Sharing a laugh with your scene partner, fellow players, and audience forms a bond. That bond can last for the evening or it can bloom into a community. The agreement between players and audience to combine their collective imaginations and suspend disbelief together truly is a magical thing! Through improv we examine the human condition. Scenes can be silly, serious, emotional, honest or absurd. It is an art form that reminds us that although the world at times can seem bleak -we can and should laugh at each other and ourselves.
Improv also gives you freedom. As an actor or actress when selecting a role, most often you are limited to a certain type you can play depending on your age, gender and physical attributes. In improv there are no rules! You can go nuts and cast yourself in the roles you want to play or see your friends play. I can be a businessman coming home from a hard day of work, a child, or a serpent witch. The agreement formed by your scene partner and the audience’s imagination allows you to truly be whatever you want to be! I’ll never have to be a quirky mom, frumpy secretary, or dateless drip unless I choose to be and that’s powerful.
On the reverse side, if I am cast in a role by my scene partner, I am in charge of the script and can make my own commentary about how that role make me feel. The support of your scene partner allows your ideas to come to life and vice versa. Sometimes this allows for deep, deep insight, other times -fart jokes! – but knowing that either is possible at any moment is half the fun!
Of course I’m speaking about improv in ideal terms. Not every show or performance is the most mind bending powerful thing I’ve ever seen or done. However therein lies another reason for loving this art form. It is always a challenge. There are always new approaches to a character, a scene, a form. I am constantly learning to be better improviser, by watching performers that inspire me or ones that remind me of my own bad habits. The improv community is comprised of people from all walks of life and various beliefs and sometimes you meet a challenging personality but I like being able to find common ground by saying “Yes!” on stage. I’ve found that the more you say “Yes” on stage the more likely you’ll say “Yes!” off-stage and open opportunities for new experiences and friends. In conclusion, improv gives you the freedom to live, laugh and love! (Now, pardon me while I cross-stitch that phrase on a pillow for The Chicago Improv Den gift shop!)