During my years of working in the improv worlds I was keenly aware of the audience. I loved to watch or observe how the audience was taking in our form of entertainment. It was electric. We use to preform “The Harold” a beautiful, poetic version of long form improv acting. The actors would begin at random then slowly yet quickly weave together a tapestry of art. The threads would start to weave together. The way the connections would come together was so random and would make this constructs in the mind of the audience. It was pure joy. The fact we were even in a place to make a connection with the audience was such a privilege to me.
The Harold with its majestic creative beauty was brought to us from Chicago and through the brilliant mind of improviser Dan Berman. Dan taught us over at Ga. State University back in circa 1999 back when we called our troupe “The Slightly Mad Players”. Dan had such a passion of the “game withing the game”. This means within the work actors can find a connection, within the connection rules magically develop. When one actors says this, the other actor is triggered to say that and if both actors are aware of the discovery of rules then the magic happens. This discipline trained us to to really be in the moment, to be on the ready to find the game within the game, to find the layers of serious gameplay. It was quite advanced work.
During this time I noticed the power of story. I had to work very hard to find connections during these kinds of experiences. The stress, srota speak. to race the mind towards a roldaex of connections in order to further the story ir part of the challenge within. I knew my scene was coming and my mind would flip through so many choices and I had to then identify what choice I felt would be the strongest. I learned how to trust the impulses I was getting from my body. I noticed that if I got a huge adremenlein rush it was a good idea to pursue it. I wanted to feel alive the idea of making a story connection that the audience would appreciate was my motivation. This kind of traning lead me to want to learn more about story. I knew there was the villain and the hero. In my theater studios I understood the idea of the antagnist and the protagnist. In my own personal like I noticed positive experiences and neagative ones. There was a yin-yang. I wanted to master this energy. It would become a life long study. The power of the monomyth.
My father passed away in 2004. He was the one who bought me my first video camera in 8th grade while at Trickum Middle School in Liliburn Ga. It was this Haticachi camera that I used like a workhorse. I just fell in love with the creative process. I loved to write scripts with my cohorts because I loved how my words would shape a scene I could go back and review. I longed to edit video. I remember calling “Compaq Computers” and screaming at the rop of lungs when I bought this computer to edit video as it promised but alas I would have to wait until I bought my first Apple computer. This passion for creative process and then my experiences with improv combined itself. When my father passed I also was going through the suicide of dear friend. It was a dark time. As a way to express this all I decided to used some of inheritance of my father’s estate to produce and direct a film, “Art of Suicide”. It was during this incredible process I came across the book, “The Writer’s Journey” by Christoper Vogler.
I could not believe what I was reading. The beauty of story structure was there in one book. All the training I had gone through lead to this moment. I was so excited. After the film was complete I decided to have an audition for a new endeavor. I wanted to explore the process of combining improve tenants with screenwriting structure. I thought I may be crazy. Maybe I am! 15 actors auditioned and I think I cast all of them. There was Carlette Jennings, Dawn Petterson, Joshua Waterstone. Matthew & Jared Young, Vas Sanches, Karli Garrett and many others who came though the very first, “Blank Stage”. These poor actors. The asked for it. I posted a very clear audition notice. I made it clear what I was looking for. I guess I can’t blame myself here. Nonetheless the actors and I worked very very hard on these long form, live improv shows. I created a new kind of format. It was a beautiful weaving of improv and story. Was it improv? In some ways no. I ended up creating strong story benchmarks, guideposts following the guidelines in “The Writer’s Journey” so in essence the actors were well aware of the story blocks that were coming. Was it scripted?No. The actors integrated profiles of audience members as their characters as a means to generate incredible audience ammunition. At one point we hit gold.
In another post I will try and go into detail but our shows took off. We were selling out. We were getting write ups in the papers. The success was awesome! I knew perhaps I had found the creative release. This lead to such a communion of sorts between art and life. The more shows I performed the more I would understand the archtypes. You see the monomyth is a teacher. It shows us through example, through the performing of it the truths about story. The knowledge is astounding. How it reveals the nature of aspects in your own life is like finding the white rabbit. It’s a gradual process.
In essence the Monomyth is an idea there is really only one story. The energy of story itself. We are indeed in this moment within a story. As you read this think about the one person right now that you feel is guiding you, you feel loves you, you feel has your best interest at heart, pulling you up to what they feel is a kind of heaven. That’s your current mentor! Identifying your mentor is crucial. You can now understand and trust their words that much more and it is my belief of that person cannot be around another mentor will take their place. Much like a “theme” to a website the physical form of the archetypes change but yet stay the same. I have discovered, each day, you will be sent loving, warm guidance from people who are getting what feels like divine guidance themselves.
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