29 May 2009

Impromptu!: BXL Improv workshop

I'm preparing to deliver another set of delightful improv teachings for beginners in Brussels. Tell your friends. Tell yourself. Come together.

Ryan Millar will be teaching another improv comedy workshop on June 13-14 and 20-21, from 10 am – 4 pm at the Warehouse. There will be a performance in the evening on the last day. It's only 80 euros/50 euros for students. Email impromptu@atc.theatreinbrussels.com to secure a spot.

Course Description:

IMPROMPTU!

Improvisation Fundamentals with Ryan Millar

Impromptu will teach you everything you need to know to create improvisational theatre in the course of two weekends. This workshop is a hands-on, fun, and intensive introduction to, (or refresher course in) improvised performance.

The weekends will include: warm up exercises, scene basics, character building, performance games, and improv tips. By the end of the four days you will be able to perform live improv armed with only your bare wits, your scene partner, and a suggestion- guaranteed!

After the final class there will be a performance of simple, essential, and funny improv games. You’ll have the opportunity to impress your friends and family in a show starring you! Send an email impromptu@atc.theatreinbrussels.com

About the Instructor

Ryan Millar is an improviser with over 10 years experience learning, performing, and teaching improvisational theatre throughout Canada and Europe. He has taught basic, intermediate, and advanced improv skills to high school students through the venerable Canadian Improv Games in which he has been an instructor, referee, adjudicator, and judge. He has also taught beginners and professionals through his work with !nstant Theatre in Vancouver, Boom! Chicago in Amsterdam, and with his own Maxcap Media.

In performing throughout Canada and Europe he has tickled audiences from Groningen to Winnipeg, and Seattle to Rome. He holds a Performance Certificate from Gastown Actors Studio in Vancouver and has studied improvisation with the likes of Keith Johnstone, (the inventor of TheatreSports) Randy Dixon (Unexpected Productions, Seattle), Alistair Cook (!nstant Theatre, Vancouver Theatresports), and Improv Olympic. Ryan’s range runs from short-form explosive comedy to long-form thought provoking improvised theatre and he is eager to share his experience and knowledge with you.

Still want to know more?

Testimonials from Improv Professionals and Past Students

“Ryan Millar is an exciting, smart and infectiously fun improviser. His approach is unintimidating, and cuts to the chase of having a fantastic time doing things you'd never imagine.” -Rachel Miller, Boom! Chicago, Second City

“I was really amazed by how in such a short time you were able to teach us enough to put a show together that not only didn't embarrass us, but was actually a huge, fun success.” Steve, Workshop Participant, Rome

"Ryan having not been on stage for more than 40 years I found the whole experience awesome-you are simply an inspirational teacher." Mike, Workshop Participant, Brussels

“You work well with people of all ages and you adapt to all sorts of personalities. Most importantly I find you quite sensitive and understanding to others' difficulties and are very patient. It was amazing how you handled me, for example, and actually, in your own discreet way, convinced me to appear that special night, almost one year ago. I'll never forget it." Diana, Workshop Participant, Rome

"Ryan is a truly innovative and talented teacher, performer, and skateboarder." -Alistair Cook, !nstant Theatre, Canadian Improv Games

"What a great way to start the year! I'm so glad I signed up for this workshop. I learned a lot from you and really enjoyed it. Thanks for pushing me out of my comfort zone." Frederique, Workshop Participant, Brussels

“His ability to charm people out of their shells astounds not only me but the people who were charmed as well" -Stephen Sim, CRUMBS

"I was initially reluctant to try improv, as I had no experience of acting/performing. Luckily I took the plunge and signed up for the workshop. It was challenging yet always fun, thanks to Ryan's teaching style. Overall, the Improv workshops and shows were one of the best thing I have every done, and I hope I will do more improvising in the future." Andrew, Workshop Participant, Rome

"A great workshop with a great gang of people, a great coach and a show that exceeded our expectations – thanks Ryan!!" Catriona, Workshop Particpant, Brussels

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28 May 2009

Rock Paper Scissors Delivered


My workshop entitled Rock Paper Scissors: Management Tool, Leadership Strategy went down this morning.

PROS: It's an excellent presentation. Thoroughly researched. Meticulously prepared powerpoint visuals. Suitable for large groups.

CONS: Participants were unfamiliar with meetings that require participation. Language/culture difficulties. Powerpoint projector didn't work. Group was small.

ANALYSIS:
Fortunately my enthusiasm, coupled with the handy visual aids of the slides (which I was forced to print out and display like a librarian at storytime) won the day.

However, the real ace in the hole, (or scissors up my sleeve, if you will) was the content itself. World RPS can teach you quite a bit about the game, and about life.

