Author Archives: morganwh

Happy 50th!

Wanted to give a special shout out on the blog today to my parents. Today is their 50th Wedding Anniversary. They’ve raised two daughters and now have 4 granddaughters. It’s pretty incredible that they have made it so many years together. Not surprising as they are extremely devoted to one another and still very much in love. Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad, I love you.

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Broadway’s Next Hit Musical!

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Recently, I was fortunate enough to attend an Improv workshop with two of the current cast members of Broadway’s Next Hit Musical

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It was held in Decatur, Al at the Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Arts.

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It was great to learn some new games and exercises. It was nice to do some needful sharpening of the basic concepts related to improv. If you don’t keep those basic skills sharpened, you will lose them.

The workshop consisted of 11-99 age of females and males. There were some people that had never done improv before, and there were some seasoned performers. It shouldn’t, but it always amazes me that no matter what your experience level is, it truly becomes irrelevant when your working together to accomplish the same goal. Now that is not a slam on seasoned performers, but really a compliment. Improv should produce a safe environment where everyone involved feels supported and accepted. It is nice to see people come together and be willing to look beyond their accolades, and just play.

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That evening, I attended Broadway’s Next Hit Musical’s show. It was beyond wonderful.  First, I was amazed by how talented the piano player was. He drove the scenes. He was conducting right before our eyes. The improvisers were equally gifted in their improvising skills and their voice performances. There is a host as well. The improviser that hosted the show I saw was incredible funny, intuitive and had a perfect blend of drive and humor that made the night even better. I found myself laughing so hard tears were streaming down my face. This was not cheap humor. It was intentional, intelligent, and a beautiful showing of what happens when people go on stage and truly care about each other and have an immense trust for one another.

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If you get a chance to catch Broadway’s Next Hit Musical, you should. Click on the link above and see when they are coming to your town. Also, if you are ever in Decatur, Al , check out The Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Arts. They have amazing things going on all the time.

Viewpoints and Moments

I was granted a unique privilege recently to attend a viewpoints and moment work workshop at the Princess Theater in Decatur, Alabama .

The workshop  was sponsored by the Alabama Department of Education. I had read and talked about this type of work before, but I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into. I had attended the SETC conference before and heard others talk about this type of work.  So I was super excited to dive into a deeper exploration of this type of work.

During the workshop,  I felt an excitement that I hadn’t felt in awhile, and I was super excited to go everyday. The workshop was taught similar to the way I teach my improv workshops. I usually take a concept then build on it until the end. Then I put all the concepts together and have a finished product. It makes the learner progress without you making them feel like their is a progression.  Basically that is what our teacher did. I became more self aware, I became more aware of what was around me, and I began building the muscle of balancing those two things. Also, I learned how the elements of theater effect meaning, and I learned when you are more aware of the use of those elements and intentional with those elements it changes meaning.

This workshop was amazing, and it opened my mind to new possibilities of  the concepts of awareness and intentionality of the work. Also, it made me more confident in my choices, and it allowed me to practice the “drop your crap” principle. (if two people have an idea, one of you have to give in eventually or you get no where so somebody has to drop their crap and pick up someone else’s crap). Speaking of crap, I loved when our teacher said that we were going to make a lot of crap, but out of that will sometime come a golden nugget.  It’s so true. Often when you are creative you have a lot stuff to sort through before you can get to the good stuff.

Happily Ever After!

Recently, I went to Disney World.One of my favorite moments from my trip was watching the fireworks at Magic Kingdom. Fireworks at Disney are always amazing, but I wasn’t prepared for my heart to be so moved by this show. As I watched, it made me feel like a kid all over again. I loved this show so much because it brought a flood a memories back to me.

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The show is called Happily Ever After. It was truly something I will forever remember.

I loved the opening song so much that I bought it on I Tunes. Here is the video of the two singers recording the song.

If you go to Disney World while this show is running, you must see it. It is so worth the crowd. It found a special spot in my heart. If you like Disney music, you need to go on over to I Tunes and buy this song.

 

How to Act and Get Paid?

Recently, A few people have asked me about getting paid as an actor or filmmaker. Please know that I am an indy filmmaker, who has only done a  handful of films. You can find my profile on IMDB Profile.  I can only speak from My own experience. which mostly is extra work or featured extra roles. I’m not the star of a set generally.

When I have worked on a film set, I’ve been asked to sign a release of photograph saying it’s ok to use  my image, I have filled out a  voucher showing me the rate which has been a flat rate for so many hours, or  hourly rate.  I have provided my Driver’s licence and Social Security card for identification. I’ve signed a non disclosure agreement as well. Once I was done filming,

I was compensated a couple different ways.

  1. From an agent. If you have an agent, sometimes your payment will go straight through their office. Then they will cut you a check after they take 10-20% which is fair. Generally when I had an agent, if I got work on my own, I would compensate my agent still just as a courtesy.
  2. Straight from the accounting office. I’ve worked on several films where you sign an agreement and then when you finish your two days of work, you get paid right from accounting personnel.
  3. Through a secondary company. Most films will pay through a voucher system. You get a voucher and then you could receive money within a couple of weeks after your last day of shooting. Now I have waited an unreasonable amount of time before on a project. Just be aware with vouchers, it works out most of the time eventually. Just know you most likely will not get paid the week you work. I learned this the hard way.

