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Back to Workshop Previews | "Upstage Vs. Downstage" (6:14) | "Body Positions" & "Crosses, Turns" (35:39) | Stage Movement: Description | Stage Movement: Registration
Examples: Richard Jeni | Richard Pryor

Jim Richardson's Stand-Up Comedy Workshops course description for:

Professional Stage Movement: setting a bit
Lessons 26-29 of 35 Lessons:
Dates and times to be arranged, 8-12 hours
Page 1 of 2



Alfred Hitchcock in a gag publicity shot
For one of his many directorial masterpieces
Which were very deliberately staged for intended effects:
"The Birds" (1963)

Choreographing the Joke for your
Serious Speech and/or Stand-Up Comedy Act:
Can be taught live, over the Internet through webcams
Or live, in-person at your location.
Includes 20-page Workbook.
Pre-requisites: none
30% Web Discount
This 8-12 hour training includes Package of Materials:
1) Hand-outs which outline basic concepts
2) Recommended movies classics which provide good examples of proper Stage Mechanics
          Package is sent out same day you order.


Exercise: write down as many movement techniques as you can see Hitchcock directing in the above photo.
•Then, read the course outline on this page, and watch the two video clips.
Hint: the answer might be on the video clips.
So, it only counts if you write down what you see before watching the video, right?

The two videos at 6:14 + 35:39 = a 42-minute video preview which cover less than the first hour of this 8-12 hour Workshop.

After you watch both videos, read what you had written down beforehand:
•What additional techniques do you now see?
Note:
This is just a still image in an implied sequence of movements.
What might Hitch's or the bird's or the cigar's
•previous and next movements be?

Tip: you can repeat this exercise with any photo, painting, sculpture, etc.
Great for getting movement ideas to use in your stand-up comedy act or business keynote speech.

After you have both read this Page 1 Course Description and watched both video clips,
then go on to Page 2 Bonus: extra page of photos, descriptions of movement techniques, and exercises.



Course Outline
Parallels Between Speakers and Comics
  • Both the serious and funny parts of your speech need to
    be tightly blocked, just like a top-flight comedy routine, play, movie or TV show.
  • Once you set all your lines for a particular bit, you must also set all that bit's movements.
How to take advantage of stage conventions to control audience emotions

Posture that reveals character:
Usually a neutral figure is used for your narrative/central/main character vs. unique postures that might be employed to bring out your eccentric minor characters behaviors.
Think of the mask worn by most conservative ventriloquists vs. the masks worn by their oddball dummy characters who can say almost anything, and get away with it.
But sometimes your lead character is also eccentric.
Depends on the main storyline, whether stated or implied.

Marlon Brando's posture is angled in this photo as his character of the motorcycle gang leader is hardly neutral, Anita Ekburg assumes a star pose, Sugar Ray Leonard is hunched in anticipation of the next round.
However, Angelo Dundee and Marcello Mastroianni are in neutral figure, underscoring their conservative fight coach and sophisticated journalist characters:



8 Body Positions:
Technical and psychological reasons for choosing specific body positions will be explored at length in the video clips:





9 stage areas & 3 planes of the stage:
The 9 stage areas & 3 planes of the stage:
Each plane has three areas. Upstage: UR, UC, UL; Center: R, C, L; Downstage DR, DC, DL.
Each plane has relative strength. Upstage plane: weak, center stage plane: neutral & downstage plane: strong.
Each of the 9 areas has an emotional connotation which is exploitated by both stage, film and TV directors.
You can use these same area values to increase the audience's response to your jokes
by lengthening their laughter and applause:



Crosses and turns:
Dramatic turn (pictured below) vs. natural turn (not pictured here but covered during the Workshop in a later Lesson).
•How to move across the stage without changing your character
:



What you will learn well beyond today's preview of my Professional Stage Movement Workshop:
Using your "found" performance environment to sell your character, ideas and jokes
  • Re-arranging furniture, standing, sitting, handling props, cuing yourself
  • Exercises: breaking down simple acting problems like eating, falling asleep, reading, etc., to consciously reveal your character and get extra laughs
Every movement you make creates a picture
  • Horizontal vs. vertical vs. diagonal movement, moving with and against the reading vector