Maybe you should get me into your place of work to deliver a cracking presentation that will ease all of your office tension, make your wife fall back in love with you, and give you the courage you need to actualize your true potential.

This presentation could be about RPS, or it could be about whatever you want. Or alternately, whatever I want.

Do it.

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25 May 2009

Cakefight Amsterdam


There are many awesome things about Amsterdam. And if it's a sunny long weekend, while you're there for your anniversary and you're staying in a funky modern hotel (Lloyd Hotel) a short canalside cycle from downtown, well so much the better.

Plus morning coffee and reading, afternoon bagels, a Late Nite Improv show with the gang at Boom!, and guest appearances from the Shortcut Kid, and Roman Dario, Amsterdam was showing just how awesome she is. I love this city.

But what really gets me about the canaled city on the IJ is the cakefighting.

Every long weekend, at every corner, there's people - brightly coloured, smiling people - smashing cake in each other's faces. Bountiful sweet cakey pastry. And dressed up, dressed down, old, young, wearing a bathing cap or wearing a cape, these people have the genuine joie de vivre that can only come from frequent joyous cakefighting.

Bless this mess.





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20 May 2009

Flower-Gun Stencil

It was Chiara who first noticed this excellent uncommissioned piece of stencil work just around the corner from our house.

Our neighborhood - Chatelain area Ixelles, Bruxelles - is pleasant, leafy and popular. What it lacks in raw beauty it makes up for in fancy restaurants, idle chit-chattery at sidewalk cafes, and blonde children in strollers.

Our particular block is a small exception. While also quite pleasant, it is also actively ugly. It is the home of both a monstrous car dealership/import point, and a hideous concrete tower, both undoubtedly the result of a dirty tryst between some dirty zoning board and an unscrupulous, sex-crazed developer.


But deface one ivy covered wall with a poignant, carefully-crafted stencil, and somehow it all makes sense again.

Sure a flower-gun concept isn't mind-blowingly new, but the multi-coloured stencil is well-executed and thoughtfully placed.

Thanks, anonymous street artist, for adding a little touch of subversive beauty to my ugly corner of my pleasant neighborhood.

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18 May 2009

Name Your Team!

Need some help coming up with a team name for your inter-office whatever tournament?

Yes you do. Because winning is important, but having the coolest name is even more so.

You need to come up with an awe-inspiring, pants-shittingly terrifying moniker for your team, to strike mindfear into the heart of your opponent.

Or utterly confuse them.

Whatever your strategy, I've come up with some excellent formulae to help you get where you need to go this sporting season:

NAME SUGGESTIONS

1. Add an ADJECTIVE such as:
AWESOME, FURIOUS, PRETENTIOUS, MASTERFUL, DELIBERATE, FEROCIOUS, HAPPY

To an ANIMAL NAME, such as:
PANTHERS, TURTLES, ZEBRAS, SALMON, SHARKS, GRIZZLY BEARS

Examples: FURIOUS TURTLES, MAGICAL SHARKS, DEATH-FILLED HAWKS etc.

2. Use a NATURAL PHENOMENON, such as:
LIGHTNING BOLTS, TSUNAMI, CLOUDS, NORTHERN LIGHTS,

And add “of (ATTRIBUTE)” afterwards, where the attribute can be any DEADLY SIN:
LUST, GLUTTONY, GREED, SLOTH, WRATH, ENVY, AND PRIDE

Or, if you prefer THE CATHOLIC VIRTUES:
CHASTITY, TEMPERANCE, CHARITY, DILIGENCE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, HUMILITY

Examples: SNOWSTORMS OF DILIGENCE, CLOUDS OF WRATH, TSUNAMIS OF LUST

3. Any COLOUR that exists:
BRIGHT RED, VERY DARK BLUE, BLACK, MAROON, AQUAMARINE

any TOOL one might use to build a house or assemble a bookshelf:
HAMMER, SCREWDRIVER, LEVEL, POWER DRILL, POWER HAMMER, POWER LEVEL

Examples: BLACK HAMMERS, SHINY BLUE WRENCHES, INVISIBLE POWER DRILLS

There. Choose a combination and make up your team name. It's a snap!

BONUS TIP: ALWAYS TYPE OR WRITE YOUR NEW TEAM NAME IN ALL CAPS TO SHOW YOU'RE NOT FUCKING AROUND.

Best of luck, and you're welcome.

P.S. I bet this also works with Ultimate Frisbee.

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14 May 2009

Raw Deal - a playlet

The following is a 500 word standalone two-hander scene I wrote for my application to The Central school of Speech and Drama's Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media Programme.

For the record I was given an interview, which I couldn't make. I emailed them to ask for an alternative date and they never replied. The end.

Raw Deal

Lights up. Two men at a table.

Gary: Do you have the-

Frank: Of course I've got the stuff! What the fuck, man?

