It’s no secret that I took a big knock to my confidence at the festival of hard lessons. It was a blow to all facets of my creative self; writing, performing, directing, networking, publicising, selling. I knew with the passion of all that I hold dear that the work I had made was absolutely good, and I grew to understand that there was very little audience for it. Hard knocks.
It has taken me a while to recover. Part of that process has been the writing of a new play and a new short story; work I am partly very proud of and partly totally insecure about. Who knows if it is any good? It’s a lot like getting back onto the bicycle after a massive tumble and blow to the head. Actually, I remember coming off my brother’s bike and scraping my knees to shit on the gravel driveway when I was about eight or nine, and never getting back onto one again, so for me the analogy is particularly poignant.
The other part of the recovery process has been improv, and that part has been entirely, magnificently successful. And that is because improv is a positive life force.
On the weekend I was one of many actors involved in the shooting of a developmental movie (to become the pitch for a real, full length feature). What was fantastic about it was that we could come up with our own characters, back stories, circumstances and scenarios, and then we could improvise our scenes. This was right up my alley (and in fact, one of my little scenes wasÂ inÂ a kind of alley). I don’t want to give away any of the story or who I was or what I did, but I loved the opportunity to create, improvise and make offers and proposals that were accepted with such a positive response.
And then, of course, there are our Monday (The Intimate) and Tuesday (The Kalk Bay Theatre) shows, monthly workshops, monthly Jam Sandwich experiments at Alexander Bar, and our weekly classes. Improv is mind blowing. It is proper team work. It is absolute creativity. It is hard and exciting, and easy and hilarious and heartbreakingly beautiful, and totally irreverent and rude, and outrageous, and huge and boisterous, and whacky and precious. It is brilliant to watch; last night I emceed a fantastic show where some of the scenes were absolute masterpieces. It is awesome to perform; last week I played in a scene that will stay with me forever, where Leon Clingman and I performed a game called Shared Memory Story and we were husband and wife philosophers on a skiing trip where something happened to an actual rectum apparent. Yes. It was one of those unexplainable little improv miracles. I love teaching improv, and giving notes. I love my response to it and I love seeing it in others. And I love our audiences. I love them. I love improv as a philosophy with its Yes Let’s answer to everything, and its You Can’t Fuck Up theory. I love spreading the word of improv and I love just doing it for its own sake. My little youtube moments are a great example of when improv just comes to me.
I really enjoy the challenge of writing, performing straight (scripted) theatre, and directing. All of it is part of my craft. But I go home to my heart love when I am improvising.