A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ & Micetro™

by Richard Ross
Preface by Rebecca Stockley Illustrations by Nina Paley and Richard Ross Published by Bay Area Theatresports™ San Francisco, California

First Edition Published 2001 © Richard Ross and Bay Area Theatresports™ Center for Improvisational Theatre, Building B, Third Floor Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA 94123 Phone: 415-474-8935 Fax: 415-474-9385 E-mail: info@improv.org www.improv.org Bay Area Theatresports Performing Gorilla Theatre™ & Micetro™ is fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America, and of all countries covered by the International Copyright Union (including the Dominion of Canada and the rest of the British Commonwealth), and of all countries covered by the Pan-American Copyright Convention and the Universal Copyright convention, and of all countries with which the United States has reciprocal copyright relations. All rights, including all form of mechanical or electronic reproduction, such as information storage and retrieval systems and photocopying, and the right of translation into foreign languages, are strictly reserved.

You must be licensed by The International Theatresports Institute in Calgary, Canada, to perform Theatresports™, Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™. For more information or to order Keith Johnstone’s Newsletters Contact the International Theatresports Institute P.O. Box 82084, 1400 - 12 Ave. S.W., Calgary, AB, T3C 3W5, CANADA Telephone 403-246-5496 o Fax 403-249-8670 o E-mail admin@intl-theatresports.ab.ca
We put this stuff on here not because we are trying to make a whole bunch of money, or because we are control freaks. It is because too many people lose the rights to their work if they do not specifically state things. All hail the lawyers.

I would like to thank William Hall, Paul Killam, Sean Hill, Diane Rachel, Sheffield Chastain Kasey Klemm and all the people who attended Keith’s intensive sessions at Bay Area Theatresports™ over the years for all of their time, support and insight. I would like to thank Rebecca Stockley for telling me I should write this handbook in the first place. I would also like to thank my wife Libby for her editing skills and for being nice to me, Ann Feehan and Barbara Scott for their proofing skills, and Bay Area Theatresports™ for existing. And I want to thank Keith Johnstone for creating all the formats, for teaching them to me, and for not lying to my face after a bad show.

A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ & Micetro™

by Richard Ross
Preface by Rebecca Stockley

Table Of Contents
Preface 1 Introduction 3 Mischief 5
What is Mischief or Bad Behavior? 5 The Mr. Davies Convention 7 Where To Start For Mischief 8 Running Gags 8 Heat And The Heel 9 Some Random Stuff Keith Said About Mischief And Bad Behavior 12 Some Examples Of Mischief 12

Directing 15
We Direct All The Time 17 What Comes Next 17 Who Should Direct? 18 Some Of Keith’s Coaching Hints From “News 5" 18 Directing Is A Responsibility 18 Scene Lists 19 Directing vs. Side Coaching 19 How Do You Become A Good Director? 19 Concise Directions 20 Setting Up Scenes 20 Going Back 21 Look For Endings 21 Don’t Try To Improve A Scene By Making It More Complicated 22 Tell Stories And Use Story Forms That You And The Audience Already Know 22 Tilts 22

Micetro™ 27
The Best Game 27 One Big Team 27 Description Of The Game 28 Logistics 28

Unfairness 30 Ego 30 Why The Numbers 31 Directed Impro? 32 Playing 33 Taking Directions 34 Hosting 35 Directing Micetro™ 40

Gorilla Theatre™ 45
The Other Best Game 45 Not For Beginners 45 One Big Team, Ego, And Unfairness 46 Description Of The Game 46 Four Or Five Directors? 47 Why Time The Directors? 47 Score keeping, Timekeeping And The Scoreboard. 48 The Gorilla 49 Reigning Champion 50 Commentating 50 Forfeits 54 Throwing In The Towel 57 Be Hungry To Direct 58 Directing Gorilla Theatre™ 58 Fight For What You Want 58 Make It Harder To Get What You Want 59 Themes 60 Personas 61 Directing Style 61

Conclusion 63 Appendix A: Notes 65 Appendix B: Keith Keith Keith 67 Appendix C: A Conversation With Keith 69 Appendix D: Scene lists 73

Introduction

Preface

Why This Book? In San Francisco, there was no “directed” improvisational theatre performed until 1994, when Gorilla Theatre™ was introduced to the BATS community. Initially there was a lot of resistance on the part of the players to being directed, and confusion as to just how to direct. It took several years for directed improvisation to be fully embraced as a performance format in California. We hope that others who are exploring directed improv might be spared the discomfort, growing pains, discussion and anxiety that BATS went through. We now perform a good deal of directed improv in San Francisco—first Gorilla Theatre™, then Micetro™, and finally More or Less have come to us from Calgary. The players are having fun, and the shows attract audiences. Rich Ross’ work has been key to the acceptance of Micetro™ (and therefore directed improv) in San Francisco. Since he has taken acres of useful notes on directing, I asked him to put together this handbook. In 1996 in Utrecht, The Netherlands, Keith Johnstone learned one morning over breakfast that he was expected to direct Theatresports™ that day, with a large group of students in front of an audience. He didn’t want to. So, he invented the Micetro™ format on the spot to accommodate this large group of improvisors. A few months later, Keith shared the format with the students of the BATS Summer School, among them Rich Ross.

A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™

Page 1

In the Fall season of 1996, BATS did a short run of Micetro™, calling it “The New Game”. It wasn’t very good. Experienced improvisors balked at being directed; inexperienced improvisors had no idea how to make the show work. The format was dropped. When Rich Ross became co-producer of the Workshop Players (the BATS students), he decided to produce Micetro™ instead of Theatresports™. He researched everything about the format--exploring the Summer School information, going to Calgary to see how they played it there, running workshops in directing—and through trial, error, and dedication, helped to make Micetro™ a BATS format. Rebecca Stockley - 2001 P.S. The name of the game is Maestro. Keith’s penchant for animal names in the theatre led him to suggest casually that called the game “Micetro” would provide an easy logo association; and of course, as often happens with Keith’s musings, it was accepted as The Rule.

Page 2

Richard Ross

Introduction

Introduction

Keith Johnstone’s directed impro formats rock. They’re fun, they help you improve your skills, and they present improv in a different and exciting way to the audience. This handbook is meant to support Keith Johnstone’s writings on Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™, not to replace them. To get the basics, please read Keith’s “News 5" and “News 6" 1 and if you can get your hands on it, the paper he wrote called “Gorilla™ and Micetro™”. I also recommend “Impro” or “Impro for Storytellers”. The more you understand Keith’s views on improv, the better you will understand his formats. Please keep in mind that the examples in this book are just that - examples. They are not meant to be “the way” to do things. If you try to understand the principals behind the examples, you will enjoy the formats more, and you will get better at the formats faster.

1. Both are available from The International Theatresports™ Institute, http://www.intl-theatresports.ab.ca A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™ Page 3

Page 4

Richard Ross

Mischief

Mischief

Mischief or bad behavior is one of the things that makes Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™ exciting to watch and play. In fact, I would say that the formats thrive on it. Mischief connects the players and makes Johnstone formats feel different from other forms of improv. If done well, mischief makes the show feel like a big, friendly family reunion. A useful way to think of Gorilla Theatre™ or Micetro™, or even Theatresports™, is as two shows going on in the same space of time. One show consists of all the short form scenes in the evening. The other is the soap opera of the competition. Think of the time “between the scenes” as a long form show; you have characters and relationships and you get to change and react to everything that happens. This will help to make the show into and event, make it different from other shows, and make it wildly exciting for the audience.

What is Mischief or Bad Behavior?
Mischief is basically causing minor trouble or disturbances during a show in a way that makes the show better or more entertaining. You can muck with scenes as long as your mucking is benevolent and good-natured. You can make fun of the other players or yourself; you can take the rules too seriously or object to a score between the scenes. There are many different kinds of mischief, but mischief should never be abusive or designed to destroy a scene. You must be helping the show with your mischief, not showing off for your own sake.

A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Mictro™

Page 5

Mischief

There tends to be something childlike about mischief, whether it is fun mischief or heel mischief. Bart Simpson is a great example of mischief: he is never cruel or mean, his is just playfully wicked. Have you ever been to a kid’s birthday party? The kids do all kind of weird stuff that is funny, at least to them, and they seem to be having the time of their lives doing it. They are irreverent, they do inappropriate-ish things. That is mischief, and it is fun to watch. Of course when the mischief goes too far, and someone gets their feelings hurt, it is not fun anymore. When the mischief gets dangerous, the adults have to put a stop to it. In Theatresports™ the players are like children while the judges are like parents. In Micetro™, the players are the children while the directors are the parents. In Gorilla Theatre™, the directors take turns being the parent when it is their scene. When it is not their scene, they are the children. A family, and the status within a family, is a good way to think about mischief. The kids can go crazy up to a point, but when that point gets passed the parents or other siblings must put a stop to the nonsense. So, in a show, the directors can control the mischief, but so can the other players. Once, in a Theatresports™ show, I tried being angry with the judges for being grossly unfair. Actually, I was yelling at them. The judges were not doing anything to stop me (not punishing me, not telling me to sit down, and not telling me to stop), I was rapidly running out of things to say, and the audience was confused. Paul Killam, my teammate, tackled me, and dragged me kicking and yelling, back to the team bench. Paul’s actions did a couple of things; I got punished for yelling; it showed the audience that we could control each other; it gave some sort of end to the mischief sequence; and most importantly, it showed the audience that it was all part of the show, rather than just an improviser losing it on stage. The audience loved it. When I went to argue with the judges later in the show,
Page 6 Richard Ross

Mischief

Paul was ready, and the audience wanted to see how he would handle me this time. M i s c h i e f c a n n o t e x i s t i n a v a c u u m . The person doing the mischief must have someone to play against. If the other players and the directors ignore the mischief, it just looks odd. The mischief is like any other offer - it must be acknowledged and reacted to; if it isn’t it will just come off as lame. Kasey Klemm did some mischief if a Gorilla Theatre™ show where he came out and said something like “It is hard to be an improv prodigy. I am the youngest ever to be in the BATS company and I was voted in because I am an improv genius”. The first night he did this the other players did not know how to react and didn’t really do anything. He stuck with it, but the audience did not know how to react and thought that maybe he was just a jerk, and the whole thing felt odd. It got better as the night went on. The second night he did this, the other players quickly reacted, they made faces, said “oh please”, and would call him up for scenes but immediately send him off. In short, they teased him for being so pompous. They acknowledged what he was doing, which let the audience know it was in good fun, and allowed him to be the bad guy on stage, instead of just a jerk. It worked and it was wonderful.

The Mr. Davies Convention
Sometimes a player will go too far with mischief. It stops working, it is offensive, it is getting in the way of the scenes. So, there needs to be a way to curb the mischief if it gets out of hand. The problem is how do you control mischief without crushing the ability to do mischief? Graham Davies from Calgary is very good at mischief. His mischief is almost always funny, yet it has gotten in the way of the scenes. Graham came up with a way simple cue for his fellow directors and players to let him know if they were sick of what he was doing, if what he was doing was going too far, or if it was hurting the show. The
A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Mictro™ Page 7

Mischief

cue is simple: call the person doing the mischief by their formal last name, Mr. Davies. Mr. Hall. Ms. Stockley. The beauty of this cue is that it allows the people doing the mischief to go as far as they want, to be unrestrained in the mischief, while giving the other players a way to tell them they have gone too far. The cue is easy to hear, because it is very different from the way improvisers normally address each other. Shana Merlin from “We Could Be Heros” in Austin was directing in a rehearsal and the entire cast was getting out of hand. They kept forcing their way into the scene set up. She said something like “Mr. We Could Be Hero’s, I would like to start the scene”. It was great because up until that point what they were doing was fun, they all heard the cue, and she was able to get the scene going.

