improvisers and four completely new-to-the-scene students.  I sat out on the side to learn from an instructor’s perspective, and Mike was an excellent instructor all around.

We spent a good amount of time on individual warm-ups, starting off with a solo dance off.  He invited the students to one at a time dance to his music in front of everyone.  While it helped everyone get silly and let loose, his overall lesson in this warm up was genius:  He let students dance for a certain period of time when he saw that the player reached that point of not knowing what else to do.  It happened and we all saw it: looking to Mike for instruction or dismissal, pausing slightly while dancing, looking around the room.  Just then, the player would create a new dance move and try something else.  It was at this experience while dancing on stage did he share that as improvisers, when we have exhausted all ideas, we need to create even more in the moment.  I just love that lesson!

The rest of the workshop continued with students carrying out exercises of solo work and trying their hand at some different idea generators for solo forms.  It was great to see the work that Mike inspired into the students, and the amazing work they all did.

  • IYFI 6th Anniversary After Party Show! – 3/29

IYFI 6th Birthday Show

Happy Birthday IYFI! Photo by: Eleanor Svaton

Happy Birthday IYFI!  One of my favorite improv groups celebrated 6 years of improv good times!  IYFI, or In Yo Face Improv, celebrated their birthday at Leeward Community College’s Lab Theater the week before and decided to continue the party Ong King in Chinatown!  IYFI members and alumni – including this gal! – played short form games with fun twists (like ABCs but backwards)!  Improvisers were also invited on stage, placed into teams according to applause and create new improv formats right on stage!  All teams were completely different, some game heavy and some story based.  It was exciting to see improvisers race into scenes creating a form with no preconceived notions.   The third act of the night welcomed audience members to choose an improviser to play a scene with on stage!  What a great way to have new people dip their toes in the waters of improv!

Thanks for reading!

Larissa