Just always take care of yourself. When I am on set,

  1. I always get a point of contact before I leave regarding payment.
  2. I always double check that I have a copy of my vouchers in order.
  3. I always call the company after a week of completing the film and continue to do so every week until the can verify that they have received my vouchers and they are mailing my check.
  4. In the US, know the number the film office in the state you are working in. This is just in case you need to contact them for not getting paid. Films depend on money they get from the state they film in, to cover some of the expenses of the process. If they shouldn’t get paid that money unless they are paying you.

Making money doing film work is fun, just know that getting payment isn’t always timely, and you may have to get legal help sometimes.

 

You have a podcast?

Why yes I do have a podcast. It’s called the WeMo Podcast. We made it on Anchor. Capture

I say we because it is an adventure that I am currently embarking on with my husband.

 

 

Are you wondering why it is called The WeMo Podcast?

This was a nickname given to me by the first improv troupe that I was in. It’s the first two letters of my first name and the last two letters of my Husband’s last name. We felt that it was appropriate to name it such.

What are we going to talk about?

We have a set number of topics that we want to discuss like art, negativity, relationships, minimalism, family, spirituality and so much more.

Is this a high end production?

Right now we are being minimal with the production, but as we go along, it will hopefully sound better and be a little more layered. We decided to go with recording on Anchor, and we love it so far. They make it pretty simple so that anyone can have a podcast.

When do you drop episodes?

We are dropping a new podcast every week on Friday nights. It may be Saturday before you can listen on some platforms.

If you want to join our listening audience, you can do so here,  The WeMo Podcast.

Improv 101 Lesson 4: Taking Care of your Scene Partner

 

Building trust is vital when doing improv. Improv can be a very intimate experience. People can be very vulnerable. The longer you play with people, you can get to where you finish each others sentences. You can get to the point when you look at someone, you know where they are going. How do you build this trust?

TAKE CARE OF YOUR SCENE PARTNER

Here are a few ways to make your scene partner look good.

Be prepared

Come in your scene fully prepared to be present. Be prepared to bring in elements to the scene and push it forward. I have certain characters that I have developed that I like to play that I will insert into my scene. I try to be detailed, and I try to make my characters grounded and strong.

Focus on your scene partner.

Realize you are not there to be a one person show. You are there to build a scene with some one else. They are trusting that you are going to be there and add to the scene. Your job is to make them look good. It is so easy to always make choices that are comfortable and make you feel good.If your scene partner takes the scene in a different direction. drop your idea, and yes and them. Don’t throw your scene partner under the bus. Make them the star. In return, they will do the same.

Trust that your scene partner has your back

This is one of the best gifts. Take chances on stage. You don’t have to do this alone. It takes so much pressure off of you. It can offer you so much confidence to try new ideas, and activities on stage. If you know that your scene partner will follow you to Paris, London or even the moon, you will be willing to push beyond your comfort zone, and you will grow as an improviser. by you trusting your scene partner, you are taking care of them because you will push them to try new things.

I have made life long friendships on the improv stage by following these steps. I will tell you when you work with people who don’t believe in these principals, you will grow to appreciate those times when you work with people who do.

Improv 101 Lesson 3: No Questions Please!

If you missed the last lesson of this series of post, you can find it here. Lesson 2 

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Lesson 2: No Questions Please!

Here are several reasons you should avoid questions when you are beginning in improv. Questions often don’t give information, they often don’t push the scene forward, nor do they take care of your scene partner.

To Many Questions

Let’s set the premise a scene where all one player does is ask questions.  Player one is already home and is sitting down reading a book. Player 2 enters the scene.

Player 2: What are you doing?

Player 1: Reading a book about gardening.

Player 2: Why?

Player 1: I thought it would be great to plant a garden, instead of buying canned food.

Player 2: Where?

Player 1: Right out back, see this book talks about patio gardens.

Player 2 is asking questions without providing information. Player 2 doesn’t give information, doesn’t push the scene forward, and Player 2 doesn’t  take care of Player 1.

Let’s see the scene again after we take out questions

No Questions

Player one is already home and is sitting down reading a book. Player 2 enters the scene.

Player 2: Bob, I can’t believe you are reading about gardening again.

Player 1: Honey, this will be very helpful when I plant a garden out back. We can be healthier, and not eat processed food.

Player 2: You’ve been reading that book for 2 months now. It’s time to put the book down and start planting. I got all your plants in the car.

Player 1:Helen, I hope you bought a green thumb.

By eliminating questions, It makes our scene cleaner, and the pacing speeds right on up and get’s us moving forward.

As you advance in improv, you can learn to ask smart questions, but  avoiding them is still best.

So if you apply these three lessons, you can begin a great foundation for improvising. At least if you decide to go to class, you want be blind sided by what they are talking about.

 

 

 

Improv 101 Lesson 2: Listening

If you missed lesson 1 of my improv 101 you can click below.