Where To Start For Mischief
I suggest you start with some characteristic of your personality and amp it up. It is easier to expand something you already have, than to force a new personality on yourself. If you are enthusiastic, be even more so. If you are a control freak, try to be in charge, or be hyper aware of the rules. If you are confident, become a little pompous. If you express yourself physically, take that a little farther. Just don’t forget that your mischief should not be wrecking scenes, or slowing down the show, it should help the show. Don’t just blindly copy someone else’s mischief. Copying tends to make mischief seem forced rather than spontaneous. It is like putting on someone else’s tailored suit - it may fit you but it will look odd. Your mischief should come from you. This is not to say you shouldn’t learn from other people’s mischief, or that your mischief will not be similar to theirs. Just try to think about it and make it your own.

Running Gags
Sometimes someone will enter scenes as a character from a previous scene, and the director will send them
Page 8 Richard Ross

Mischief

off. The audience laughs, the scene is not ruined, and the audience sees that everyone on stage is good-natured. It seems as if this is only acceptable in the first thirty seconds or so of a scene. It is important to not enter with a gag because you think it is funny; you should only be entering because it will make the show better. 1 Once the scene is going, entering with the gag is too intrusive and derailing to the scene, while the early entry is not really stopping the momentum of the scene. Entering with the gag to end a scene may be a helpful option.

Heat And The Heel
From Keith Johnstone’s “Gorilla and Micetro”: “‘Heat’ is a wrestling term meaning uproar among the crowd, and wrestlers create it by self-aggrandizement, and by seeming to pummel their opponent’s perfectly healthy but heavily bandaged arm. In Gorilla Theatre™2 heat is usually generated by the performers behavior between scenes and by their interactions with the ‘directors’.” To generate heat, you need to give the audience permission to boo and yell at you, and to love to hate you. Booing is good. When the audience boos a director in Gorilla Theatre™ (or at an incorrect score in Micetro™), the energy in the house goes way up, and generally they all laugh a lot at the end of the booing. The audience gets more interested in the show if they get to boo as well as to cheer. There is no feeling like having the audience boo you when it is your turn to direct in Gorilla, but give you a banana because your directing was so good. An example of
1. Keith’s comments: “Dubious value [of such a gag] establishes the expectation of stupidity [for the audience]. 2. I believe this description of heat holds true for Micetro as well A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Mictro™ Page 9

Mischief

giving the audience permission to boo is the reigning champion in Gorilla Theatre™ taking the stage at the beginning of the show proclaiming arrogantly “the simian will be mine again”. The heat in Micetro™ is slightly different from that of Gorilla Theatre™ because there are so many players on stage. You may not necessarily want to be a heel, but you may want to do some heelish things to generate heat 3 . Sheffield Chastain was in a scene early in a Micetro™ that got a 5. As the next scene was being set up, he came onstage, pointed at the players and said in a cocky way “You’ve got to follow the five”. This set him up as the heel and he continued to be arrogant for the rest of the show. The heel is the person you love to hate. There is a fine line here between the audience loving to hate you and just not liking you. Somehow, you need to convey that the mean attitudes you are using are all in good fun. It is difficult to explain how to do this, so I suggest you watch people who are good at it. They seem to have a gleam in their eye that lets you know it is all in good fun. They also don’t always win the status battles with the other players, which makes them seem genuine and vulnerable in a way that engenders the “all in good fun” feeling. One night in Gorilla Theatre™, Paul Killam played Director X and wore a Mexican wrestlers mask the entire show 4 . He would strut on the stage and claim that he was going to win the gorilla. He would command the players onto the stage and command them in the scenes instead of nicely directing them. The audience did not like him, but
3. Keith’s comments: “It is awful when someone does ‘heat’ when they have nothing else to offer. ‘Heat’ is one element among many others” 4. Keith had some issues with the Wrestlers mask; “The makes might have worked if he hadn’t been a player in scenes. But to play each scene in the mask - in the same mask - seems pointless. ‘Heat’ should seem to be playful, not a ‘put on’. Page 1 0 Ross Richard

Mischief

they loved not liking him. I threw him out of a scene because he was not playing it the way I wanted and he turned and stared at me in that “how dare you do this to me” way. Under his breath he said, “I will kill you”. The audience was leaning forward waiting to see what would happen. Would he attack me? Would I put him back in the scene? That’s heat. I stood up to him and he backed down and the audience loved it. Later in the show, all the directors were messing with him by finding ways to come into his scene when he didn’t want them too. It was like King Kong fighting off the biplanes. The great Director X had lost control! Finally he had enough when I knocked on the door and entered the scene, and turned towards me, forgetting all about the scene, and yelled “Kill You”, and attacked me. We wrestled out way off stage and I got away from him. It was a great way to end the show. Dan Klein was another great heel. He claimed that he would win the gorilla because he knew what the audience wanted to see, and that was audience members in the scenes. He brought people up and directed great scenes with them, and the audience gave him forfeits because they did not like being told they had to like him! What made it so wonderful were his reactions. He looked shocked, he told them he was shocked, but he kept trying. The scenes were great and when the audience finally gave him a banana they went crazy with cheering. It was awesome. For the heel mischief and heat to work the other people onstage must react to what is being done. Whatever the heel is doing is an offer, and if an offer is ignored it just lies there like a dead fish. Of course, not everyone can be a heel in the same show. The heel needs someone to play against. So we need some kind of “good guy” to battle the guy we love to hate. Being the heel can be hard for several reasons. Mainly because you are trying to get the audience to not like you. This is generally difficult for improvisers because we are trained to be good-natured, so the audience likes us. The other reason it seems to be hard is because it is
A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Mictro™ Page 1 1

Mischief

tricky. You need to get the audience to not like you, but in the way that makes them love not to like you, not just think you are a jerk. Give being the heel a try, it can be rewarding, fun, and it can open up a whole new way of being onstage.

Some Random Stuff Keith Said About Mischief And Bad Behavior
• If 2 people are asked for, 10 should rush up - but not always. • Anxiousness may disappears with mischief. • There becomes no division between the playfulness and the work, depending how playful it is. • The directors are lion tamers and the beasts are always pawing at them. • It should look difficult for the directors to control actors, but it shouldn’t look malicious – cannot look mean – just high spirits. • Said secretly to the players - “Mess with me, screw me up” - when directing. • It’s about putting up a good show, not shining. • Be ready to jump into a scene if you are needed, as a character or an offstage voice.

Some Examples Of Mischief
• Dennis Cahill intentionally mocked the judges in a Theatresports™ show until they made him go backstage for two minutes. • Fall in love with someone on the stage or in the audience and keep trying to get them to go on a date. • Once, in Micetro™, I was eliminated in the first elimination. I kept my number and from time to time would show up onstage when the directors called out the players. • Be outraged at other peoples score. • In Micetro, go onstage every time players are called out.
Page 1 2 Ross Richard

Mischief

• In • In • In • In will

Micetro, stay onstage after you are eliminated. Micetro, give yourself extra points. Gorilla, steal another player’s banana. Gorilla, if a player gets a forfeit, brag that you now show everyone a good scene.

A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Mictro™

Page 1 3

Mischief

Page 1 4 Ross

Richard

Directing

Directing

An E-mail conversation between Rich Ross and John X Heart about Directing Micetro™, but the ideas are also applicable to Gorilla Theatre™. X> H e r e ' s m y q u e r y , w h a t a r e t h e t r i c k s of the trade, in your opinion, for the directing of the Micetro™? RR>First and foremost, follow your instincts. I will write it again, it’s that important. Follow your instincts. Immediately. You know what is right, and you have to jump on it the minute you think of it. If you don't the scenes will get out of your control. I still forget to do this and it pisses me off. X> B y t h a t I g u e s s I m e a n w h a t h a v e y o u found to be the fun and useful things to do with those scenes? RR>Getting players to do things they generally avoid, or are scared of is fun. Setting up scenes that interest me (but not being wedded to my thoughts) makes the show more fun. X> D o y o u g e n e r a l l y h a v e g a m e s o r themes in mind before you start? RR>No games. Don't do games, or what Keith calls "lock ins". Instead of setting up a new choice game, play the game somewhere in the scene. Play the game without naming it. Say "new choice" as a direction. That way you are not locked into doing a scene that sucks because it should be going its own direction, but it can’t because it is locked into the game. If you get a laugh I will replace you, you can
A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™ Page 1 5

Directing

only say yes, that’s right, sounds good to me, and stuff like that should also be used, but should not be played as lock ins. You should only set up game for variety if the show needs it. Before each show I make lists. Current events, Platforms, tilts, Platforms specific tilts, directions (ones I tend to forget like slow motion, back it up to..., or freeze), relationships, lock in games - to not be played as lock ins but used as direction, solo scenes, accents. These list are short, if you do one scene that draws from each list you have a wellrounded show, and I make them before the show. I used to make huge lists at home just for practice. Have all kinds of themes, but remember these are just starting points and you should not be wedded to your idea. Gorilla is about the directions vision, Micetro™ is about making the scene onstage work. X> W h a t h a v e y o u f o u n d u s e f u l i n s h a p ing the show? RR>Having a sense of shape of show. Duh! Also, a list of scene types you want to do, that make up a good show, and go through them. Group, physical, verbal, solo, two person, cultural, fun, and more. X> I s a p a r t i c u l a r s t y l e o f d i r e c t i n g m o r e productive than another? RR>Yes. Aggressive. You have to not be afraid to push the scene around. You know what is right, or you wouldn't be directing. Your job is to make scenes good and you must be able to control the scene WHEN it needs it. Tentative directors, well, suck. By the time they decide to do something, the scene is gangrenous. Don’t sit on your calls. You don’t have to be a dick; you just need to get it done. Don't over direct, and shut up when something interesting is going on.

Page 1 6

Richard Ross

Directing

We Direct All The Time
In a sense, we direct all the time. When you are watching improv, theatre, TV, or a movie you are constantly making up stories in your head about what is going on and where you think the story is going. This is one of the ways you stay interested, and if what actually happens is too far outside what you think should happen, or what you have been lead to expect to happen, you change the channel. Keith calls this the “circle of possibilities” or the “circle of expectations”. Given the initial information in a scene, there are only so many things that make sense to come next. As more information is given, the circle of possibilities gets smaller. As offers get farther from the center of the circle, they become less satisfying to the people watching the scene. For example, imagine a scene set up on a lifeboat. Immediately a whole bunch of stuff springs to mind that you might expect in the scene: dehydration, starvation, sharks, desperation cannibalism, struggle for the flare gun, mermaids. Most people would, and should, be unhappy with an offer of having a party on the lifeboat, because it is way to the outside of the circle of expectations. The point is, be obvious when you are in scene or when you are directing one. If you make sure the obvious thing comes next in the scene, you can’t go wrong. It is important to note that “obvious” is different for different people. What is obvious to me may not be obvious to you. However, if you do go with what you think is obvious, chances are that choice will be within most other peoples “circle of possibilities”.

What Comes Next
It is easy to know what has to happen from the outside of a scene, but harder from the inside. If you have played "What Comes Next", you know what I am talking about. In "What Comes Next", it is easy
A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™ Page 1 7

Directing

to know what the scene needs from the audience, slightly harder when you are on the committee of 3, even harder when you are the committee of 1, and even harder when you are telling yourself what comes next. I try to get into the mind set of an audience member when I am directing. Or, I pretend that I am just watching a scene from the audience, or watching TV in my living room. At home I “interact” at the TV all the time because the characters don’t do what should come next. Pretend you are in your living room watching TV and trust your own instincts.

