The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle

The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle

Author:Daniel Coyle
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Bantam
Published: 2018-01-30T05:00:00+00:00


Every rule directs you either to tamp down selfish instincts that might make you the center of attention, or to serve your fellow actors (support, save, trust, listen). This is why Close’s rules are hard to follow, and also why they are useful in building cooperation. A Harold places you in front of an audience, then asks you to disobey every natural instinct in your brain and instead to give yourself selflessly to the group. In short, it’s a comedy version of Log PT.

“You have to let go of the need to be funny, to be the center of things,” says Nate Dern, former artistic director of UCB. “You have to be able to be naked, to be out of things to say, so that people can find things together. People say their minds should be blank, but that’s not quite it. They should be open.”

UCB is also unique in that it approaches Harolds as if they were a sport. This mentality is reflected in the terminology. There are coaches, not directors; practices, not rehearsals; and each Harold is followed by a rigorous feedback session much like an AAR or a BrainTrust meeting. “Some is positive, but mostly it’s critique-based,” Dern says. “Things like ‘You didn’t listen to your scene partner’s idea.’ Or ‘You steamrollered your partner and didn’t let them contribute.’ It’s pretty intense. As a performer, it’s tough, because you already know you had a bad show, and then your coach will tell you all the things that were bad.”

“In every other form of improv, you can get by on charm,” says Kevin Hines, the academic supervisor of UCB New York. “Not in the Harold. It’s totally unforgiving. Which is why the people who succeed here tend to be extremely hard workers.”

In other words, the Harold is a group brain workout in which you experience, over and over, the pure, painful intersection of vulnerability and interconnection. Seen this way, UCB’s brilliance on stage and screen is not an accident. It is the product of thousands of microevents, thousands of small interpersonal leaps that were made and supported. These groups are cohesive not because it’s natural but because they’ve built, piece by piece, the shared mental muscles to connect and cooperate.



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