Finishing with animals

Real quick, as I must dash to college shortly. First, LISPA has an open day this coming Monday so, if you’ve been reading this with thoughts of attending from this autumn, why not come along. You need to book a place and details are on the LISPA site (click ‘Latest News’ and scroll down the pop-up window; yes, it would be easier if their news was visible on the front page of the site).

The work on animals continues, although we’ve also started to move on to character masks, more of which another time. Having already made the animals walk upright we began increasing the percentage of human in the characters. First we did 50/50 — as simple as, say, keeping the animal’s style of walking while having the upper-half of the body human. The walk still affects the rest of the body, but there’s a bit more freedom to do human activities. And even talk!

This is almost the first time we’ve been able to actually talk in our improvisations, what with all the non-verbal animals and mute masks. In improvisations there’s often the temptation to rely on conversation, so you end up with people standing, talking, but doing nothing. Just talking is fine, if the script’s good, but it’s more interesting to watch things happen, and I can see why we’ve been spending so much time on mask and animal work. Although we still fall into the trap of talking too much, we’re also, I hope, more prepared to do, rather than talk.

We then reduced the animal even more, maybe 70/30 human/animal. So you’re pretty much human but the animal might affect the way you walk, your posture, your voice, your mannerisms, your reactions, etc. Or maybe the animal only emerges under stress, the part of you that is usually hidden and restrained. Or maybe your character starts influenced by one animal but an extreme situation brings out a different animal.

I’d only done a tiny bit of animal work before LISPA and had never been quite clear how to use it to make a character. But it’s been fascinating to watch all these interesting characters emerge, creations we’d probably never have come up with otherwise.

Although we’ve moved onto character masks in class now, our creation groups are still with the animals. In fact, if you come to the open day you’ll see us present our weekly presentation in which we have to create a scene with all participants 50/50 human/animal. We’ve been working on this for nearly two weeks. Our first presentations, a couple of days ago, were, to be kind, variable. So we’re all revising what we’ve got. Or, in our case, almost starting from scratch. So we now have three scheduled hours to create something to show to you on Monday. I’d better dash.


  • i hear you did a kick-ass penguin for your acrobatics final yesterday.... wish i could've seen it!

  • Thanks! It seemed to go down well, despite involving no acrobatics at all.

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Thursday 12 April 2007, 8:15am

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12 Apr 2007 at Twitter

  • 9:51pm: Home at last. Long, busy but fun day. Jerusalem hasn't changed since Web 1.0 except we look tireder.
  • 6:33pm: Heading to Beach Burrito Cafe, Berwick St.
  • 6:16pm: Anyone in town for drink or food right now?
  • 6:10pm: Wondering if anyone is in central London right now as I don't want to hang around till Yoz's thing at 8 on my own.
  • 3:32pm: In Soho Square, waiting for friends.
  • 1:28pm: PMOG presentation over, heading into town with few specific plans. Nice to be briefly aimless for once.
  • 12:02pm: Waiting for Justin's PMOG presentation to start at BBC Broadcast Centre.
  • 8:16am: Work over for the week. Dashing off for a brief bit of college.
  • 6:37am: Starting the last little bit of work for the week.