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Your end-of-term performance is done. You think you rocked it, though there were some problems, but ah well... the other student performances going on in front of you seem to meander to the background, as in your head, you're busily replaying and analysing every move you made. It's an unyielding internal debate, and standing at the opposing podiums are Uncertainty and Satisfaction, while the person getting drunk in the stands provides a welcome distraction. Over the next day or two, you're coming down off the high. Then, the email arrives. The heart sinks. Imagined future scenarios get much darker. You've been repeated. At that very point, the reasoning and attempts to comfort seem irrelevant.
I once murmured to someone when I first started improv at the Conspiracy that it'd be good to do every level twice, since you could (back then) start Level 1, and top out of Level 4 in 36 weeks. That is a very short period of time to learn a lot. It seems that, for me, this idea is becoming reality, and not of my own choice. I have been repeated once each for Level 1, 2, and the new Level 3. There's a small subset of people who know what it's like to experience a slower growth than their peers. These are the people who have stuck with it, who see more in it than the sting of the results, who didn't crack it and give up, and who come back time after time. It'd be naive to assume the experience is the same for everyone, it seems that no two improv journeys are ever alike. Though, I will share with you how it has been for me.Continue Reading
In my opinion our individual identity is a combination of who we believe we are and how we are perceived by others, with each informing the other. An identity gradually builds over time. Expectations form. Habits accumulate like tartar.
Who am I?
I am a white woman. Tall, slim and often described as “attractive”. While these labels are associated with “compliments” they can become restrictive. And before you jump in with “Bitch please, being a pretty white girl, how f**king restrictive could that be?!”, which is a fair response, please let me elaborate.
There is an immense pressure to be “attractive”, whatever “attractive” actually means, you know, subjectivity. As an actress, this pressure is so normal, it could reasonably be accepted as part of my job. I have been weighed in auditions. I read brief after brief calling for an “attractive woman” and scripts describing “the wife” as “pretty, girl next door type”. Naturally, the identity of an “attractive woman” is believed to be a valuable one. It gets jobs. And men, I’m aware you have similar pressures too, but the value of a woman falls to her appearance so readily and naturally that it is an issue that needs to be addressed until more change is evident.
I’ve experimented a lot with the correlation between the way I am treated and my appearance. On the days when my hair is grubby, my face is naked and I wear clothes that are two sizes too big, I am a breath away from invisible. There are days when I like it this way because when I wear heels, get my pins out and don lashings of mascara the attention can be overwhelming. Greetings from a stranger- “Hey baby girl” (I am clearly not a baby). VERY attentive wait staff. Being purposefully and inappropriately touched on public transport. Well intended friends drowning me in praise. Is this who I am? Is this my identity? My appearance?Continue Reading
I have a very obsessive mindset when it comes to the things I love, including improvised comedy. I'd like to share some recent lessons I've learnt regarding being overcommitted as an improviser, and the importance of taking time off for your health.
Over the past couple of months I have delved headfirst into training and performing with The Improv Conspiracy, trying to do and see as much improv as I can. This is not because I have to, but rather because I want to. Trying to improve and do as many shows as you can is what will make you a better improviser, but this can also be dangerous when you overcommit.
In the past four weeks I have come to the realisation that my whole life has started to revolve around The Improv Conspiracy and acting school. I haven’t done something social like seeing a movie or hanging out with friends for a very long time. I have not been sleeping well or eating properly. I have just been plain exhausted and a little blue all the time trying to commit to as many things as possible. Doing this has affected my performances on stage too: I realised that I wasn’t listening very properly in some improv shows, and I struggled with heightening in my scenes, which then made me want to do even more improv so that I could overcome my issues, which then made me more tired… it’s a never-ending cycle!Continue Reading
In the beginning there was the Yes. And the Yes was good. The Yes yessed, and from within that yessing was beget an And. And that And anded the Yes, for anding was its own yessing. And so the And begat the Yes which begat the And, and so on until the Edit. —The Book of Improv 1:1-5
People often joke about the improv world being a cult. That’s an easy dig and not always unwarranted. If the Training Centre replaces the cooler water with Kool-Aid I will concede the point. After a year and a half with The Improv Conspiracy as a student, performer, and now assistant teacher, though, I’m more inclined to call improv a religion or philosophy instead.
If that leaves you throwing up in your mouth a bit, stay with me! Do you sometimes cringe when your teachers or friends said things like “Good improv advice is good life advice?” Is that too reminiscent of things like smarmy self-help books and snake-charming mega-churches in Texas? Instead of pushing that notion aside, let’s go to church for a minute.Continue Reading
Jayden Masciulli is an Improv Conspiracy student currently in our Level 5 Intermediate Harold class. He previously blogged for us back in January after he finished his Level 1 Intensive course.
I get nervous.
Not only when I step out to do an improv scene, but pretty much every day, in some way. I get nervous before I visit my grandmother, because I’m not sure if I can carry a conversation with her on my own. I get nervous around my little cousins because I honestly don’t know how to act around children. I get nervous ordering food at a restaurant because I’m worried I’ll pronounce "biryani" wrong and the waiter will laugh and make me repeat it again and again until I’ve offended everybody in the room. I realise now as I write this that these are all highly specific social situations, and are ridiculous. Not even my good friend Dr. Google has any idea what to call this condition.
Naturally, I’m easily petrified when I do improv. It’s one of the many reasons why I started taking classes in the first place – to bust out of my self-constructed, albeit very comfy, shell. I know nerves are a bit of an ‘everyone’ problem, but for me it’s always been my biggest pitfall. They stop me from committing to characters, they block my listening of other scenes and they make me go completely, utterly blank. I’ll always remember fumbling my way through my first Jam to an audience of roughly seven people and coming off stage with a dizzying head rush as if I’d just stepped off of a rollercoaster.Continue Reading
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