Who Should Direct?
Keith Johnstone says it perfectly in “News 5" “Gorilla Theater™ [directing] is not for beginners, and even a good improviser may be a poor coach. ‘Directors’ need to understand the art of story-telling, and they must be able to identify the defenses that the improvisers are using, and intervene to remove them”.

Some Of Keith’s Coaching Hints From “News 5"1
• Eliminate ‘Bridging’ • Force Transitions • Remove defensive Blocking • Enforce a ‘Positive’ attitude • Combine elements • Remove Cancling • Enforce Recapitulation [reincorporation] • Suggest ‘corrective’ games • Explore latent material

Directing Is A Responsibility
The director is the critical position in the show. It is your duty to prepare all you can before a show. You need to think and put the mental energy into learning how to
1. Read News 5 for detailed discussion of these hints. Page 1 8 Richard Ross

Directing

direct. Think about how and what you are going to do as director. You are asking the players to trust you totally, to instantly do what you tell them to do, to believe you are there to help then – the least you can do is prepare adequately.

Scene Lists
I make lists of types of scenes and directorial aids. Group scenes, hoops, platforms, solo, platforms, relationships, tilts, platform specific tilts, games, genres, mantras, open tilts, mechanical endowments, character types, titles, movement, current events, movie styles, play styles, etc. If we do a scene from each list in a given night, the show cannot help but be well rounded. Making lists is like practicing martial arts techniques. You work the parts over and over again so they become second nature. If you make lots of lists like the ones above, you are more likely to recall something from the list while you are directing in a show. They also make great reference material. I think generating lists is critical to becoming a good director.

Directing vs. Side Coaching
The difference is intent. In side coaching the players are in control, and the coach is just trying to help. When you direct, you are in control. It is your scene, and your responsibility to make it good, and sometimes you will have to grab the scene by the throat and shake it back on track.

How Do You Become A Good Director?
Read Keith’s newsletters. Think about what makes good improv. Put the mental energy into getting better. The role of director can be practiced. To learn to be a good director you can’t just practice it a couple of times in a class, or rehearse it a few times at a workout. You need to think about it. You need to talk about it. You need to want
A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™ Page 1 9

Directing

to get better, because it doesn’t just happen by itself. What worked for me was generating lists. Think about scenes while you are driving. Think about what is going on in your life. Look for platforms and tilts in TV shows and movies. Keep a notebook with you at all times and write stuff down when it comes to you. Research. Even now, when I think I have a handle on directing, I am constantly thinking and writing. Sheffield Chastain read TV Guide religiously. Understand platform, tilt and short form improv in general. Practice, prepare, rehearse.

Concise Directions
Directions need to be given in a clear, short, understandable manner. This is hard to do. “I didn’t know what you wanted” is something you don’t want to hear from the actors. Being concise lets the players know exactly what you want immediately. They will love to be directed by you, because they understand what you want. If they trust you they will feel that they can do or say anything. Concise directions are also less intrusive to the scene. As is waiting for a natural break in the dialogue before giving your direction. If you wait for the break, you a can avoid talking over the players, and if you wait, they may say what you are about to tell them to say on their own. Giving directions is like entering a scene: sometimes you know you have to do it, but if you wait just a second your entrance will be more powerful.

Setting Up Scenes
You also want your scene set ups to be concise. If you are talking for more than 30 seconds you are probably confusing everyone with too much information. You should only give enough information to make the actors comfortable so they stop thinking and improvise. You don’t want to give extraneous details or too much information, because that is what the actors are for – to fill out the scene. If you are giving them too much info,
Page 2 0 Richard Ross

Directing

you might as well just write a script for a sketch show. Just give them enough to get them going in the right direction.

Going Back
Rewinding the scene 20 seconds or so to the point where it went off track is one of the most difficult things to do while directing. It just feels odd to stop the scene from going forward. It is, however, sometimes necessary. When you get the impulse that the scene is going in the wrong direction, you should deal with it immediately. If you don’t, not only will the scene continue to spin out of control, but you may start not paying attention to what is currently going on in the scene. Then you don’t know if you should stop the scene because maybe the players got it back on track - but you are unsure because you weren’t paying attention - which makes it even harder to go back and get the scene on track. So, trust your impulses, and act on them quickly.

Look For Endings
Directors should always be looking for endings. 2 Always be asking yourself “How do you get out of this scene?” Look for a good laugh or some reincorporation or a good summation line and then wave the scene down. Endings are so important. Many scenes go on way to long, and we can stop this. Examples of things to say to encourage endings: • Find an ending. • Repeat the last line with confidence. • Let whatever happened sink in. • Find a way to leave. • Hug • Touch her/him • Kiss

2. Keith’s comments: “[directors] should be looking of tilts. Everyone should be looking for endings. A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™ Page 2 1

Directing

Don’t Try To Improve A Scene By Making It More Complicated
When you are directing, you should be looking for ways to reincorprate what has come before in the story instead of piling on the offers. Adding more to a scene does not help it just gives you more to deal with. Simple is better. You really only need one interesting idea in a scene, so instead of adding to a scene that is tanking, try to use what is already there.

Tell Stories And Use Story Forms That You And The Audience Already Know
People love to watch stuff they are familiar with. Familiar stories are easy to absorb. Audiences feel good when they’re right about what is going to happen. If you hit on a story structure that you are familiar with, don’t be scared to go with it. The format “Once upon a time…And every day…Until one day…Because of that…Because of that…Until finally…Ever since that day…” is a great one. Don’t be afraid to use it. Simple is good.

Tilts
Keith has written a whole bunch of stuff about tilts in “News 6". Read it. What follows are some different ways to think about what Keith wrote. • A tilt is an offer that changes the relationship of the characters on stage. • A tilt scene is a scene where the tilt is the significant offer of the scene. The idea is to set up platform for the scene in which not much happens until the tilt. In a tilt scene you want the tilt to be a strong tilt. • A platform is the first part of the scene in which we get to know who is in the scene, what their relationship is, where they are, and maybe what their objectives are. CROW stuff. Basically, we get to see
Page 2 2 Richard Ross

Directing

the characters in the scene in their normal, boring environments. • In a platform/tilt scene we see the impact of the tilt better because we have a good idea of what life was like before the tilt. • There are strong tilts and weak tilts. In a tilt scene we want the tilt to be as strong as possible. Keith describes it as a large rock being dropped into a small puddle. When this happens, the pond, or the scene, is undeniably changed. • The reactions to tilts are critical. The relationship between the characters can only change if the characters react to the tilt. In many ways the weight of the tilt can be attributed to the reaction of the tilted. If you over accept an offer, it can become a stronger tilt. If you are not affected by an offer, it becomes a weaker tilt. • Tilt scenes are nice but all scenes do not have to be tilt scenes. The trick to setting up a tilt scene is to have no clever ideas happen in the first 30-45 seconds of the scene. The audience will be content to watch very little happening on stage for this amount of time because they believe something significant will soon happen. They are content to get to know what the scene is about for a while. However, there is a point in a scene where something has to happen. We have all felt it as improvisers and as audience members. Once we understand characters, relationships, objectives, and where, the scene needs to move forward. Try to identify that moment and try not to stretch the platform beyond it. Setting up a scene with a specific tilt in mind can be tricky. You need to make sure the players don’t do anything interesting, because then the scene will be about that interesting thing. If I have a particular tilt in mind, I need to figure out what the platform for that tilt will be. If I can’t set up the platform, there is no way I can make the tilt happen. Keith lists lots of tilts in “News 6" and in
A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™ Page 2 3

Directing

“Impro for Storytellers”. To make these lists useful for me, I had to make corresponding lists of platforms to go with the tilt. For example, the “Discover your roommate is an alien” tilt can only be a strong tilt if the platform has been set. To set up this tilt, I would set up the platform by telling the improvisers “You are two roommates fixing dinner”. If they do interesting stuff, I might say “too interesting” or “be less interesting” or “just be normal”. Once we have the idea that these are just two normal roommates, the tilt that one is an alien should have a bigger impact. Most of the time you don’t want to tell the audience or the improvisers what the tilt is when you are setting up the scene. First, the scene will probably just be bridging to the tilt. And second, you are locked into the tilt. If you keep the tilt in your pocket, you can disregard it if something brilliant happens onstage, and the scene is moving forward into the unknown. The idea of platform is useful in non-tilt scenes. We let the audience know what the scene is about. We establish genre, time (roman, contemporary, future), style, language, etc. Basically, we are easing the audience into the scene.

Some More Thoughts On Directing
• Some of the best directed scenes happen when the director has to say almost nothing after the set up. • Sometimes a director will have to supply every line in the scene. • Don’t forget about the theatrical elements of the theatre. Use the lighting, the sound system and whatever props are around to create different feels for your scenes. • Trust your instincts and don’t sit on your calls. If you are thinking it, the audience is probably thinking it as well.
Page 2 4 Richard Ross

Directing

• If someone enters a scene at the wrong time, send them off. • If people are making too many offers in a scene, stop them. • Look for players who look lost or confused and try to help them. • Look to keep the promises that have been made at the beginning of the scene. • You might want to direct a lot at the beginning of the show to let the audience see that the players are o.k. with being directed. • If an action is completed, you might consider it to be the introduction.

A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™

Page 2 5

Directing

Page 2 6

Richard Ross

Micetro™

Micetro™

The Best Game
Micetro™ is the best game because: • People of all skill levels can work together. • The game has different roles, so everyone is constantly learning. • New and experienced improvisers can experiment (with trusting their instincts, exuding energy, working on new characters, mischief, being bolder, making positive choices or learning when it is o.k. to break the rules of thumb) because if the scene goes goofy, the directors will fix it. • You can ask the director to push you in any direction you want to be pushed that evening. • Directing makes you a better improviser. • When you are eliminated, you learn to be humble and enjoy knowing you had a part in a good show. • Winning the match makes you feel great. • Losing the match, but knowing you helped make a great show, feels great too.

One Big Team
The main theme running through this discussion of Micetro™, is that everyone should be playing for the good of the show. I have, and have seen others, get eliminated on purpose because it makes the show better. If you can make the show better not only will the audience enjoy the show more, but also your fellow players will love you. So, focus on making the show good, rather than on making yourself look good.
A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Mictro™ Page 2 7

Micetro™

Also, trust the other players and the directors, even if you don’t think they are “good”. You have no choice but to work with them and the show will be better and everyone will feel better if everyone works together. Everyone is learning and no one is perfect 1 . It is wasted effort to be pissy about being in a scene with or being directed by someone you don’t think is “good”. It is better to use that energy to make your own play better. It works. Just decide to trust everyone. Really. Stay away from the dark side and bring up any “feelings” you have in notes after the show or with those people you have “feelings” about in private. The shows will be better and you, and everyone else, will have more fun.

Description Of The Game
In Micetro™, individual improvisers compete in directed scenes for points given by the audience. After each round of play, low scoring improvisers are eliminated from competition, until only the evenings best, the Micetro™, wins a framed five dollar bill.

