Tuesday, December 4, 2007

'Just fire me'

Last night was the final meeting of Franny's weekly acting class at Seattle Children's Theatre, and the last half-hour was open for parents to come check out what the kids have been learning. It wasn't really a performance, more like a demonstration of the theater games they've been working on -- mostly basic improvisation exercises designed to teach observation and movement onstage.

The class was all girls, eight or nine of them, all about Franny's middle-school age. The parents all seemed into it and supportive, although some weren't exactly theater savants.

Trying to jump-start one improv, the teacher, Andy, asked the audience to suggest a verb.

"Two!" shouted one woman.

"OK," Andy said. "I'm thinking more of an action verb. Anything else ...?" I heard the woman mutter to her husband: "Shoot, that's not even a verb, is it?"

Later, when Andy asked for an object, the husband tossed him his hat. Thank you, Andy said, but I really just need a suggestion of an object.

So in one of the improv games -- Mean Boss, I think it was called -- Franny was asked to step outside the room while the rest of the class agreed on the setup. They were workers in a factory, assembling basketballs, and one girl was designated the boss who would question Franny when she came in about why she was late for work. Fran's job was to pick up clues from the other factory workers, standing behind the boss, who wordlessly were trying to help her offer the agreed-upon nonsensical excuse: She was late because she had to climb a tree to rescue a cat who had gotten stuck chasing a vacuum cleaner (goofy, I know).

"Why are you late," the boss demanded.

Franny, looking over the other girl's shoulder, quickly picked up that she was late because she had climbed a tree for her cat. But with time running out she couldn't guess the bit about the vacuum, and the mean boss (in a persuasive performance, I thought) was getting impatient with Frank's fumbled excuses.

"What? Tell me why you were late!"

"Fifteen seconds," said Andy, the teacher.

Franny looked at him and then back at the mean-boss girl.

"Oh, heck," she said, "I don't know why I'm late. Just fire me."

Pretty good. The place cracked up. Franny ate it up, I could tell. The next semester of classes starts after the new year. I know she's looking forward to continuing.


Janice said...

a natural!

freda said...

I love it. Way to go Frannie. Michelle was in theater when she was in school too, so was I if you want to go back that far. It is such fun. Of course back when I did it there was no improv, just acting.

Rita said...

Touche' Franny!!! That's what improv is all about.

I'd say Promote Franny and Fire those helpful parents.

The Real Michelle said...

That's awesome!!

the correctly spelled Michele said...

Gina and Franny are both going to be stars some day, I'm convinced. Funny post.