Building to an emotional effect so you get really big laughs

  • Number of movements per laugh
  • Finding physical as well as vocal levels
  • The different effects inherent in straight vs. curved lines, short vs. long crosses, short vs. long steps, broken vs. completed crosses
  • Using these effects to re-enforce or undercut each other in order to get a guaranteed Big Laugh!
Strong vs. weak characters are first revealed through movement
  • Master vs. Servant, Auto Mechanic vs. Customer, Bank Officer vs. Loan Applicant, Guard vs. Prisoner, Doctor vs. Patient, Teacher vs. Student, Employer vs. Employee, etc.
Game plan for getting your act together:
  • Example Story to illustrate Mood Value of Stage Areas
    • Compared to scenes from famous movies we will watch together so I can point out tips and tricks
    • Then, you will be able to logically determine how the character in the Example Story should move to create the desired effect
  • Hints on how to become a "Nevada Smith" (see the 1966 movie) kinda speaker or comic
  • How to get a laugh before you say anything
Rehearsal discipline
  • Use the Stage Mechanics Check List to verify that you are consciously employing these principles
  • Use your eyes for effect: make the audience look where you want, feel what you feel, etc.
  • Clarity: how to make sure everyone "gets it" by "telegraphing" when they are to laugh
  • Why real props work better than pantomime
  • Why you cannot succeed if you start work on your Stage Mechanics the night before your first live performance:
    you will get mentally exhausted before you can "set" the movements
  • Leave introductions out:
    what you are doing should be clear even to a deaf person or to someone who does not speak English
  • When/how to memorize your movements vs. when/how to memorize your spoken jokes
Advanced topic: Movements expressing style
  • Combining types of gesture:
    angular, curved, abrupt, flowing
  • General types of movement:
    X movement vs. Y movement, when to do one or the other . . . and when to do combinations of both
  • Matching movement style to background music, period mood pieces, etc.
  • How to teach or be taught a complex movement pattern very fast
  • Archetypal gestures:
    getting the animal out so more people identify with your physical actions
  • What everyone in the audience knows about sex and violence and why they can judge you by your performance:
    was it real or fake?

Independent approach to blocking out your speech or comedy act

  • Blocking Notation System which make it clear when and why you are to perform a given movement
    before, during or after your spoken line
  • Shorthand for writing down all Stage Mechanics principles you are using on your speech/comedy script
    so you can refer to them during rehearsal
    and even years later when you want to bring back an old routine
Bibliography

Additional Sources



Appointments

Why "Stage Mechanics" training can be either private or semi-private:

  • Private, 8 hours:
    I will be guiding you through several drills
    which are followed-up by my directing you to successful completion of specific exercises.
    Eight hours of this work can be done one-on-one since only one character is on stage at a time.
  • Semi-private, 12 or more hours, depending number enrolled, from 2-to-20:
    However there are a few more exercises which require at least two characters
    and the final exercises require at least four characters.
    Participants benefit from watching fellow attendees attempt all the exercises.
    Therefore, to calculate hours needed,
    I must to know the total number of participants
    which can comfortably range from one to twenty attendees.
    The proportional rate for each attendee
    can then be determined according to my appointment fees.
Appointment fees:

Consulting fee: $200/hour
All fees are to be paid:
1) in United States Dollars
2) at least two weeks in advance of the training date(s).
One-on-one: $200/hour
More than one person attending = an additional $100/hour per additional person; i.e., two people would be $300/hour, three people $400/hour, four people $500/hour, etc.
Note: on the Registration form, I have used the four persons semi-private, 12-hour training as an example of how I calculate time needed and fees per person.

Pre-requisites: none,
Plus: 30% Web Discount:

When you go to the Stage Movement: Registration form, be certain to take advantage of the 30% Web Discount Price!


One-on-one 8-hour package at $200/hour = $1,600 x . 7 = 30% web discount price of $1,120, plus Shipping course materials USPS Priority Mail at $5.60 (includes tax for California Residents): $1,125.60

Four (4) students, semi-private 12-hour package at $500/hour = $6,000 x . 7 = 30% web discount price of $4,200/4 = $1,050 each, plus Shipping course materials USPS Priority Mail at $5.60 (includes tax for California Residents): $1,055.60 each.

Bonus: extra page of photos

After you have read this web page and watched both video clips,
please go to the next page where I break down more photos in greater detail:
"Professional Stage Movement: setting a bit" continued.
Page last updated: Tuesday, February 18, 2014, 10:46 am PST.
Copyright © 1997-2014


Home | Video | Coaching & Co-Writing | Order | About | Techniques | Register | FAQ | Contact
Studying Comics | Comedy Roots | Comeback? | Defense | Character mask | Robin | Censorship
Writer's block | Camcorder Coaching | Memorizing | Remembering | Setting a bit
Business | Business Cards | Your Web Site | Open Mics | Evil "Bringer Shows" | Audition | MC tips
Promo Packet | Contact media | Interviews | How to get BIG-$ Gig$ | Agents vs. Managers
Newsletter | Goodies | Auditioning: TV & Movie parts | Site Map: more tips

Back to Workshop Previews | "Upstage Vs. Downstage" (6:14) | "Body Positions" & "Crosses, Turns" (35:39) | Stage Movement: Description | Stage Movement: Registration
Examples: Richard Jeni | Richard Pryor