Logistics
The players should enter and line up on the edge of the stage in ascending order of the numbers so the audience can get a good look at everybody. The players gather on stage right until they are called into a scene or join a scene. After they have performed in a scene, they move over to stage left. When the round is over, all the players cross back to stage right for the next round. At BATS sometimes we have the players waiting stage left and right in the wings, sometimes in the moat in front of the stage, sometimes in the seating area audience left and right, and sometimes right on the stage. All these
1. Keith’s comments: “Accept that you learn by playing the game, and that when you start everyone is a beginner. Always use the best directors available” Page 2 8 Richard Ross™

Micetro™

positions will work, and have their pros and cons. For example, being in the wings gives the players easier access to the stage, but hides them from the directors. Try it different ways and see which works best in your theatre. The important thing to remember is that there should be an easy separation between players who have gone in a round and players that haven’t. The first elimination comes at the end of the second round. This is to show the audience how the game works. Going through three rounds before the elimination is just too long. The interval comes in the middle of the third round. This gives the audience some suspense as to who is going to get eliminated and they want to come back after the interval. The first half should run 50 to 60 minutes. The second half should run 30 to 40 minutes 2 . In general, scenes in the first half should be less “gamey” (games can make it hard for directors to give direction) and more concerned with doing good scene work. Feel free to have the first half scenes involve only two players – especially if there is a small cast that evening. It is not necessary to always have group scenes to “get through” the first two rounds. Good shape of show should be the goal. When all but 3-5 players have been eliminated the last round begins. Often, the last round consists of solo scenes. Don’t be afraid to have all the soloists do a solo scene from nothing. The audience wants a chance to compare to players for their “Micetroness” and a good way to achieve this is to have the players perform the same type of scene. There should also be some solo scenes in other parts of the show. At the end of the show everyone who is eliminated should rush the stage to congratulate the Micetro. The show is supposed to be good-natured competition; make it feel that way.

2. The important thing is that the second half feels shorter than the first. A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Mictro™ Page 2 9

Micetro™

Unfairness
Keith intended Micetro™ to be an unfair game. Be prepared for it. Sometimes the audience will vote a scene low just for fun. Sometimes you will be in a scene that tanks because the directors are not “on” at the moment. Sometimes you will play with people whom you feel are no good and dragged the scene down. Sometimes you will be eliminated because the scorekeeper made a mistake that nobody else caught. Sometimes somebody will get to the final round simply because they had a solo scene early in the show (and solo scenes almost always get high scores). Forget about the unfairness. The point is to put on a good show for the audience, and get better at improv, not to shine.

Ego
To make Micetro™ work it is critical that everyone involved let go of their egos and work for the benefit of the show. This is especially important for players. Realize, and get used to the idea, that you may only be in two scenes on a particular night. Be happy in the knowledge that the scenes you were in, no matter how good or bad, help the show 3 . A good scene makes the show better by being good, and bad scene make the show better by showing the audience that sometimes improv does not work, and that good-naturedness abounds in the cast. In another type of theatrical production, you may only have one line to say in the whole show. You would show up to weeks of rehearsals, be at the theatre three hours before you went on and you would say your one line, be done and be happy about it. Enjoy the scenes you are in, instead of being bitter you are not in more. The two scenes in the evening are not your last two scenes, there are more shows coming up. Remember that your goal is to make the show good; be proud that the audience enjoyed
3. Keith’s comments: “To hell with the show - work for the good of the scene”. Page 3 0 Richard Ross™

Micetro™

the show you helped make, regardless of how many scenes you were in. Without you, the show would not be as good as it was. People who are “better” tend to get eliminated later in the shows consistently. Some players who think they are “better” get eliminated at the first elimination, and get pissed off about it. Don’t. If you are getting eliminated at the first elimination consistently, it may not be because the game is unfair and the directors’ suck and you were in scenes with “bad” people, it might be because you are not as “better” as you think. The audience, over time, is a good judge of skill, trust them and learn from them. If you keep getting eliminated, do something different: more mischief, more character, look happier, open your eyes more, do more accents, do less accents, calm down, etc. Talk to other people for more ideas on what you could do better. After all, in improv you should always be learning. Remember that you are not being eliminated because you are a bad person or you are a bad improviser. You are being eliminated because that particular audience did not like the scenes you were in, on that particular night for particular reasons germane to a particular show.

Why The Numbers
In Micetro™, the players all wear pennies with numbers on them. According to Keith, having players wear numbers is critical to the format, and I agree. The numbers allow the audience to instantly identify the players with their score on the score board. There are too many players onstage for the audience to remember names or to connect those names to faces. Also, the numbers tend to make the players into a group instead of individuals for both the audience and the players. A group tends to act in the group’s best interests, while individuals tend to want to be liked by the audience. The numbers also make the show look different from any other improv show.

A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Mictro™

Page 3 1

Micetro™

Think of Micetro™ as a horse race (I think it would be great to have bookies taking bets before the show and during the interval). Now, imagine going to horse race and trying to see if your horse is winning if the horses are not wearing numbers. The numbers make the show more accessible to the audience. Wear the numbers.

Directed Impro?
The directors are there to direct because Micetro™ is a directed format. It seems weird to write this, but if you really don’t like directed improv, and you have in your heart of hearts really given it a chance, then you should ask yourself why you are participating in the format. If you truly hate it, don’t do it. Directing is the directors’ job, know that they are going to do it. You may be going somewhere brilliant and the director will direct you to take the scene in another direction. Go where the directors take you. Disagreeing with the directors rapidly undermines their role in the show. Disagreeing with the directors, breaking the scene and telling them you know where you are going, should be done only if you have a whole lot of experience in the format, and even then almost never. Remember, the directors are to blame for the scene, not the actors in the scene, and, after all, this is only one scene of the thousands you will perform during the rest of your life. Directing in Micetro™ is different that directing Gorilla Theatre™. In Gorilla Theatre™, the director is concerned with getting their vision on stage. In Micetro™, the director is concerned with making what the players do look good. Micetro™ is about the players and Gorilla Theatre™ is about the directors. So, in Micetro™ it is important for the directors to pay attention to what is going on onstage, and if it is working drop their idea, and let the scene work. Some players worry that directed improv doesn’t look improvised to the audience 4 . Don’t worry, it does.

Page 3 2

Richard Ross™

Micetro™

Once the setup is given it is clear that everyone is flying by the seat of their pants.

Playing
Micetro™ can be played with 10 – 50 players. Anything above 15 is a lot, and the directors will have to do many group scenes at the beginning of the show, and there will have to be large eliminations. There is nothing wrong with this. I like 12-14 players, because there can be more “scene” scenes at the top of the show. With 10 or less, the energy of the eliminations seems to get lost. 5 Players need to trust the director. They need to hit the stage with enthusiasm and look confident. Players should have something in mind for the scene in case the directors ask. Most importantly, the players need to remember that the directors are there to direct them, not to tell them what to do – a player must play the scene as if there is no director, making choices and following the story of the scene and integrating the directors directions seamlessly. Play the scenes as if there is no director, and pay attention to shape of show. If you know what comes next shape-ofshow-wise, tell the director you have an idea when you are called out. At the same time, don’t forget the directors are there and you can ask them for help if you are lost. Don’t be afraid to join a scene in progress if you have a call. If the directors don’t want you in the scene they will send you back. This is good! The audience sees the good-naturedness of the cast, and sometimes the player’s call is just what is needed in the scene. Go with your instincts; you can’t mess up a scene because the director is there to fix it.

4. Keith’s comments: “We don’t care. Only improvisors care if it is improvised”. 5. Keith’s comments: “12 - 15 is good, 10 - 15 is o.k., just try not to go above fifteen”. A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Mictro™ Page 3 3

Micetro™

Once you have done a scene in a round, you can still play in scenes in that round. Pay attention and be ready to help a scene if you can. If you haven’t been in a scene in a round, and you join a scene, the host or directors will ask you if you want to be scored for that scene. If you think the audience will score the scene high, you may want to get that score. If not, maybe not. Be warned the audience tends to like you more if you stick with your scene mates, but this is not always so. Players should not be waiting for the directors to tell them what to do; they should be making their own bold choices. If you look confident onstage, the director will be less likely to direct. If you look scared or lost, the director will try to help you.

Taking Directions
If the director says “Say ‘I have come to the jungle and I brought you this’" do not say “I was thinking about a trip I took, and I thought you might be interested in…”. If the director says “Say ‘I love you’" do not say “I was thinking about our relationship and think it is time to…”. Repeat the words of the director immediately and exactly because the director wants you to say them for a reason to get the scene on track as quickly as possible, to eliminate bridging, to move to the action, etc. I think that it is important to take the direction given by the directors instantly. News anchors on TV are constantly being given information and directions through a small speaker in their ear, the ear prompter. They generally do or say whatever the person speaking to them via the ear prompter tells them to. If they stopped to argue or to ask questions the flow of the program would be ruined. In Micetro™, the director is just like the ear prompter; the quicker you accept and act on the directions, the less intrusive those directions are to the scene, and the better the scene will flow.

Page 3 4

Richard Ross™

Micetro™

The audience loves to watch a player with their own idea instantly change when a direction is given. It looks good natured and shows the audience that the players are working with the directors.

Hosting
Hosting Micetro™ is deadly important and incredibly fun. Remember to enjoy it. All the players love you, because you are helping to make the show great. Below are some guidelines and ideas about what the host needs to do and how to do it. These are just guidelines, don’t be afraid to bring your own personality to the role of Host.

General Hosting
The Host is the first person the audience sees. It is important to appear good natured and knowledgeable about the format. As host you are the caretaker of the show, you are in charge; you need to make sure things keep moving. You decide when the first half is over. You will call when the eliminations happen, while the directors will actually announce the eliminations. You decide if you want to introduce the directors or if you want them to be “found” in their seats. You are there to keep the show hot…to keep the show going and to get rid of “dead time”. Don’t let the stage get cold. Get the score quick, throw the focus over to the directors, and then GET OFF THE STAGE. The show is not about the Host. The Host is there to grease the wheels and keep the show moving, not to be the star. The players are the stars of the show, let them shine.

Prepare Before The Show
PRACTICE what you are going to do. Hosting stuff can be rehearsed. If you bumble through the opening, you are taking up time that could be used for scenes.

A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Mictro™

Page 3 5

Micetro™

Get rid of the clipboard at the beginning of the show. Do it from memory, its not that hard. Make it simple. “Welcome to the show, I’m your host Jim Bean. Who has never seen Micetro™ before? Who has never seen improv before? Welcome them - this is a big deal and we want them to come back. Describe Micetro™. Tell them that the show is for them, and how they will score the scenes. Get them to clap for both a “1” and a “4”, bring out the directors and then the players, and turn it over to the directors for the first scene. IMPORTANT: in your introduction you must make the audience clap for a “1”. If you don’t, they will be afraid to give a “1”. When talking about the one make sure you tell the audience that the improvisers are tough and that they know when a scene deserves a “1”. Don’t have them clap for a “5”, do a “4” instead. This keeps the “5” special and magical.

A Sample Introduction Of Micetro™
Hello, and welcome to BATS. I am Susan Jones. Has anyone here never seen Micetro™ before? Has anyone here never seen improv before? Well, welcome, and thanks for coming. As you may know, tonight we are playing Micetro™. In Micetro™, individual improvisers compete in directed scenes. After each round of play, low scoring improvisers are eliminated from competition, until we are left with the evening’s best, the Micetro™. In this game you, the audience, determine the score for each scene. If you like the scene, for whatever reason, give it a five, if you don’t like it, give it a one. After each scene I will come to you and ask you to vote on a scale of one to five by applause only. A one is a scene that you did not like at all, while a five moved you to tears, made you think, or cracked you up. So let’ practice. Let’s say this scene is a one (and don’t be afraid to give a one because these improvisers are tough, they can take it). So, was that scene a one, a two, a three, a four, or a five? That scene
Page 3 6 Richard Ross™

Micetro™

was a one. This time let’s say the scene is a four. So, was that scene a one, a two, a three, a four, or a five? That scene was a Four. Great. I would like to introduce tonight’s directors Claude Raines and Jane Doe. And without any further ado, lets bring out the players…(the directors will ring the cow bell for the start of the first scene).

