Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Steaming Pile of Improv: Not So Bad

This morning I took an improv workshop. It was my first time doing improv in 8 months. I was rusty. And pushy. I threw a lot of energy at my partner in place of choices.

But it wasn't as bad as I thought.

Here's the story: I was in a scene with this slightly more intellectual and heady-operating guy. He was eager and clearly excited to get it right. But we're in this scene together and I'm steamrolling him with emotion. I'm coming on really strong--too strong--with my initiation. And he shuts down.

To my surprise, our coach asks me to repeat my initiation. The same thing happens: I'm emotionally steamrolling this guy and he shuts down. Again, she asks me repeat the initiation and again, he shuts down. We do this a number of times, exactly as I did it the first time (she asked me to, after all). And just like the first time, he kept shutting down.

I felt terrible. I felt like a younger, almost bully-ish version of myself crushing a playmate.

After the session, my roommate, who was also in attendance, and I were deconstructing the class. About that scene, she said, "well, you were a little aggressive but he was making passive choices. You didn't do anything wrong."

I didn't do anything wrong. Maybe i didn't give the choice the space it deserved, maybe I could have done this, that and the next thing differently, but i didn't do anything wrong.

Was it perfect? No. Was it great? No. But was it terrible? Absolutely not. It had it's merit.

If nothing else, I made a choice. I played it to the best of my ability, even if the product was lacking.

The lesson: let yourself off the hook and do more improv.

Post Script Record: 44 minutes. Better than day one, but worse than day two. Minimal editing takes more time than I think!

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