Lesson 1

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Lesson 2: Listening

When you are on stage, listening is vital because your scene partner is giving you all sorts of good information, and if you are hearing them, your scenes will be great. Using all your senses on stage is important. Watching every twitch of a scene partners eye to a smirk on their face. What they are offering you is a gift. If we learn to listen and watch them, we take the focus of of us. We don’t worry about what we are going to do or say. Our job as an improviser is clear. No pressure. Here are some examples that might occur that would hinder your scene.

Not Listening Example. 

Player 1 “Harriet, here are the Wilson files. ”

Player 2 “I love these flowers”

Player 2 totally disregarded what player one was giving them. Player 1 said the object was files. Player two said the object was flowers. This will cause confusion on the stage.

Not Listening Example 2

Player 1 ” Honey the babies are coming, and I need to go to the hospital”

Player 2 ” I wished we could have a baby.

Player 1 ” I’m pregnant right now.”

Player 2 ” We should get pregnant.”

Player 2 is obviously not listening to what Player 1 said.

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Correct Listening response 1.

Player 1 “Harriet, here are the Wilson files. ”

Player 2 “Mrs Parker, I will put these court files back in the cabinet, and we will keep them just in case the come back with more false claims against Barbecue Grill.”

Player 2 just made it clear that these files were court documents, and the Wilson family had caused some trouble at the Barbecue Grill. Not only did she listen to her scene partner, she added information. Because Player 2 had Listened to what her scene partner was saying, they began creating a beautiful scene together.

Correct Listening response 2

Player 1 ” Honey the babies are coming, and I need to go to the hospital”

Player 2 ” The bag, the bag. I need to Breathe. hee hee, i mean you need ot breathe”

Player 2 has listened affirmed player 1 and pushed this scene forward by becoming panicked.

 

Incorrect Listening response 2

Player 2  enter the scene. Player 1 is already on stage slamming cabinets and stomping around the stage. Player 1 has a scrunched up face. Player 2  enter the scene.

Incorrect response by Player 2 directed toward player 1.

Player 2: I am glad that we decided to spend my birthday here at the zoo today, and I love these animals.

Player 1 has already established that he is inside in a room with a kitchen, and Player one is not looking at animals. Player 2 is not listening to Player 1. Player 2 is saying no by not taking what Player 1 has already established. It confuses the audience, and leads Player 1 to have to make a choice.

 

 Player 1 may not choose to drop anything and say.

“WE are not at the zoo, we are at home, it’s not your birthday and I’m mad.”

If Player 2 comes back with

“Yes we are at the zoo”

This just creates an argument. It creates a lot of negation.

This is how the scene could be less confusing. 

How could Player 1 respond correctly

Player 1 could say to  Player 2

“You are not authorized to be behind the lion cages, where we store medicine and food”

This could fix the confusion, and get yes and started up again.

Correct Listening Example 

But to eliminate all confusion, it could go something like this.

Player 2  enter the scene. Player 1 is already on stage slamming cabinets and stomping around the stage. Player 1 has a scrunched up face. Player 2  enter the scene.

Player 2  Samantha, If you are looking for your Frosted Flakes, I ate them and they were sooooo good.

Player 1: You. I’m telling mom.

By listening now we have a relationship and a scene that can push forward and build into something great.

Improvising is about building great scenes that develop relationship through yes and and listening.

Improv 101 Lesson 1: Yes and…

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I have often mentioned improv on my blog here, but It has been awhile since I have went over the basics of improv. So I’ve decided over the next few weeks that I would write a short blog about some basics that  I would cover in my workshop normally. The first one is by far may be the most important for any beginning improviser, and it’s always good as a seasoned performer to revisit exercise that keep this in your tool belt.

YES AND

When you say no in your scene, it will only lead to nothing. Saying yes will keep your scene moving.

An example of saying no would go like this. 

Player 1:  “Bob, It is our duty as fire fighters to put out this fire on 8th Street. ”

Player 2:   “I’m a police officer. I have never been a fire fighter. ”

An example of saying yes would go like this

Player 1: “Bob, It is our duty as fire fighters to put out this fire on 8th Street. ”

Player 2: ” Yes Pete, I’ve got the truck ready, and I will drive.”

By saying yes and adding direction, this gives us more information and something to work with.

Say yes and

Not only say yes, but give something else to your scene partner by saying yes and

Ex. If your scene partner says 

Player 1: “We are going to the store.”

Player 2:  “Yes we are going to the store.”

Even though you yes to what your scene partner said, you didn’t add anything to help push the scene forward. By doing this, you put all the pressure on them to come up with everything in the scene.

An example of a correct response =

Player 1: Terry, we are going to the store.

Player 2: “Yes Mary,  we are going to the store, and since it is our 25th wedding anniversary, I am going to buy you a new Tiffany Diamond Ring.

This would lead to a fuller scene. It has affirmed and added more information. Now the two players are building a scene together, rather than, one of them doing it alone.

Playing scenes with Yes and is truly the easiest way to build a scene. You might think that it would keep conflict away, but it truly works and make interesting scenes. Starting out keep it simple. Say Yes And.

 

Kaitlin Chappell

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