Commentating
After the introduction, the host can become more like a television sports commentator, giving useful information and reacting to things that happen in the scenes, both good and bad. You know, “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” kind of stuff. You can even give some personal information on the players so the audience gets to know them better. You can talk about who sponsors them. You can even help push scenes along by saying, “it looks like we are coming up to the ending” or “Looks like the scene went off track there”. Remember that the show is not about you as the commentator, so everything you say should be to help the show or the scene in progress. Be careful when you commentate while the scene is going on, do it sparingly and make sure you are trying to help. If you go the commentator route, the directors may take over more of the host functions like calling the eliminations, calling the half and announcing the Micetro™. The commentator is more like a sports caster than a host. The most important point is that the commentary adds to the show, rather than intruding on the show or becoming more entertaining that the show. Commentary is to support the show. Seeing good commentary is the best way to understand it. The cable show “Junkyard Wars” has great commentary, and is like the commentary we are looking for in Johnstone improv shows.

A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Mictro™

Page 3 7

Micetro™

Scoring
After the scene, get the score fast. If you go slowly, you can end up eating 15 – 20 minutes of show time with getting scores; time which could have been used for improvising. Be efficient. Also, be sure players who have done walk-ons, or players who were called out by number but did not get used in the scene, are asked if they want to be included in the score for the scene before you get the score. Sometimes the directors will do this for you. When getting the score, give the audience a chance to clap for each choice “Does that deserve a 1…a 2…a 3...a 4...or a 5…? If the vote is close, you can have the audience revote between the two numbers that were close. If you do a re-vote, you might want to ask the audience to vote by applause only so you can hear what the whole audience is voting, rather than just the people who scream the loudest. A re-vote should happen rarely, because it is better and faster if you just make a decision about the score. If the audience is voting high on a certain night, you might want to choose the lower score if the vote is close, and vica versa. When getting the score it is generally important to not sway the score. Don’t sarcastically say “And now whaddya think of that great scene”. Be neutral, don’t make comments about the scene, don’t let the audience know your opinion, and let the audience decide what they thought of the scene.

Scorekeeper And Scoreboard
There should be a scorekeeper in addition to the host. The scorekeeper should keep a list of scenes, who was in the scenes, and what score they got – this will be useful in notes after the show. The scorekeeper also is responsible for updating the scoreboard. At BATS we have a great big scoreboard with horizontal channels that dry erase placards slide in. Each player writes their number and their name on a placard,
Page 3 8 Richard Ross™

Micetro™

and as they get scored the placard is slid further along the channel. This is nice, because the audience can see at a glance how the field is doing. We are working on a new scoreboard that will use rows of LED lights to track the scores of the players. The important thing to remember about a scoreboard for Micetro™ is that the audience should be able to easily see and compare the players scores.

Eliminations
At the end of the first round say something like “That is the end of the first round and we are not going to eliminate anybody”. They players should cheer. This will help define the game, and generate good feeling in the audience. After the end of the second round, say something like “Its time for the first elimination, its time to say goodbye to” and list the players who are leaving. “The competition gets tuff now because we will be having elimination’s after every round”. Then throw it over to the directors for the first scene of the second half. Sometimes the directors will lead the eliminations. Eliminate however many people make sense to eliminate each round. In the first elimination, eliminate at least 2 people, because cutting one is too painful for the audience. The rest is up to you, given time constraints of the show. When elimination is coming up, keep an eye on the scoreboard and get an idea of who is to be eliminated. Sometimes it is obvious who is going to go. The more efficiently you can run the eliminations, the more time in the show there is for improv.

Plugs
Plugs go at the beginning of the second half, if you have to do them. They can also go anywhere there is a delay - a confusion in the score, bringing on the sofa or whatever. Keep the plugs simple: “If you like what you see
A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Mictro™ Page 3 9

Micetro™

here, we do more improv four days a week. We have a special show coming up on the 12th to benefit people with extra limbs. Check up front when you leave for more information”. Keep it short and get right back into the show by introducing the directors, bringing out the players and doing the first elimination.

Ending The Show
Before the last scene, check the scoreboard so you will know instantly who is the winner of the night. While the score is being “figured”, thank the musician, the lighting improviser and the directors. Say something like “Is there anyone here who thinks that this person does not deserve to be the Micetro™ (almost always one person will clap)? Is there anyone here who thinks this person does deserve to be the Micetro™ (Huge applause)? Give the Micetro a framed five dollar bill, then get everyone off the stage.

Directing Micetro™
The players in Micetro™ are of all different skill and experience levels. The Director needs to be able to direct all kinds of players. To direct Micetro™ • You need to understand Micetro™. • You need to be able to direct. • You need to know how to direct Micetro™. • You need to read “News 5" and “News 6". • You need to be prepared. • You need to understand storytelling. • You need to understand shape of show. • You need to understand how to feed the beast. • You need to be able to take control.

What Is The Directors’ Role?
Directors need to be “on”. Look for ways to end scenes. Know when to direct and when the players are on
Page 4 0 Richard Ross™

Micetro™

the right track. Make sure the scenes are good and shape of show is diverse. Keep the stage hot by being prepared to introduce the next scene.

Directors Set Up The Scenes And Help Each Other
Directors take turns setting up the scenes. Once the scene starts, both directors are directing. Of course the directors should be in tune with each other so as not to step on each others toes, and directors should be free to overrule each other, but only in extreme situations. Once someone sets up a scene, they don’t know where it will go, and the other director can help. Directors can ask the players if they have something for the scene or tell them to start from nothing.

Directors Are Part Of The Show
Directors need to get up, and not sit all the time. Just as when you are playing, if you sit, your energy goes out your butt. Direct from standing or out in the audience. Crouch in the moat so you are closer to the players. Move around. Be part of the show, not a voice from the dark that says things once and a while. Be a character in the scene. Be the offstage voice. Get invested in the scene. Narrate a story. Conduct the human orchestra. 6

Why 2 Directors?
The directors work as a team. They take turns setting up scenes so the one not setting up the scene has a little time to think about shape of show. What does the show
6. Keith now seems to disagree with the idea that Micetro™ directors need to move around. I think this is because he just doesn’t want to stand up. He also has seen may directors make the show about themselves and not the players, which is exactly opposite of what is needed in the format. Go figure A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Mictro™ Page 4 1

Micetro™

need? What kind of scene should come next? Six people? Solo? Game? Endowment? Narrative? Verbal? Physical? Also, each director gets to take a small mental break when the other director is directing. The director who set up the scene is more “responsible” than the one that didn’t. Note - even if you did not set up the scene, pay attention because your fellow director may experience a brain bubble at any time – you are just as responsible for the show, and scenes, as they are. If both directors are lost in a scene, end it and send the players back into the pool for another chance in that round.

Picking Players
Scenes are cast in Micetro™ by the director picking numbered coins, which correspond to the player’s numbers, and calling off those numbers. Thus, the scenes are cast at random, which gives some sort of casting equity to the players. People tend to get upset if the “good” people are always cast with other “good” people. With the coins, everybody gets to play with everybody. Keith says that you should drop the coins into a metal bowl of some kind when you call off the numbers. This makes a noise that lets the audience know that the players are being picked for the scenes randomly. If the coins are mucked up (they weren’t separated correctly, the got mixed up, or the most recently eliminated numbers have not been removed yet) you can cast by saying “I need three people”, or looking to see who is left in the game and calling out their numbers. Sometimes you can load the scene with players who either know the scene you want to direct or who will do a good job for shape of show reasons. I suggest you do this rarely.

What I Check Every Night I Direct Micetro™
• Get to the theatre for the warm up and warm up.
Page 4 2 Richard Ross™

Micetro™

• Direct some freeze tag so the players get used to my voice and my direction. • Make sure everything I need is on a table near where I will be directing during the show. • Know which director is doing the first scene. Pick the numbers for the next scene while the score is being gotten. • While the other director is directing, figure out what I am going to do next. • Let everyone know when the rounds are over. • Separate the coins when every scene is scored so as not to confuse players who have played in a round and those who haven’t. • Know who is directing the first scene in the second half.

A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Mictro™

Page 4 3

Micetro™

Page 4 4

Richard Ross™

Gorilla Theatre™

Gorilla Theatre™

The Other Best Game
Gorilla Theatre™ is the other best game for several reasons: • It allows you to express yourself by putting scenes you want to see on the stage. • The audience really gets to know you as a player or director by what you choose to direct, and from watching your interaction with the other directors. • Since the scenes are directed, you, as a player, get to go with your first instinct, and if it is not what the scene needs, the director will fix it. • The potential for mischief between the scenes makes the show fun and different. • The competition is easy to understand. • The scoring of the scenes is visceral for the audience. • Getting punished in a good-natured, safe environment, and getting punished is just plain fun. • Gorilla Theatre™ is a great way to package improv. • Often, a Gorilla Theatre™ show feels more like an event, rather than a theatre show - people screaming and booing, a gorilla onstage, people being punished – it is all very exciting.

Not For Beginners
Keith says Gorilla Theatre™ is not for beginners, and this makes sense. Everyone is directing, and to direct well you need an understanding of scene structure, storytelling, improv theory, and general stage experience.
A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™ Page 4 5

Gorilla Theatre™

The directors in Gorilla Theatre™ need to be good at directing. It is not fun for the players or the audience to watch a director stumble through a scene. Do your homework; people are counting on you to be good at your job.

One Big Team, Ego, And Unfairness
Even though winning should look important to the audience, it should be more important to the players to make the show good. It is important to remember that you are all on the same team. If you get a forfeit when you think you deserved a banana, let it go for the sake of the show, or make a big deal out of it if it helps define the heel or ups the stakes of the show. Don’t let the audience see pain on your face if you are really feeling that pain. Whatever you do, don’t get the vote changed. Losing can be just as important to the show as winning 1 . Remember, the game in itself should not be important for the players, but it needs to look important to the audience. Don’t get caught up in winning and losing. Just because you won the game does not mean you are the best improviser/director. Just because you lost does not mean you suck. The heel may do great scenes but never get a banana because the audience is enjoying punishing the heel. It is important for the audience to think you want to win. You can even really want to win, but you have to be good-natured about it when you lose. Don’t try to win at the expense of the show.

Description Of The Game
In Gorilla Theatre™, five improvisers take turns directing each other in scenes. Each improviser has a total of twelve non contiguous minutes in which to direct. At the end of each scene the audience will vote weather the
1. Keith’s comments: “Lose happily and people will like you”. Page 4 6 Richard Ross

Gorilla Theatre™

scene was directed well or not. If yes, the director gets a banana; if not, the director must perform a punishment. The improviser with the most bananas at the end of the night wins a week of quality time with the gorilla 2 .

Four Or Five Directors?
I have seen Gorilla Theatre™ done with four, five or six players. I believe that six is too many. Keith prefers on four players, and I think I would agree with him. Each player then gets 15 minutes to direct, the interaction between the players can go deeper, and since there are only four faces the audience really gets to know each director. Still, I think five is pretty good. Each player gets 12 minutes to direct, and the audience does gets to know each director (While 15 minutes would be better, it would make the show run too long). With six players, there is not enough time in the night for the directors to direct, and the audience cannot get to know the personality of each. Getting to know the players is one of the compelling things for the audience in this format. I tend to cast five directors because it works well, and one more person gets to play that night. In a big troupe, cycling through people is helpful.

