Going through my improv notebook today, I found a wonderful description and questionable diagram from an improv 401 class I took with Billy Merritt back in 2007. The illustration depicts what Merritt described as the “Secunda Argument Wheel” lovingly named after his Swarm teammate Andrew Secunda.
What the digram illustrates, rather comically, is the idea of resting the game (point of interest, contention) and exploring something else in the scene. Returning to that point of interest heightens the scene and also rewards the players with a powerful pattern to play with.
I wish I had remembered this diagram last year when I took a class with Secunda, as I have no idea how he would react to anyone naming something the “Secunda Argument Wheel.” Although I do remember that Billy Merritt did preface the SAW as something he admired in Secunda’s playing.
If we hear about a retaliatory “Billy Merritt Wheel”, we’ll let you know.
Just last week I had an alarming experience. My improv notebook went missing and I panicked. I started calling all the people I knew, to see if anyone had picked it up while we were out. No one knew where it was. I searched my overflowing backpack, my messy apartment, my paper filled office and still nothing. It turned out, I had written a few notes in it last Wednesday during group practice and had left it by the leg of my chair. Luckily for me, Roy Astorias Studio had it turned in and I retrieved it, but it was a harrowing experience. The history of the last year of my improv education is contained in that little notebook and If I were to loose it, I wouldn’t be able to reconstruct all the lessons, exercises, thoughts, or knowledge contained in it.
This, surprisingly, coincided with an article I have been writing, off and on, for the past 3 weeks about keeping an improv notebook. I considered it a sign that I should finish off the article and post it on the website. And so, without further ado…
Recently a UCB instructor asked me, while I was sitting in the UCB training center’s waiting room, writing in my improv notebook, whether I took class notes.
You now I never see many students taking notes in classes I teach. Back when I was in classes I took lots of notes and I still have all my notebooks.
Yeah, I hardy ever see students taking notes in classes and it sees strange to me as well. I would never remember any of this if I didn’t take notes.
Strangely from that time I have taken 2 additional classes and I am consistently the only student who takes regular notes in my classes and the only student I know who keeps an active written journal (besides improvoker web journal). Of course, everyone is different and has different ways of keeping and recording information. Some people may have brains that can retain class information without the need of a notebook, but I am not one of those people and I would wager that the majority of you all are not those types of people.