There was an interesting discussion online yesterday. I had to chime in.
The discussion centered around the idea of what it takes to be considered “improvisation” and is it unfair to say that you are improvising when there’s no “risk”.
I just thought I would throw in my two bits because I like this topic.
Improvisation is ALWAYS occurring… Yul Brenner played the lead role in the KING and I more than 1200 times on stage and won an oscar for the film. He was saying that if he didn’t have a certain amount of spontaneity in the role, he would never have been able to make it through the years of playing the same role.
He had to “improvise” within the limits of the structure.
BASICALLY, we look at most traditional theatre as not improvising BUT I think IMPROVISATION IS ON THE SPECTRUM of all that we do.
In the most rigid work, there is adaptation. In the most improvised work, there is structure – The language is structure… but improvised. The ability to move is defined but improvised. There are plans in the most improvised behavior.
Pure improvisation is shit. Say anything! Do Anything! No rules! No structure! OH GOD – I’ve seen things close to it. In that, there is NO risk. Make sounds and move around and care nothing for what the audience is watching. Self-centered self-expression as improvisation is rarely engaging to most.
Risk? Ask yourself what risk is. You have to have some structure to take a risk. Because risk – risks what? Maybe not being right? Maybe being vulnerable? Maybe being really truthful?
Risk is definitely not jumping through the hoops to do difficult games (which are also structured and so also on a spectrum of Improvisation/structure) If those people who did a written show and only improvised for 5 minutes at the end and promised me that it would be different in the next show, I might be a little interested to come back to see it again if the show was interesting for me.
There have been so many shows I’ve seen by “good” groups where the first show blows me away. Then I see it the next night and think the second show wasn’t as good as the night before… and then I see it again and realize the scaffold that they created to hang their stories on was so rigid that even though there were no lines repeated, I wouldn’t want to watch it again because it was just predictable structured improvisation.
No risk without the possibility of failure.
Improvisation is everywhere.
It’s like dance. Where some people hate Ballet but love Hip Hop, Improvisation is something we can easily disagree about. It’s ALL improvisation. I might watch BAR IMPROVISATION once a year. I would watch good narrative improvisation with variety anytime. I would watch self-centered bad improvisation that has no connection to the audience NEVER.
The argument about what is improvised and what isn’t is maybe less relevant than what improvised work do you like and why? And what really is RISK in improvisation?Ahhhhhh but I have said too much!Wash your hands and have a nice day!