Why Time The Directors?
I have heard stories of directors hogging 30-40 minutes of directing time in shows that have no time limit - leaving little for the other directors. Timing is a great way to make sure everyone gets equal stage time. It is good for the players and it makes the game more equal for the audience. It also forces the direc-

2. Keith said he did this because a group was having trouble but he doesn’t think of it as an intrigue part of the game. A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™ Page 4 7

Gorilla Theatre™

tors not to squander their directing time with long confusing set ups. The best thing about timing the directors is that inevitably, some of them end up with 30 seconds, or less, for scenes at the end of the show. This is cool because the audience gets to see something completely different from the rest of the scenes in the evening. The really short scenes tend to happen at the end of the night, giving a natural climax for the end of the show. Directors can also try to trade time, or buy extra minutes from each other. This is fun mischief. Timing the directors also makes the overall length of the show feel right. A show should last between one hour and thirty minutes and one hour and forty-five minutes, with the second half being shorter than the first. If each director (assuming five of them) gets 12 non-contiguous minutes of directing time, we get a total of 60 minutes. Scoring and forfeits take roughly 2 minutes after each scene. Assuming three scenes a director, the between scene time is about 30 minutes. This adds up to an hour and a half, which leaves 10-15 minutes left for introductions, mucking around and wiggle room.

Score keeping, Timekeeping And The Scoreboard.
It is best if you have a scorekeeper/timekeeper in addition to the commentator, so they can each pay full attention to their important jobs. I suggest you get countdown timers for each player, because subtracting time on paper or in your head can be confusing. The scorekeeper/timekeeper is responsible for updating the scoreboard, not the commentator. The scorekeeper/timekeeper should also keep a list of scenes, who was in them, who directed them, and what score they got for notes after the show. On the scoreboard you should have a column for how much time a players has left and a column for how many bananas they have received, as well as a way to let
Page 4 8 Richard Ross

Gorilla Theatre™

the audience know who is directing each scene. We put the directors names on the board and have a big movable arrow that says “the person responsible for this scene is” on it. When you are directing, the arrow gets moved to point at your name. The important thing about the Gorilla Theatre™ scoreboard is that the audience can see how many bananas each player has, who is responsible for the scene in progress, and how much time each director has left.

The Gorilla
It is great to have a live gorilla at the show, meaning a person in a gorilla suit, because it makes the show more of an event. This is much better than a big stuffed gorilla. Not only does this make the idea of “winning a week of quality time with the gorilla” make more sense, but it adds a useful element to the show. The gorilla is around during the opening, the gorilla is a directable element in the show, and the gorilla can help with sceneography. You can put the gorilla in scenes. I have seen people direct solo scenes with the gorilla. The gorilla should really try to be gorillaish in nature. Be simple, childlike, and be fascinated by small things and remain focused on small things. Wander the stage fascinated by the seams in the floor. Find a piece of lint on a player’s clothes and get focused on it. Be nice and gentle. The gorilla should not upstage the show. The gorilla is there to help the show, but not be the show. This does not mean that as the gorilla, you cannot show initiative. If there is a café scene, you can go in as a person eating at one of the other tables. Take chances and make choices, but always know that your role in the show is to help, not shine. There are some gorilla suits that do not have gorilla hands, and they are not the suit of choice. Get a full gorilla suit. Gorilla suits are hot inside, so make sure to have

A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™

Page 4 9

Gorilla Theatre™

some water and a towel in the wings. Take frequent breaks in the wings, and take the mask off during your breaks. Directors please remember that the gorilla needs breaks. If the gorilla has just been in a scene 3 , maybe you don’t want to use it in the next. Also, when talking to the gorilla, talk to it like you are talking to a child. If you are mean, you might scare the gorilla, and no one likes a gorilla scare-er. Keith thinks gorilla’s are fun, but not essential to the game - do it if you have players who enjoy being the gorilla.

Reigning Champion
The last player introduced at the beginning of the show should be the most recent winner of Gorilla Theatre™, and they should enter with the gorilla. If it has been a long time since the format was played, introduce the last player as the “reigning champion” of Gorilla Theatre™. You can lie about this and make up a reigning champion, the audience will almost never know. Bringing on the reigning champion jump-starts the heat for the show, because the audience wants to see if the champion can be dethroned. The reigning champion should also direct the first scene of the show.

Commentating General
The commentator is generally the first person the audience sees. It is important to be appear good natured and knowledgeable about the format. As commentator you are the logistical leader of the show. You call when the first half is over. The first half should run 45 to 60 minutes. Look for a good scene to end

3. Keith’s comments: “Try not to use the gorilla in scenes - except very occasionally”. Page 5 0 Richard Ross

Gorilla Theatre™

the half on. The second half should run 30- 45 minutes. After the half, do a banana and time count. The show is not about the commentator. The commentator is there to grease the wheels and keep the show moving, to possibly help scenes along, but not to be the star. The directors are the stars of the show, let them shine. The commentator is there to keep the show hot…to keep the show going and to fill “dead time” with commentary. After the introduction, the commentator becomes more like a television sports commentator, giving useful information and reacting to things that happen in the scenes, both good and bad. You know, “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” kind of stuff. You can even give some personal information on the players so the audience gets to know them better. You can talk about who sponsors them. You can even help push scenes along by saying “it looks like we are coming up to the ending” or “Looks like the scene went off track there”. Remember that the show is not about you as the commentator, so everything you say should be to help the show or the scene in progress. Be careful when you commentate while the scene is going on, do it sparingly and make sure you are trying to help. Seeing good commentary is the best way to understand it. The cable show “Junkyard Wars” has great commentary, and is like the commentary we are looking for in Johnstone improv formats.

Prepare Before The Show
Practice what you are going to do. The introduction stuff can be rehearsed. Get rid of the clipboard at the beginning of the show if you are using it as a crutch. Do it from memory, its not that hard. Make it simple. “Welcome to the show, I’m your host Jim Bean. Who has never seen Gorilla Theatre™ before? Who has never seen improv before (welcome them
A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™ Page 5 1

Gorilla Theatre™

- this is a big deal and we want them to come back)? Describe Gorilla Theatre™. Tell them that the show is for them, and how they will score the scenes. Get them to shout “banana” and “forfeit”, and turn it over to the players for the first scene.

A Sample Description/Introduction Of Gorilla Theatre™
Good evening everybody and welcome to Gorilla Theatre™. I am Martha Smith. Tonight five improvisers will take turns directing each other in scenes that will be scored by you, the audience. If you like how the director directed the scene you shout “banana”. Let’s try that. And if you did not like how the director directed the scene you shout “forfeit”. Let’s try that. For a scene to get a banana, the vote must be overwhelmingly banana, so vote what you really think. If the director gets a forfeit, they must pick and perform a task from the Punishment Bucket. Like “Strut across the stage while the audience boos you”. And the player with the most bananas at the end of the night will get to spend a week of quality time with the gorilla. Each player only gets 12 minutes total to direct, so lets bring on the players… It is important to get across the idea that the audience will be scoring the director of the scene, not the scene itself. We want the director scored, that is the game after all, and audiences seem to want to be nice to the people in the scene, thus not telling what they truly thought.

Plugs
Do the plugs, if you must, at the beginning of the second half. “If you like what you see here, we have shows here Thursday through Sunday. We have a special show on Friday to benefit the homeless. Check up front for info after the show”. Keep it short and get right back into the show by reintroducing the directors.

Page 5 2

Richard Ross

Gorilla Theatre™

Ending The Show
Before the last scene, have an idea who is going to win, so you can avoid any dead time figuring it out. If there is going to be a tie, you should be ready with a tiebreaker. While the final score is being figured, Do the thank you to the musician, the lighting improvisers. Announce the winner “John Doe is tonight’s winner, and gets to spend a week of quality time with the gorilla. Thank you, and have a great night”. Then everyone gets off stage.

No Commentator?
It is possible to do the show without a commentat o r 4 . The directors take over the commentator functions and introduce the show, call the half, etc. The Fratelli Bologna Gorilla shows had a parent. The parent, mom or dad, made sure everything was ready for the show, called the intermission, and either led the introductions, or decided which part of the introduction each player would say. The reigning champion would not be onstage for the introduction, but would be introduced at the end of it.

Getting The Score
When the scene is over, a player other than the director should come forward and have the audience vote on the scene. This should go as quickly as possible, because the show is about the improv, while the stuff between the scenes is support for the rest of the show. We don’t want to waste time that could be used for improv, getting the score. So, asking for the score should be really simple; “And on the count of three, does the direction of that scene deserve a banana or a forfeit? 1, 2, 3". Even

4. Keith put the commentator, and the timing of the directors, in when the shows were becoming self indulgent. A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™ Page 5 3

Gorilla Theatre™

when the between the scenes stuff is great, we still don’t want to lose track of what the show is about – the improv. When getting the score it is generally important to not sway the score. Don’t say sarcastically “And now whaddya think of that great scene”. Be kinda neutral. Of course, this is a rule of thumb that can be bent if you are generating “heat” onstage by messing with the score. The decision on how the audience voted should be based on the overwhelming shout of banana or forfeit. Depending on your audience you might want to lean on the forfeit side. There must be forfeits in the show so the audience knows it o.k. not to like what happened on stage. The person getting the score is god. They have the final say on deciding what the audience voted 5 . If the audience disagrees with the decision, use it for heat. The same goes for directors not agreeing on the decision. Use it. But I think changing the score after a decision is not a good idea because it slows the show down and lets ego get involved. Remember it is not really about winning or losing, it is about doing improv in a way that the audience will enjoy. Occasionally it will be difficult to decide what the audience voted, and a reshout will be needed. This is fine, but should not happen more than once or twice a show. Make decisions and get on with it. If you make a bad call, use it to make the heat hotter.

Forfeits
The forfeit is a punishment the audience gives the director if they don’t like the way the director directed the scene. Forfeits are grease to keep the show interesting and to heighten the competition – the audience is more committed to the show when something is on the line. A director performing a forfeit should not blow off the forfeit by
5. Keith’s comments: “Never challenge the scorekeeper unless there is and obvious mistake”. Page 5 4 Richard Ross

Gorilla Theatre™

saying something like “I like onions” for the forfeit “eat a raw onion”. The forfeit should be, or at least look like, a punishment. If you blow it off, you take away its power. We keep the forfeits in a “Pail of Punishment” 6 , and when the score is being voted on, a player holds the pail and stands by the player getting the score. You can keep the punishments in whatever you like; the important think is to have them available so no time is wasted. Players should never do a forfeit they are uncomfortable with. When you have to pick a forfeit, have one in mind that you can do if you don’t like the one you pick. Pretend it is written on the slip of paper. The audience will never know.

Some Good Forfeits
A good forfeit should be short and slightly painful for the director. I mean, it is a punishment for not making the audience happy. Good forfeits are also nice because they are very different from anything else people see in improv shows. Examples of good forfeits: • Go out on the street (or lean out of the window) and shout your apology for that lousy scene to the passers by. • Phone your mother onstage and tell her how bad a director you are. • Have the first row of the audience stand up and say “I am SO disappointed in you”. • Write “failure” on your forehead. • Give an audience member their money back (out of your own pocket). • Apologize to every member of the audience as they leave the theatre at the end of the show. • Wash your mouth out with soap. • Do an athletic feat. • Stride arrogantly around the stage while the audience heckle and boo you.
6. A Fratelli Bologna term A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™ Page 5 5

Gorilla Theatre™

• Watch the other directors imitate your directing style. • Run out to the corner store and buy doughnuts for the front row. • Apologize to the audience sincerely for your existence. • Sit quietly for 30 seconds while the audience boos you. • Tell the audience what you did wrong in your last relationship.

Bad Forfeits
Punishments that are scenes take up time. According to Keith, this is a bad thing because the game is about the competition between the directors and the scenes the directors direct, not about how well the directors perform punishments. The punishment should be quick so we can get on with the game. In Gorilla Theatre™, the audience wants to see the director punished for not pleasing them and although making them do scenes like the ones below may be funny, they actually reward by giving the director more stage time. After all, everyone knows the players are onstage because they want stage time. Also, we want the punishments to be different from everything else in the show. This is one of the things that makes the format strong. Scene punishments are just more scenes. An additional problem with forfeits, like the ones listed below, is that the player who performs them may not pull them off. The scene may be bad and then the audience is punished for giving a forfeit, which is opposite of what you want in Gorilla Theatre™ - you want the audience to be rewarded with joy for giving forfeits. These also have the potential to go long, and however entertaining they may be, they are not the focus of the show.

