It’s odd thinking about coming ‘back to life’ or returning to some sort of ‘real life’… as if for the past year we’ve all been suspended in some sort of cryogenic sleep, or resting bucolically somewhere in some sleepy idyll. We haven’t. Life has been difficult, but it has continued throughout the pandemic. We’ve all muddled through as best we can. And it’s been hard for so many, in so many different, incalculable way. As exquisite flowers all pinioned under a flower press, we’ve all been constrained under the pandemic’s weighted burdens for so long.
But ‘Back to Life’ feels a little more present, or at least more imminent for some of us in the world, though sadly not yet for others. (Plus it was a catchy title – so whaddya gonna do!)
We’re all so desperately ready for it – whatever ‘it’ is.
We’ve already got Improv in the Park going on here at LCI. Which is lovely and brilliant. I wrote about the beginnings of that a few weeks ago. And it’s been great so far. Small groups and socially distanced, as per the ‘Rule of 6’. And boy, there is such joy at being able to play improv again in 3D!
I think it’s the kinetic energy of seeing people in the flesh, of being together, of using our whole bodies to create scenes and play games that makes ‘in person’ improv so joyous. Sparky. There’s a lot of laughter and connection with online improv for sure, and it is set to continue. But to be unencumbered by sound lag, physical constraints of a chair and a frame, or stoopid internet blimps, is so liberating and makes improv spring back to life.
I’m currently thinking about the issues of returning to ‘in person’ improv indoors (‘improv unplugged’ as the catchy Hoopla Impro have been saying). Many improv teachers and schools are thinking about this. How to do it? When? What makes it safe? And how can we truly plan anything when the tectonics are still shifting beneath us?
I’m waiting and watching and taking it all in: all the guidelines, what the science is saying, how other teachers are managing it, how I’m feeling about it all. I know it’s too soon to call just now. We just don’t know how ‘back to life’ is going to impact. Simply put – we just don’t know the future. And I’m trying to be OK with that.
And as soon as we arrive at that nebulous thing called ‘the future’ (which as we all know will only ever be ‘the present’), and all things are sufficiently in place – from prosaic aspects like a venue, insurance & risk assessments, to poetic aspects like feelings, desires & well-being – I will try to create the safest possible conditions to bring improv back to indoor life. It’s a lot to consider.
And so I wait, watch, listen and try to return to those central tenets of improv I’ve been practising for so long: being present, not planning ahead too much, listening, being responsive, patience, being with what is and not what’s in my head.
I remind myself again that improv is for life, not just improv.