At Session 4 we had Sam back and needed to do some catchup with her. Sam is the 17-year-old biological daughter to Diane. Between Session 3 and 4 it became pretty clear that their relationship drives the story, Diane being the centre of that relationship and Kate, Diane’s 24-year-old stepdaughter being her main source of support. This set up a family ‘love triangle’ which is interesting because it takes a close up look at what I’ve been calling ‘big love’ – which is the fallout when you love one person so much that it nudges out another person you should be caring about. In this case, Kate is nudging out Sam and not aware of it so when things go bad, Kate is shocked by how her care and support for Diane played a big part in harming Sam.
During Session 4, I set up three improvs between Sam and her mom, Diane. All of them focused on Sam giving Diane a hard time, not taking no for an answer and generally being a pain. This was to get them both used to this sort of interaction between them – there are others of course, but we needed them to swim around in the difficult emotional pond together. My direction at the beginning was pretty simple. I said that Sam was like the shark in Jaws: always hungry and never stops coming back – relentless.
It was very interesting to see how Sam played it. In my mind was the cliche of her yelling and screaming like a brat. But she played it calm, yet relentless, and it was so much more interesting because it didn’t push Diane to lose her patience too quick.
James and Kate had great improv – James showing a character so calm and humorous – a very chilled out, optimistic, yet warm personality. We learned the term “Gerb” …which is a newbie skateboarder. Adrienne and Sam are going to be once close friends, now reconnecting. Jamal and James explored how James’ chilled attitude can get annoying sometimes to Jamal. Kate and Sam let the sparks fly (internally) a little bit, just to get feeling the tension, which we all felt too!
The great thing that started happening naturally was the humor that began to appear in each scene. The process has been to get the character, relationships, and the drama down first, then start adding the layers of humor but I am finding those humorous moments and situations just start happening naturally. Very cool!
I told them now that we have clear characters and relationships that they need to think about what their character really wants badly in this story. After hearing their responses via email, story points and arcs started to emerge.
I then went through all the emails they had sent me from the beginning with their reflections and made a master doc with all the characters, relationships, and story points thus far. I am continually blown away by how fast this process produces great material!