Page 5 6

Richard Ross

Gorilla Theatre™

Some examples of bad forfeits:
• Sing a short song of repentance • Make up a Limerick on your failure as a director • Do a short performance art piece revisiting the disastrous moments of your scene • Do a scene in reverse • Do a four character scene in which you play all the parts • Make up a Limerick using an audience member’s name • Recite a monologue about a topic the audience suggests • Sing a TV theme song • Perform a scene of a historical figure if he were a celebrity (Example: Clint Eastwood as George Washington) • Mime an obscure task and keep doing it until the audience can guess what you're miming • Do a scene at high speed • Do a scene in slow motion • Do a scene using the wrong emotion • Perform a popular scene from a movie as a Muppet

Throwing In The Towel
If a scene you are directing is failing, and you can’t figure out how to fix it, or simply don’t like how it is turning out, stop it. I have only seen this happen once. Kurt Bodden lost the thread of the scene, turned to the audience and said something like “I am going to stop this here because I can’t fix it, and I would rather save the time to direct something else”. Of course, the scene then has to be voted on. Kurt’s case was great, because the audience appreciated him being honest, but then they loved giving him the forfeit since he didn’t direct the scene well.

A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™

Page 5 7

Gorilla Theatre™

Be Hungry To Direct
There should always be someone ready to direct the next scene. This keeps dead time down, and if three people are clamoring to be the next director, the audience gets the feeling that everyone wants to be on stage. It makes them feel like this show is fun. Also, competition to be the next director can be used for heat. At BATS we have an movable arrow that says “The Players Responsible For This Scene Is” that the players move to their name while the score is being decided.

Directing Gorilla Theatre™
The point of Gorilla Theatre™ is for the directors to get stuff they want to see on stage on stage. You need to care about your scenes. If you, as a director, don’t care about the scene you are directing, why should the audience care? And if the scene tanks, at least the audience gets the pleasure of watching you try to get what you want. Gorilla is the format where you are in total control, don’t waste it by not bothering to think about what you want onstage 7 .

Fight For What You Want
The difference between Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™ is that in Gorilla you are trying to get what you want on the stage. Fight for it. If a player in not doing what you want, replace them with someone else. Still not getting what you want, go in yourself. I saw Patti Styles keep pounding away at a scene she was directing for her entire 12 minutes. She just couldn’t get the actors to do what she wanted. The audience got to see her struggle, and the loved it. They love to watch you fight for what you want.

7. Keith’s comments: “Fight for what you want. Fight, and failing is honourable”. Page 5 8 Richard Ross

Gorilla Theatre™

Make It Harder To Get What You Want
In Gorilla Theatre™, the audience loves to see you fight for what you want. You can set yourself up for a directing struggle by being clear about what you are trying for in a scene. Being specific is the key.Saying “I want a love scene” is pretty vague and pretty easy to accomplish. Saying “I want a love scene between a teacher and a student” is better, but also pretty easy to accomplish. Saying “I want a love scene between a teacher and a student that makes the audience cry” is pretty good and not so easy to accomplish. It seems like it is better in Gorilla Theatre™ to not direct just around just the “story points” 8 , but also on the reaction you are looking for from the audience. This certainly makes you have to fight harder to get what you want from the scene. Some examples: • I want to see a horror scene about children that makes the audience terrified. • I want to see a scene between a waiter and a customer that makes the audience laugh hysterically. • I want to see a first date scene that makes the audience fondly remember their first love. • I want to see a scene on an airplane that makes the audience never want to have children. • I want a scene in Hawaii that makes the audience want to go on vacation. • I want to see an office scene that makes the audience want to work harder at their jobs. • I want to see a scene about farming that makes the audience become vegetarians. • I want a scene about a lost puppy with pathos that makes the audience go “awww”. • I want a scene so realistic that the audience sees the set.
8. I cannot thank Sean Hill enough for helping me clarify my thoughts on this aspect of directing. A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™ Page 5 9

Gorilla Theatre™

• I want an ER story where the audience cares if the person on the operating table dies or lives. There seems to be another class of scenes that are challenging to pull off. These have something to do with extravaganza, or specificity of style: • I want a huge musical production with all the bells and whistles. • I want a super slick science fiction scene with tons of special effects.

Themes
Having a theme for the evening can be nice because it gives the audience a way to recognize you as different from the other players, and to know what to expect from you when you get up to direct. William Hall came up with a great method to generate themes concisely. The formula goes “I believe…I pledge”. Examples: • I believe in true emotion and I pledge that all of my scenes tonight will contain true emotion. • I believe in Satan and I pledge to show you his glory tonight. • I believe in the goodness of marriage and in my scenes I pledge to show you how wonderful marriage is. • I believe improvisers don't take enough risks, and I pledge that tonight I will push the improvisers into scary, risky places. • I believe that all good stories come from TV Guide, so tonight all my scenes will be based on descriptions of movies airing on TV last week 9 . • I believe in narrative and I pledge all my scenes will tell stories.

9. Keith’s comments: “Err...mmm...a bit weird”. Page 6 0 Richard Ross

Gorilla Theatre™

Personas
When I first saw Fratelli Bologna perform Gorilla Theatre™, some if the directors had a persona they played for the evening based on a theme. John X Heart was the “Artist formerly known as the Prince of Darkness” and would do scenes about the dark underbelly of humanity. When he came onstage to direct, the lights went red, dimmed and the music got scary. Richard Dupell was the “librarian” and would do scenes based on things from a cart of books he would bring onstage. The point was that each of the directors had a different persona so the audience could tell them apart easily and could also judge if they fulfilled the promise the persona made in setting up the scenes. The theme, or persona, should be in support of the show, not at the expense of the show. I have seen people go too far with a persona, and make it more interesting than the scenes they were directing. They would take up over half of their directing time with shtick before they even set up their scene. Yes, it was entertaining, but I feel that the goal of the format is to direct scenes you care about, not to be a stage for a funny sketch show character.

Directing Style
There are many different ways to give your directions. The important part of giving directions in Gorilla™, is to be invested in the scene. Some examples: • Some people sit in a chair like they are directing a play. • Some people stand in one of the downstage corners of the stage. • I tend to crouch in the moat by the lip of the stage. • Dave Dennison stands on stage very close to the characters.
A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™ Page 6 1

Gorilla Theatre™

• William Hall has been known to go to the back of the audience and direct from there (and to ask what the audience they think should happen next).

Page 6 2

Richard Ross

Conclusion

Conclusion

The learning process is ongoing, especially in Improv. Once you think you have it all figured out, something happens that makes you see your work in a whole different way. It is great to always “know” how improv works, and when you get new information or experience, integrate that into what you already believe. Every time I direct or am directed in a show I learn. I come away from the show with something to work on for myself, and a better understanding of how to work with and communicate with my fellow players. We all continue to figure out new things every time we take the stage, take a class, write notes, or have discussions with other improvisers late into the night. It is this constant learning that keeps us involved. It also keeps improv fresh, exciting and worth all the countless hours we put into it.

A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™

Page 6 3

Richard Ross

Page 6 4

Appendix A: Notes

Appendix A: Notes
I believe notes are critical to any theatre. If you don’t talk about what happened onstage, how can you possibly make it better? Notes are also a necessary pressure release valve. If you avoid telling a person that they did something you did not like onstage, when you finally do tell them it will be fraught with your pent up frustration. If you tell each other stuff in notes, you will develop a better working relationship and avoid bad feelings. Keith suggested we do notes that aim to be done in 10 minutes, with a maximum of length of 15 minutes. Go through the list the scorekeeper made of the scenes in the show, and only give a note on something you really feel needs to be said. • The goal is not to discuss anything, not to ask any questions, just to say what you think, and to get out of the theatre as soon a possible. • Don’t justify yourself - make statements about what you thought happened. • Discussion is great in a workshop situation, but not in notes. • Discussion is not always bad, but you want the notes to get finished so everyone can go home. • Discussion will go on forever, but all you really want to do is have your point heard. You don’t really need to discuss why you did not want someone to come into a scene; you just want them to know that that is how you felt. • Notes go to discussion very easily, so everyone should be looking to spot discussion and stop it before it gets out of hand.

A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™

Page 6 5

Richard Ross

Page 6 6

Appendix B: Keith Keith Keith

Appendix B: Keith Keith Keith
A lot of people seem to not understand why referring to Keith is important or why we should give what he has to say about his formats some weight. This perplexes me. Others want to change Keith’s formats before they have really given them a chance to be played the way Keith conceived them. This also perplexes me. I think changing any format should be like remodeling a house. When you remodel a house, you need to understand why things are the way they are. You don’t want to remove a load-bearing wall by accident. If you do, the whole structure could fall down, crushing you into a thin paste. So, before you remodel, you look at the blueprints, the electrical and plumbing schematics and try to get a feel for how the house works. Keith built these houses. We need to take the time to try to understand from him why things are the way they are, so our shows don’t collapse around us. I am not saying that Keith is infallible, and neither is he. He has been known to change his mind as he watches his ideas in practice. So should we all. And while he is willing to share his opinions with us about the formats he created, we should listen.

A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™

Page 6 7

Richard Ross

Page 6 8

Appendix C: A Conversation With Keith

Appendix C: A Conversation With Keith
On August 9, 2001, Rebecca Stockley and Richard Ross had the following conversation with Keith Johnstone. RS: What is one of the things that you do when you direct micetro. KJ: I try to reveal what’s latent in the scene. RS: What is the purpose you are fulfilling when you are in the chair as a micetro director? KJ: To make things happen, first. I would also like the things that happen have some relevance to something, other than just yuck, yuck. RS: What is the purpose of having two directors in Micetro? KJ: To take the stress off one director. And to share the blame, which is partly the same thing. My experience in Micetro, is that usually its fine with one director, but the stress level goes up, and you cant say help help. Also, the two directors should both be directing the scenes. The very first Micetro was with me alone in Utrecht. The second few were with me and probably Dennis I think, where the directors were competing. So a director won, and we soon thought that was pretty stupid. Because, you are desperately trying to get good work. So for Dennis and me, he'll set up a scene, and I'll say “do you have something”, and he'll say something to me. So one director has something he wants and you add something to it that is going to work. And you hope the other director trusts you enough to say yes to your idea. And I trust Dennis in Calgary and he trusts me. And another really important this
A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™ Page 6 9

Appendix C: A Conversation With Keith

is that the directors could be really enjoying it. Giggling together and having a good time. So that lowers the stress. RS: Is there anything directors should avoid, when setting up improv scenes? KJ: Two questions there. You meant the actual setting up the scene? RR: Yeah. KJ: Avoid doing what we just saw. When you start you want to get the first round over quickly, so you want lots of group scenes. Gradually you move into two person scenes which is what theatre is really about. RS: I wonder if you might have the secret of directing for us? For BATS, for our community? KJ: To make people laugh, is a very second rate, inferior, cheap aim. If that’s all you want, I think you should do something else. I think if you are benevolent, towards the audience, you want to give them good things, you wanna sell good stuff. You don't want to palm them off with second rate products and lots of hype. So I think if you're benevolent in your intention, you can't just repeat what the TV does, because the TV has no benevolence. It justs wants to sell you products. And is actually pretty evil. Then you have to decide what benevolent is. Is it benevolent to just waste their time like some kind of valium, so they get two hours closer to death without much pain? Or would you like to do more? So I think the idea of benevolence to them, and trying to give them something worthwhile, is very important. Its comic mostly, because its a public improvisation form and comedy goes well. But most people set an improvisation where nothing serious can possibly happen, cause the whole thing is supposed to be stupid, and that's established at the beginning... Anything Page 7 0

