Workshop Notes: Jul 18

Today we started work on a gesture vocabulary, with the company bringing in gestures for ambition, desire, and desperation. We ended up learning sixteen of these and putting them into sequence — notation for all of this can be found in the STL DropBox (as for my own part, I’ll just say that I got better at taking down the notation as we went along. Steep learning curve, that).

For the rest of the afternoon, everyone divided up to start research on their characters and the particulars of their point of view. This seemed to go pretty well from the research end of things — I felt like I had answers for most questions, and didn’t run across any glaring gaps in the material I’ve put together thus far (although it’s only a matter of time).

45mins of research was followed by a quick 15-minute writing exercise. Everybody wrote a short monologue in the voice of their character, in response to questions Kristin and David provided. I thought we got a really great range of responses, with a lot of diversity in tone and perspective.

My high points from those pieces:

Justine’s CEO in training pointing out that even in a family-owned company there’s a difference between personal success and business success, then explaining how upon receiving a letter from the First Lady commending the quality of the stationery she immediately posted it to her Facebook and Twitter.

The polar opposite responses from the Management characters — Becca’s Paper Manager as a foulmouthed “don’t ask me dumb questions” type, who doesn’t have production problems because problems are not tolerated, end of story. Versus Jonny’s timid Benefits Manager, who doesn’t like firing people, who’d prefer to send them to a therapist, who wants us to know that although it may seem pointless to worry about whether an employee takes lunch breaks, that’s actually a Very Big Problem. A manager insisting upon the importance of his day-to-day trivialities.

There was a similar opposite-sides-of-the-coin situation with the Workers. Elena’s Foreman spoke in euphemisms and platitudes: informally, impersonally, and evasively. John’s Lineman was  all about the collective experience of the workers, placing himself squarely as one of them, talking straightforwardly about seeing that kind of layoff coming — no evasion here, just blunt facts.

Julia’s Intern took us on a great  journey through the complexities of the US Government’s role in the creation and distribution of currency, via her character’s confusion over the proliferation of TLAs (three letter agencies) like the BEP and DOT.

Last thing we did today was the Lovemarks survey, adapted to be about the dollar bill. It’s definitely interesting to do it with something that’s not a conventional commodity (like, say, an iPhone). It felt like sometimes this made for thought-provoking questions, and sometimes for totally confusing ones. We talked afterward about the context for these questions — are we meant to compare the experience of US paper currency to other national currencies? To credit cards or digital payments? To coinage? Things to think about.

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