Gary: Good. We just need to be sure.

Frank: Need to be sure? What the-? This is fucking bullshit! I oughta go batshit-crazy up in this motherfucker!

Gary: Hey man, chill out a little bit, this isn't a, uh, Tarantino flick. This is real-life.

Gary:Hey! Fuck you man. You doubting my cred? I will rape your face!

Gary: Frank. Time out. It's me, Gary. Not Jimmy Two-Shirt. We are rehearsing. This is a dry-run.

Frank: Don't fucking pull this shit on me man! You wearing a wire? Huh? This some sorta fucking set-up?

Gary: Sit down. Shut up. Relax. You're not even remotely believable. If you're gonna pull this off, you need to be hard, but cool. Convincing.

Frank: Wha-? Oh. OK. Sorry.

Gary: Look man, you got us into this mess. You have to get us out of it. That's agreed. But you've got a warped perspective of this lifestyle.

Frank: What do you mean?

Gary: It's not all witty obscene dialogue and jump cuts. This is real. This is my life. Look, we've been friends a long time. But I been doing this shit alot longer. That cock-up, getting taken on your first buy - that was bush league. That was flyweight.

Frank: Gimme a break man. That was weeks ago.

Gary: Yeah, it was. But here we are, two weeks later, and all that money is still gone.

Frank: I'm gonna set this right with you.

Gary: You better. Because otherwise we're both dead. If I get killed, I'm gonna take you with me.

Frank: I said I was sorry. And I am.

Gary: I know. I know.

Frank: I will make this right.

Gary: I know you will.

Frank: Right.

Gary: Yesterday, for example, you were aces. I said as much to Big Man. He was impressed

Frank: Really? Awesome.

Gary: Yeah, really. Cuz he doesn't know you lost 6,000 of his dollars.

Frank: And he never will. After I scoot in there, go all Scarface- no, all Taxi Driver up in the joint. We'll be even-up... I take back what they took. Jungle law, and all that. I'll be squares. Seriously: I will buy you dinner tonight. I owe you that.

Gary: Fucking rights you do. Thanks. Look, let's run through this again.

Frank: Alright, I go in there.

Gary: Where?

Frank: Pablo's. On fourth. Side door. I say I'm looking for Punchy Walnuts.

Gary: Then what?

Frank: They take me upstairs...

Gary: And?

Frank: And I pull a motherfuckin’ Joe Pesci Goodfellas. Then I whip this ultra-realistic weapon out of my backpack, and stick them the FUCK UP!

Gary: Yes! Yes you do. Aces. Now go get them. You're the man!

They have a short awkward embrace. Frank Leaves. Gary waits, pulls out his mobile phone. Dials a number.


Gary: Hey. It's done. Wanna go get some dinner?

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11 May 2009

Rock Paper Scissors - Scissors cuts paper

I'll be delivering my first workshop on Rock Paper Scissors Thursday morning.

The title of this interactive presentation is tentatively: "Rock Paper Scissors: Management Tool, Leadership Strategy."

It covers everything from the origins of the game, to basic gameplay, to advanced strategies, to the practical applications in the workplace.

In these uncertain economic times any tactical advantage (in any arena) can be a real 'game-changer'. Extensive knowledge of the strategies and psychology of RPS can swing the Ro-cham-bo over a lunchtime cheque to your advantage.

Or, if you're worried about your job consider challenging your supervisor to a best 2of 3. Loser takes a paycut. Or a walk.

But don't consider these options until you've considered my half-day workshop:

"Rock Paper Scissors: Management Tool, Leadership Strategy."

Forewarned is forearmed. Forearmed like our forebears mean you won't have to foreswear any advantage. Use your mind and:

Cover rock,
cut paper &
smash scissors!!

Naturally I am greatly indebted to the World RPS Society website for their assistance in my presentation preparation. I will in turn support them by buying a bad-ass 'Scissors cut paper' shirt with the screenprint above.

As I said, I am available to come to your organization and deliver this dynamic, delightful, useful, entertaining, educational presentation.

Game theory, dispute resolution, team bonding and strategic thinking... Don't sleep on this opportunity, inquire NOW!

UPDATE: The workshop has been postponed, but when it goes down it will be awesome! Guaranteed.


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06 May 2009

In Rome

Well, as far as a holiday goes, this isn't very relaxing. But we have managed to do a whole lot of visiting, eating, and shopping - for presents mostly, for the celebrants we are here to celebrate their celebrations with, but it's nice.

There's definitely things I miss about this city, and I'm glad to be here, but I don't miss living here so much.

In fact, I'm doing more looking forward to London, then revelling in the Roman past. But for now, we'll soak up the little things - often of a gustatory nature - while we are here.

As they say: when in Rome...

...eat, drink and be merry.

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