Appendix C: A Conversation With Keith

that moves the work towards organized stupidity, like education for example, in our schools - which is certainly organized stupidity - is bad. The idea that the laugh at you because you're stupid is very valuable for very short little ten minute, no five minute, bursts. But in general, you should try to wean people away from the idea that being stupid is worthwhile if they laugh. And you really want to make comment. Its no good making a wonderful sword if you don't cut anything with it. RS: Do you see value in our putting together handbooks like this one? KJ: Yes. There is a problem though, which I don't know how to solve. Somebody once produced a book of my games. He watched ten or twelve shows and wrote the games down. But they weren't games. They were things I told the actors to do. If you tell somebody its a good idea to go on the stage and take somebody off and replace them. So you tell them that's a good idea, but then they do it four times a night. And actually we do it in every 8 or 9 shows when we need to do it. But if you thinking funny, you think the audience like that, you'll do it. Or in Theatresports™, the judges will give stupid scores to annoy the audience. But the judges job is to be fair. It only works if you are honest from your gut feeling. If the person on the stage is trying to be comical, or make himself look good, or herself look good, or make them think what a wonderful mind they are and shit like that its a waste of time. Everything you say there [in this book] may be dead right on occasion. People are gonna seize on certain things and they'll say “that’s what we do in Micetro™”. I did five days in the mountains, this is a long interview, on the Life Game™, and managed not to do a complete Life Game™ but to show bits of it. So they couldn't take the Life Game™ that they saw and “fix” it. I got five people saying
A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™ Page 7 1

Appendix C: A Conversation With Keith

they would have liked to see a whole Life Game™, as if I didn't know that. I did the Life Game™ in London, and they put it on Broadway and they took it round. I did a really good one which “fixed” the form for them, and went back the next day for a free day hoping we could do a bad one. We did a bad one. They still got “fixed” on the good one. People take the thing that is easiest and that works 'cause they think somebody knows how to do it somewhere else instead of having basic principles like honor the micetro, which sort of tells you how to do the ending. It also tells you what the five dollar bill is for. Its not a joke. Its so you applaud him, and you get to applaud him again when the people are there.

Page 7 2

Appendix D: Scene Lists

Appendix D: Scene lists
Here are some of my scene lists. Use them as a starting point. I strongly suggest you make up, and write up, your own lists. It will be more interesting for you and the audience if you use stuff that comes from your head.

2 Person Scenes
Confessional Priest/person 2 people in a Dr. waiting room Boss and new employee in Elevator Executive/Fire someone in office 2 Parents waiting it the living room for child to come home God and the Devil at High Tea 2 strangers on an airplane 2 lab rats in a cage Dad and Daughter before the wedding Guard giving death row inmate last meal Man and wife in bed after great sex Teacher and student in class after school 2 hunters at their campsite 2 crooks planning robbery Master and servant in the park Driver and hitchhiker in car Delivering meals to an old person On a porch at the end of a first date 2 soldiers in a foxhole 2 old men on a pier fishing 2 kids playing hopscotch A job interview Film Noir: hiring the detective Question a prisoner Lunch with mom Parent child drug/sex talk Robot (creature) and its creator At a fortune teller 2 people on a lifeboat taxi driver and passenger Hooker and john after sex Teenager with best friends parent A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™ Page 7 3

Appendix D: Scene Lists

3 Person Scenes
3 astronauts in a space ship 3 missionaries come to your door Advertising meeting 3 sisters at weekly lunch 2 explorers and native guide in jungle 2 native guides with explorer in jungle 3 roommates Tell 2 kids about upcoming divorce Parents tell child about divorce Couple seeing shrink Interview the last two candidates at the same time

Directions
Scene Two Recognize her Faint Weep Jump her and apologize Come together not apart Volume Be changed Show your scars Be on a quest Issue dares Kill something Isn’t it human nature? Dad told me not to have emotions Go without me Don’t use words Sing Be changed Be affected What I was about to say You have 15 seconds to go crazy Make an emotional noise Leave room I have three questions and I always forget them You can’t get out Quote Scripture Make a generalization Page 7 4 Richard Ross

Appendix D: Scene Lists Yes master Slow motion Speak with reverb Take out your truth sprinkles

Simple Platforms
1984 After nuke war Airport At a lynching At a protest At the dinner table Backyard gardening Bank line Boot camp Confessional Confront boss sex harassment Demon worshiper DMV line Dr. Office Execution FBI Fortune teller From the future Gang rumble Genie Grave yard, specific grave Greek gods meeting to discuss... Guru Health spa Heaven before you were born Imaginary spouse In a picket line In an elevator In bed In the bus In the Forrest Joining a cult/get friend to join Kid trying to get out of school Lawyers office Meeting your hero Mime convention A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™ Page 7 5

Appendix D: Scene Lists On a plane Ouija board Photo shoot Post office line Prison yard PTA meeting Reading Seance Sneaking into room at night Sibling roommate supposed to clean up Solders last conversation Sunday school Two crabs at the bottom of the ocean Taxi Under the X-mas tree Wash dishes Wedding Witch conjuring You answered a personal ad You decide to break you vow of silence 2 people in the dark one is a thief

Relationships
A c tor /a u d ie n c e me mbe r Alien/human Baby sitter/kid Best friends Boss/employee Bully/wimp Child/monster under bed Censors Dating Devil/chump Dr./patient Driver hitchhiker Enemies Executioner/victim God/angel God/believer God/devil God/non-believer Grandparent Page 7 6 Richard Ross

Appendix D: Scene Lists Hooker/john Judge (corrupt)/lawyer Lovers Mail carrier/dog owner Master/servant Meter maid/violator Parents Police man/violator Pool hustler/chump Postal clerk/package recipient Rock star/groupie Roommates Salesman Satan/devil Shrink patient Siblings Super hero/villain Spouse Teacher/student Wizard/apprentice Worker/client X-lovers 2 rodents

Platform Specific Tilts
Actor who can't act Ask for a call girl Brother is scab Call girl is your sister Dig a grave Discover evidence of dead people Don' t open that door... Escaped mental patient poses as dr. Feed the birds and then kill them Find a wallet Find the water of life Gifted student can’t take scholarship Go or the monsters under the bed will get you He's a compulsive liar He's dead, I killed him He's not your real father I can control the weather A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™ Page 7 7

Appendix D: Scene Lists I come from another dimension I committed all the crimes I forgot to remove a hypno suggestion I have disease x I know everything about you I know you've been cheating on me I married you for the money I never went to med school I was married before I'll do anything to get an a I'm gay I'm gonna be an artist I'm leaving the family biz I'm your father I'm your homeless person I've been offered money to kill you I’m a vampire I’m really an expert at x It's your own grave It’s not his baby Janitor owns building Losing weight is easy; I’ll cut off your leg Rich man is broke Shrink is evil, masochist Son, can you get me drugs? Stud is really a virgin Terminal illness They said you are a witch This isn’t veal- its human flesh Wife finally stands up to husband X who can't x You go blind You don’t know you’re a Chimp do you? You're a witch You're adopted You're in the wrong afterlife You're my parent You’re a fake x

Page 7 8

Richard Ross

Appendix D: Scene Lists

Games (that you can use a directions in a scene already in progress)
Accent switch Actor switch Big story in one voice Chain murder Chorus of discontent Dubbing Expert panel Expert game Five things Genre house Gibberish translator Growing shrinking machine Half-life Half Space Innersong Laugh and go Just a minute Moving bodies New choice No fuck off leave me alone Scene in gibberish Secret endowment Sideways scene Slo mo commentary Spelling dialogue Small voice Scene in one voice Speaking in order Spelling Status transfer Tag team monologue Yes that’s right sound good

A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™

Page 7 9

Appendix D: Scene Lists

Genres
Action Alien abduction Bible story Cave man Comedy Cooking show Documentary Drama Egypt Film noir Horror Infomercial Kids show Mamet Masterpiece theatre Musical Mystery Opera Orwellian drama Roman Romance Science fiction Shakespeare Sit-com Soap Thriller Western WW2

Mantras
I love you I hate you I have comfortable pants I like to be quiet I am sexy Every one wants me I am tall Like me I’m smart

Page 8 0

Richard Ross

Appendix D: Scene Lists

Open Tilts (tilts that will work in any platform)
There is one thing Don’t open that door God sent me to tell you There is one thing... God sent me to tell you I have a message from god I have something to tell you... I'm really a... It's time I told you about the family curse I'm a visitor from the future/past I slept with you but you don’t know it I work miracles I've been reading this book about hypnosis... Sorry that I… I have an idea I read your diary Don't you recognize me? I have this power, I snap my finger and... Don't open that door Don’t you recognize me? I lied Dig a grave I can move things with my mind

Mechanical Endowments (things that the improviser does without thinking)
Can’t sit Can’t speak Change every 5th word Change your mind right before you speak Constantly play with your hair Don't move your head Have only one arm Limp Lisp Mumble Mumble Must kneel Open eyes wide Pace A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™ Page 8 1

Appendix D: Scene Lists Pause before speaking Repeat the last word of every sentence Say now before every sentence Scratch Smile all the time Speak only when touching Speak only with eye contact Speak with a lisp Status Stutter Talk with your hands Touch your face a lot Touch face

Solo Scenes
Best mans toast Best mans Toast Eulogy Mask interview Object monologue Political speech Prep the troops Pulling the plug Pitch us on your product Scene where you play all the characters Date the audience Sermon Closing arguments Sing a song Solitary confinement

Character Types
Nerd Professor Super hero Jazz man Coffee addict Bully Gang member Arrogant Stripper Page 8 2 Richard Ross

Appendix D: Scene Lists Solider Vietnam vet Bitch Cowboy Authority figure Cop Drill Sergeant Veterinarian Stock broker Psychic Short order cook Waitress Chef Iron chef Sumo wrestler Fisherman Farmer Maid Butler Washer woman Hit man Security guard Bank teller Postal carrier Mafia don Assassin Ninja Terrorist Astronaut Nebbish Religious guy

Objectives
Fall in love Revenge To be liked Control Pleasure Pain Money Ego Truth A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™ Page 8 3

Appendix D: Scene Lists

Titles
The The The The The The courting of… death of… birth of… marriage of… murder of… resurrection of…

Ways To End Scenes
Find an ending 30 seconds left Repeat the last line with confidence. Let whatever happened sink in. Find a way to leave. Hug Touch her/him Kiss Weep

Page 8 4

Richard Ross

R i c h a r d R o s s is a BATS company member and Coach. He is a founding member of “Start Trekkin’ – an improvised parody of the Star Trek universe” and has performed with Fratelli Bologna and True Fiction Magazine. He attended the BATS summer school where Keith first talked about the “new game” that would soon become Micetro™, and produced and performed in the first Micetro™ show in the United States. When not improvising, Richard is a corporate whore, writing, performing and producing weird trade show presentations for Comedy Industries. He has a reef aquarium, a bunch of reptiles, a hairless dog, hairless cat and a normal dog. He also blows glass. Really 1 .

If you think of something I have left out about either of these formats, or directing and mischief in general, let me know. I would love to know your thoughts, and maybe use them in future editions. If I use your idea not only will I give you credit, but I will send you a special prize 2 .

1. Check out the glass at www.atomicglass.com 2. Probably a copy of the new edition A Practical Guide To Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™ Page 8 5

Bay Area Theatresports™ Center for Improvisational Theatre, Building B, Third Floor Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA 94123 Phone: 415-474-8935 Fax: 415-474-9385 E-mail: info@improv.org www.improv.org

Page 8 6

Richard Ross

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful