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Paul Sills: 1927 - 2008 - Live from the RenFest
June 11th, 2008
01:43 am

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Paul Sills: 1927 - 2008
I learned last week of Paul Sills' death. I didn't know him, and while I did take a two-day intensive with him in Portland almost ten years ago, I guess I can't really call myself a student of his, though his teachings have been an influence on my life and work. What struck me about him in person was not his blunt directness (which is legendary), but more that in person, it was clear to me that it came from such a love and passion for the work.
I have two vivid, specific memories of the workshop I took with him. First, was a criticism of my performance in a scene. As an improviser I've always favored slow play, wait for the right move to be needed, etc. I tend not to initiate as much as I should. He called me to task for waiting something out when he could see I knew what needed to happen. I think I made an excuse that I was in the process of doing that (whatever the action was that needed taking). And in his Paul Sills way, he blurted out, "well DO IT then, we don't want to be watching ICEBERGS move!!!"
The other one I remember involved a guy, probably 18 or 19, an aspiring actor. He had a rough scene and Sills asked him what he was doing, and the guy said, "I was... acting." And Sills barked disgustedly, "don't act... acting is a craft that requires years of training!" I took his point to be, focus on your impulse, on what's there in the scene with you, because that's all you have, you can't act your way out of it. The guy didn't come back after lunch.
In other improv news, congrats to General Fools, Taz Van Rassel, Amy Matysio, and Jayden Pfeifer on their 2008 Canadian Comedy Award nominations. I hope to share the stage with you guys again someday soon.

(cross posted from briankameoka.com)

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