Updated: Jun 5
We’re outdoors at last!
We’ve had just over a month of improvising in person in small groups outdoors in the park. And sessions will continue for the foreseeable future. Thank you to all those trailblazing early adopters who have come so far!
What have I learnt?
I’ve remembered the various joys of improvising in person. There’s so many to mention, but here’s a few that come to mind:
The fact that you are together with people in the same space allows us to read each others physicality and facial expressions quickly and be responsive to it.
I’ve recalled that laughter often comes from your head being fried by doing ‘simple things’ like name games and warm ups. Why is it so hard to say your own name whilst walking towards someone else? Why is it mad crazy to try and count 1,2,3 alternately with a partner? I dunno! But my god its funny to try!
I’ve remembered key coaching points, like “look at each other!” “What are they offering you with their physicality?!” All this lovely foundational stuff that either hasn’t been an option online or that the transition between being online to returning offline has temporarily removed from our practice.
It is like starting over, and it’s a wonderful joy to be reminded of some 101 principles again. This is where the heart of improv is really. You cannot go wrong if you look at your scene partner, observe their offer, make it count, let it land.
Object and environment work is back!
During a session in the park recently, one of the regular improvisers who had only learnt improv online said to me “Oh I get it now!” Suddenly they understood the magic of being physically present with others in the same space, in 3D. Receiving or offering an object, a physical shape, or environmental aspect that was seen, supported and understood by their scene partner. “Yes” I said, “that’s right!” Making or receiving an offer with your whole body, making a dynamic shape, using an object, building an environment, responding proxemically, kinesthetically, with purpose, are some of the coolest and most generous moves you can make in a scene.
Dynamic physical choices are back!
I remember chairs – Chairs that are used in the space to inspire creation, not just functionally used to sit on in front of a screen. Placing chairs in the space to inspire a dynamic, status, relationship, location, context is back! And adds so much information. This picture is of an airplane by the way! With an incompetent and somewhat laid back co-pilot (the Fool), juxtaposed with the very serious pilot (Voice of Reason). Making bold physical choices is foundational to improv and it’s back!
Seeing the whole picture is back!
Getting back in person allows us to create a back line, so the players are together, listening, watching, ready and able to easily jump in and offer support to the scene that’s happening in front of them. Both audience and players see the whole picture, have a wider perspective on the moment before us. It’s joyful, playful, and we coalesce together as an ensemble.
Group scenes are back!
My all time favourite way to end a session is the ‘call-back machine.’ It allows everyone to come together at the end and recall all the wonderful, hilarious characters that have been created spontaneously throughout the session. You can pick one of your own or someone else’s creation. In a dynamic, repeating moving image we pay homage and compliments to all that has inspired us or made us laugh during the session. It’s one of the most exhilarating ways to remember everyone’s contribution.
To be able to create this theatrical dynamism in person again is awesome!
BOOK FOR IMPROV IN THE PARK HERE
Join us for Improv in the Park! We are lucky to be able to have larger groups outdoors now, so I invite you to come and play, create, spark your imaginations and creativity, together with others. The sessions are carefully planned to cater for those who have never done improv; had a break from improv; or have been regularly improvising online or in person (in the ‘before times’.)
Please Note: Sessions are capped at 16 people. Social distancing is still our practice. If the session is called off due