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Harold night

July 12th, 2008 · 4 Comments

I was really excited by the Harolds at iO when I came here. Until wednesday, I had seen two Harold shows at iO. Basically, two student teams and one “veteran” team each present a Harold, and can gather for games between the Harolds.

Here’s a video of iO :

The teams I had seen so far were Virgin Daiquiri, an all-woman team, The Associates, The Reckoning, Johnny Roast Beef, and Carl & the passions.

I was a little disappointed. I knew the Reckoning was a great team, but I didn’t connect with what was presented on stage. I loved the different “voice” of the all-woman team. I had a hard time appreciating the show as a whole, because of patterns that I don’t appreciate seeing on stage. I saw a lot of pimping, bitchy remarks between improvisers, sometimes weak character commitment and generally a preference for jokes and “sharp dialogue”. I was looking forward to the “organic”, but when it happened, it seemed so random!

Here are some of my colleagues’ remarks on the shows, who seemed to have appreciated them more than me:

I tried to think about why the shows weren’t meeting my expectations. We’ve been working with my team Eux for a year now on the Harold, basically “out of the book”. Guest teachers intoduced us to the “organic” aspect of the Harold, the necessity to be truthful, supportive and daring on stage. I came to the conclusion that my disappointment was explained by the fact that iO produces a lot of students on stage, thus presenting work that is still “in progress”. I viewed this as a bad thing.

Two things made me change my mind.

Number one, the Harolds that I saw thursday night, especially by the “student” teams Whiskey Rebellion and Revolver had truthful character work, a hugely supportive approach on stage, just the right amount of connections, and organic “games” and “feel” that added to the stage picture. There were fewer jokes, and when they happened, they happened in the obvious “wacky” moments so it didn’t feel that this was detrimental to the work. The Reckoning has one of the most powerful character work I’ve seen so far, but I still have trouble with the “sharp dialogue” (which is an expression I heard from Bill Arnett) approach. In the end, I feel finally satisfied because I have seen some VERY good Harolds.

The second reason is that I had a talk with Bill Arnett, who explained that iO does put students on stage, but that this also contributes to their bettering by offering opportunities to play to the non-top players. Which in a sense, is also a gift. As I’ve heard, few teams, even among the veterans, are paid to play and most do it for the pleasure of it.

In the end, I saw an awesome show this thursday. And I got a personal bonus as all the teams gathered to enact one of the audience member’s dream, and I got to have mine played out!

Tags: Voyages · English

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kristen Schier // Jul 25, 2008 at 6:26 am

    Ian I fell real cool being on your blog. I feel like through you I am connected in some way to all the awesome improvisers you have interviewed on this blog. It is a great resource. Thanks for making me feel a little famous.

    Improv Forever!

  • 2 Ian // Jul 25, 2008 at 7:33 am

    You ARE famous, Kristen.

  • 3 Joshua // Aug 22, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Hey mate! Glad u changed your mind!! :-) Beginners are the future!

    Couple questions..
    What was the dream you had enacted for you by the WHOLE team?

  • 4 Ian // Aug 22, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    Hi Kosh, thanks for the comments!

    Sharp dialogue is in my book the act of keeping the audience interested in your scene by using witty remarks, jokes, pimping, etc…

    And yes, my dream was enacted by the WHOLE team, actually the whole three teams present that night!

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