Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Category: applied improv (Page 2 of 3)

TheatreSports after a hard show

There is nothing more fantastic than a great TheatreSports show. It’s the best feel-good fix for any player. But when the show is tough and complicated it offers up the most learning. Last night’s show was like that, and because I am a bit rusty at the moment I felt the moments of struggle a lot more acutely.

Improvising is complex and simple all at once. You have to follow the basic rules, but you also have to allow for all possibilities. You have to be confident yet completely generous. You have to give ideas and give up ideas. You have to work with and for the other players. And you have to remember every step of the way that nobody knows what you are thinking unless you say it out loud!

Improvising in front of an audience shows up every relationship; both on-stage relationships between characters and off-stage relationships between players. Of course there is also the interface with the audience by the emcee and the silent player in the lighting box too. Then there is the musical improviser who is also busy giving and taking. All this relating! And it’s fluid and dynamic, constantly shifting and changing, with status, energy, and emotion.

After every ‘difficult’ performance I walk away trying to find the key. I think last night’s one was ‘set-up’. It felt like we were in a rush to get to the middle and end of each game, before we had clearly established the set-up in the beginning. One thing about improvising is that you never stop learning. And because each show is completely different, you can keep practicing, and while you might make the same mistakes, it will always be in a completely different way, with different players, and in front of a different audience.

I am so delighted to be back on stage in this way; even when it is tough. Thank you TheatreSports.

Learning my own lessons

Today I got completely undone. I left the house at 07h40 to be at a workshop I thought was near Stellenbosch well in time for its 9am start. I had petrol, I had printed out directions, I had plenty of time and I had a semi clear idea of where I thought I was going. Only, the truth is, I had NO idea. So when the turn off I thought was the R300 was actually the R310 I felt like the road itself had disappeared or was playing a malevolent trick on me. The long and boring story is that I went in ever widening circles, building self-doubt and hysteria and seeing-without-seeing. Many sobbing phone calls to Big Friendy later (my hero googled and searched and gave me remote directions and encouragement) I finally (almost 40 minutes late) turned into the right road. Still, because of my panic I couldn’t see the huge, signed building in front of me. I had gone hysterical-blind.

This group of people, who I had had phone contact with, were so kind and forgiving. I quickly ran to the bathroom, and in my haste I tore the string tying my ninja Kabuki pants up. I now had nothing to keep this huge, shapeless mass of material up with. I was pantless!

Needless to say, I entered the space of the workshop on full tilt. And it was amazing. I was humbled by my mistake, and in an open, vulnerable, slightly altered state. The perfect space to be to learn and teach improvising.

Learning while teaching

I have arrived, exhausted but inspired, at the end of two intensive weekends of running the TheatreSports course. It was a very interesting little group, that was challenging and complicated and hilarious. As always, I learn so much, about individuals, group dynamics, the power of improvisation, myself as a teacher and leader, and of course the unexpected learning that laughter brings. This time, however, I learnt the most from a young lady participant who is in matric at school. Normally I don’t let school learners do the course; I insist that they are done with school first, but I made an exception with this person because I have a special connection to her, too complicated to write about here.

In our daily chat and catch up/wrap up as I gave her a lift home she would leave me with little insights, perceptions and gems of thought that stayed with me long after anything else. She is an amazing somebody, who completely managed with a group of people way older than her, and she had a totally generous and positive spirit that coloured everything she did. So, this note is to thank her, for making my teaching a real learning too.

Ah, Ha!Man

I’ve wanted to see this guy for ages now, having heard so much about him, so last night Big Friendly and I went off to the Kalk Bay Theatre to check the Ha!Man out. It was one of those times when you realise that all people, even your most loved ones, occupy different planets. When the lights came on at interval, I broke my rapture and turned to Big Friendly. His look was pure acid. “What total shit!” he said.

I had to take a moment to deal with the shock! I had sat, listening to the Ha!Man improvise vocally, make music, dance to images of grape vines and girl, play his instruments and tap computers, and I had gone into an almost trance! All the while Big Friendly had sat seething beside me. Different strokes. Ovias. I let Big Friendly leave and I scored a lift home with my china, who loves the Ha!Man so much, she had been to the show three nights in a row.

guitarist The Ha!Man is very, very interesting indeed. His performance is mostly improvised, and you literally see him looking around at times for inspiration, the what of his next bit. Of course improvisation is exactly what I am passionate about, so it was very exciting to watch that process. I think that what is quite different about music/sound improv is that as an audience member you are much more passive. Which totally worked for me last night; I just sat back and tranced out. But I can see where the potential is for ‘some people’ bf bf, to find it all a bit self-indulgent. 

One of the things that was amazing about this experience was how the Ha!Man flies solo. Improv has always been such collaborative work for me; it has always involved more than one person, even if it is just having a stronger, more interactive relationship with the audience. The Ha!Man’s final moment last night was using the audience’s clapping ovation and playing with, and that was really very cool. Up until then it had been much more just watching him do the stuff, which I found both mesmerising and quite inspiring.

A weird little side note: Haman is the bad guy in the Jewish story of Purim, which was celebrated last Sunday. On this Jewish holiday one of the things you do is when the congregation listens to the reading of the story, every time the name Haman is said people make huge noise, with rattles and their voices, so that the sound of his name is totally drowned out. 

The gift of improv

There is no doubt that performing improv (in my case, in the form of TheatreSports) in front of a live audience is one of the most rewarding things you can do on stage. I think it’s because the possibilities are endless, the experience is unique and totally unrepeatable, and there is that short cut to the feeling of magic because you are present, in yourself, totally truthful and responsive.

Improv has become my religion. I find myself sprouting it as a cure-all for everything. If people want to be good leaders they need to know how to improvise. If companies are dealing with change and fear they need improvisation skills. People suffering from presentation anxiety need to learn to improvise. Actors need improvisation as a fundamental tool of their craft. The skills of improvisation and the mindset it can help create change the way people live and respond to things. It’s altogether a more positive, problem solving, cooperative way of being.

So I am so excited and happy that I am going to be facilitating the new TheatreSports improv workshop over the coming two weekends. A group of wannabe improvisers will be gathering for this intense course. Some will be coming because they want to ‘let loose’ and free themselves from inhibitions. Some will be entertaining the fierce desire to join our existing group of players to perform TheatreSports in front of an audience. Some will not even know exactly why they are there until, in a moment, it falls into place. It’s not too late to sign up. Contact me and I’ll share the details.

Improv is mind blowing

I have just come back from the second day of our four day (two weekend) TheatreSports and improv training course, and even though I am moeg I am also filled with inspiration. It is such a wonderful process, this learning how to improvise, make things up, work with each other, relax, be silly and create an open mind and heart, ready for all the possibilities.

It’s difficult stuff, and this group of wonderful experimenters is interesting and interested, scared and challenged and having tons of really intense fun (I hope).

Tea and a bath is what I need now.

Page 2 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén