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Improvisation Improv


One aspect of the classes of the Drama Workhouse that I have enjoyed is the improv element of the sessions. So after the first class I had a look online as to what Improv was all about, what it is, what it is meant to achieve, and of course the irony of such action is that with improv you are in no way meant to pre-plan or even think about it before hand. But on Wikipedia this is the explanation: Improvisation is the practice of acting, singing, talking and reacting, of making and creating, in the moment and in response to the stimulus of one's immediate environment and inner feelings. This can result in the invention of new thought patterns, new practices, new structures or symbols, and/or new ways to act. This invention cycle occurs most effectively when the practitioner has a thorough intuitive and technical understanding of the necessary skills and concerns within the improvised domain. Improvisation can be thought of as an "on the spot" or "off the cuff" spontaneous activity.

The skills of improvisation can apply to many different abilities or forms of communication and expression across all artistic, scientific, physical, cognitive, academic, and non-academic disciplines. For example, improvisation can make a significant contribution in music, cooking, presenting a speech, sales, personal or romantic relationships, sports, flower arranging, martial arts, psychotherapy, and much more.

I have said before that doing improv is something I find particularly easy, or natural, it is an aspect of me that I feel skilled at and when I look at the definition as outlined above I can sort of see why I do. Areas of improvisation or areas where it is a natural fit include cooking, sport, speech, martial arts, and psychotherapy and sales, all of which I am developed, experienced and highly skilled in. Or at least I have had exposure to. So it should be no surprise that I feel I am okay at this and that I find it quite easy.

One thing however that is new, and is something of a challenge is when you have to improv with certain people, I am not being critical of them, I have no right to be, but there are people with less imagination than I, just as there are some with far more, and when I have had to interact with those of less I do find myself being slightly frustrated and caught between a rock and a hard place. I want the scene to work, I want it to last, I need it to be involving as that for me is the best way I will learn or maybe stretch me, and one real issue is that in this environment you can’t “take over” the scene, you have to limit yourself to the confines of their scene. The teacher explains that a scene may be just a few seconds or a number of minutes, and yes she is right, but for me that means less direct learning time.

While I know that I can, and do, also learn from watching others, for me I want stage time so I can practice what I have learned, so I can show that I have learned both from the feedback and from watching others and listening to their feedback.

So far in the classes I have played a football fan, a sad doctor, an angler, and my most favourite a gay guy who is breaking up with his lover. And in each I do feel that while I found them easy to run with, that I have improved with each and opened up more with each, and maybe that is one main reason why my gay man scene was the most enjoyable, but if you are not meant to think ahead about improv, then how can I plan for what I do next, how do I plan for how I expand or how I show that I am learning and listening.

So while improv is something I find easy and enjoyable, it is also something that provides me with my biggest conundrum, to plan or not to plan, now that really is a question?


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