Sunday, April 24, 2016

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CATHLEEN ROOTSAERT ON WRITING MASS EFFECT, THREE DEAD TROLLS IN A BAGGIE (MF GALAXY 075)


HOW IMPROV HELPS WRITING, THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF LAUGHS WRITERS MUST UNDERSTAND, THE GAME MECHANICS OF IMPROV, FACING RESISTANCE TO HUMOUR ON MASS EFFECT 3

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Cathleen Rootsaert is a remarkable creator. She wrote plot and dialogue for the video game Mass Effect 3 by BioWare, and edited dialogue for the studio’s Star Wars: The Old Republic and Mass Effect 2 games. In the late 1980s, along with rising improv stars Wes Borg, Neil Grahn, and Paul Mather, she co-founded the legendary Edmonton comedy troupe Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie, which had a brief run as a CBC television series.

She’s the playwright behind Mimi Amok, After You, Legacy, Make Me and Mama Mia! Me a Mama? which won the Sterling Award for outstanding new work. She also won the 2005 Alberta Playwriting Award for Abigail in Twilight. She appeared on the Ken Finkelman series The Newsroom and the Winnipeg Comedy Festival special I’m Becoming a Mother. She’s a core member of the two-decade strong live improvised soap opera Die Nasty!
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In this episode of MF GALAXY, Cathleen Rootsaert discusses:
  • How improvisation helps writing
  • Understanding body mechanics of speaking and how actors talk
  • How to develop the ear to find the voice
  • The different kinds of laughs writers must understand
  • The mechanics of long-form improv, whether stretched over a theatrical season or in one 50-hour show
  • The game mechanics of improv
  • The Three Dead Trolls experience of working in TV comedy and facing the proverbial “suits”
  • How sketch comedy prepared her to write video games
  • Why she wishes she’d had more stomach for failure when she was younger
  • Her advice on editing scripts and relationships
  • How, despite not being a science fiction fan, she writes for one of the most successful science fiction video games ever made, and
  • How she dealt with resistance to including humour in Mass Effect 3
Along the way, Rootsaert refers to “beats” in a script, which is a specific stage playwriting term referring to how long it takes characters to seek their goal for a scene before changing their tactics.




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