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I should probably start this by saying that the following will not apply to every scene, it may not be how you want to play as an improviser, it might be something you vehemently disagree with, and it certainly will not help you choose the perfect Christmas present for your mother (it’s probably something that smells of lavender. Mums love anything that smells like lavender. Get your mum some lavender).
All of this has been knocking around in my head recently, and I thought I might share it with you, because it might help your scene work, it might make things easier for you, or it might just lock a little bit more down for you.
Along with a sense of play and fun, we’ve been looking a lot at mirroring in Level 1, and there’s a pretty simple reason for that – it’s a really quick and easy way of connecting with you scene partner.Continue Reading
At about the age of eight, I developed an insidious trait – perfectionism. On the surface it sounds good. And it’s self-fulfilling – perfectionists tend to be pretty good at a lot of stuff, in my experience.
It probably had something to do with some mean school yard kids. To protect myself, I found a source of constant approval where no one could tease you – getting everything right. And I found another trick – avoid the things you get wrong. Then they can never say anything bad about you. Ever.
This carried me all throughout school, where my perfectionism was rewarded again and again, ultimately with a very high score (that, meanwhile, was well beyond the score I needed for the course I wanted to get into, but never mind). It continued into adulthood; at work, performance reviews were rarely negative. In retrospect, perhaps my managers sensed the need to limit negative feedback with me. Nonetheless, the feedback loop favouring perfectionism continued and I built my self-esteem and self-worth on ongoing and unblemished success. I loved hearing about athletes who had never lost a race, actors who only chose good movies. This was the sign of a great human. People who were always getting it right. These were the people to be.Continue Reading
This week (5 – 12 October) is Mental Health Week, and it got me thinking about improv and my mental health, and how the two are connected.
They say that one of the best things for improving your mental health is to exercise. Well, ok, but I don't really like exercise because it usually involves sports. Or lycra. What I DO like is improvising! Fortunately it seems to be good for me and as a bonus there's zero lycra involved.
Sure, when I first started improvising I probably went backwards anxiety-wise, because I was so hung up on whether I was doing a good job, being an idiot (read: myself) in front of a room full of strangers, and most of all I was terrified of letting go of control.Continue Reading
23 July 2013
Sign up to take a Level 1 workshop with The Improv Conspiracy. I figure it would be a good way to get more comfortable interacting with strangers - I'm good with my close friends, but quite timid once that circle expands. At worst, I'll run into someone I can talk comedy podcasts to - surely someone else listens to improv4humans?
27 July 2013
First L1 class has just finished. Andrew, the teacher is jovial, energetic, and in-your-face. I'm really nervous before, during, and after class. We do this activity called Alien Soul-Mate where one person jumps into a circle performing an action and a noise. A second person joins them taking on action and noise, then transforming them into a new action and noise. People in the class were laughing but I'm not sure what they're laughing at. We do a bunch of other activities, the names of which I forget but it's clear that there are two groups of people in class - the actors and the act-nots. I'm in the latter.
19 August 2013
Still getting nervous before class, but when we get in we "shake it out" and those nerves dissipate. Do a scene with James based off the suggestion salt. I'm eating a meal and James is a waiter. I ask the waiter for a drinks menu and he recommends the salt scotch. I struggle not to laugh at the absurdity of salt scotch. The scene ends up being about my character's struggle with a heart problem and ends up being the first scene where I come away thinking "I'm not completely horrible at this." [Postscript Note: Almost a year later, "salt scotch" still makes me laugh].
26 August 2013
Andrew urges us to all go down to the pub after class, and a few of us make it along. I find out that I'm the only person without a performance background - everyone else has either taking previous improv courses elsewhere or acting training. I have no performance ambitions - I am curious about how improv works because I enjoy comedy, but that's about it. The last time I performed was when I took drama in Year 8. Blerk. But that doesn't matter - the people in my class are warm and welcoming and I enjoy the experience.Continue Reading
Conspirator Hayley Tantau runs a blog over at TheTheatricalJournalist.com where she has been posting some great content about her continuing adventures with improv. With her permission, we'll be republishing some of her best posts in their entirety. Today's post: Not Sure If: Improv Notes or Life Advice (part 2)
This new edition of ‘Not Sure If: Improv Notes or Life Advice’ is brought to you by the help of Heal Yourself, Skeletor - a meme featuring He-Man’s Skeletor and positive life affirmations. Since I found it, it has become my favourite thing as it combines humour with annoying-yet-true life affirmations. Also, I can relate every single image and quote to improvisation. Also-also, I really just wanted an excuse to use this meme.
Life affirmation: “My mind is open to new ideas”
Improv: Before you step into training or a performance, or even before you take improv classes, you need to open your mind and prepare it for the forthcoming possibilities of which you can’t control. Planning out an entire scene in your head is toxic! If you initiate a scene idea, you need to know that you’re not solely responsible for how the scene is going to go, nor are you entitled to own the scene. It’s a collaborative process.
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