Breathe

Dan
Dan
Nov 6, 2020 · 3 min read

All the world’s a stage and… that stage is currently on fire, literally and figuratively. The cast of characters is a mix of firefighters and pyromaniacs, and it’s being written by a pandemic, systemic racism and climate change. And no one knows how it will end.

What a great time to be an improviser!

We are dealing with so much, onstage and off. We’re trying to recover and repair, and we need the skills of an improviser just to stay upright. We need to keep our heads and our minds on a swivel, looking for offers and opportunities in everything that is happening. At this moment in time the suggestion from the world is not “spatula” or “two people at a bus top”, it is “survival”. Improvisers are trained to survive and flourish in a world that is not written but rather being created in real time. We have a skill set that thrives in chaos and not knowing. Our training teaches us to use what we have and to build on it. We take stock of the inventory of the moment and act. However in this particular moment we find ourselves rushing past offers in a panic to get somewhere safe. To get somewhere known. We are speeding up our lives looking for a moment in the future when really we need to double down on now. What comes next is really what comes now? We will never have as much control as we do right now. We can’t control the next moment only this one. So how do we maintain our cool? First thing- SLOW DOWN and take your time. Support your partner. Listen to your partner. See your partner. And as Keith Johnstone has said often…MAKE YOUR PARTNER LOOK GOOD. This very simple advice is a game changer onstage or off. Imagine if we always put others first? The ripple effects of people feeling seen and heard would create a different kind of world. One in which people would no longer feel ignored, isolated, or siloed, but would be engaged. You can see this kind of kindness ripple onstage. When improvisers are supporting and positive with their fellow players you can see it literally alter the show. So with that idea of creating waves of joy here are a few things to think about…onstage and off.

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Impro Theatre Improvisers breathing in Sondheim UnScripted

Take a breath

Allow the offer of the moment to land and allow yourself to be present.

Respond

“Yes and” is an acknowledgement that you have heard the offer, not a literal acceptance of EVERYTHING. People just want to know you are listening or in the words of Piglet “just want to be sure of you”.

Take care of your partner

Ask yourself what they need. Give them the gift of your attention so you really hear and see them.

Explore the environment

Be curious about where you are and why you are there. Being present to the world means you are more alive in it.

Open empathetic and joyful choices

By being vulnerable and open to change you are inviting your partner to do the same and together you are creating a space where the two of you can connect.

Eye Contact

There is more information in your partner’s eyes than there is on the entire internet so put your phone down and be there for them.

At our best Improvisers are engaging in continuous acts of compassionate awareness.

Breathe.

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Impro Theatre Musings

Stories from the home of narrative and genre improv

Dan

Written by

Dan

Producing Artistic Director of Impro Theatre and Co-Author of Life UnScripted and Ensemble!

Impro Theatre Musings

Stories from Impro Theatre’s studio, school, and performance company. Chatting about narrative and genre improvisation, comedy, and performing arts. Ongoing class and show info: https://improtheatre.com/

Dan

Written by

Dan

Producing Artistic Director of Impro Theatre and Co-Author of Life UnScripted and Ensemble!

Impro Theatre Musings

Stories from Impro Theatre’s studio, school, and performance company. Chatting about narrative and genre improvisation, comedy, and performing arts. Ongoing class and show info: https://improtheatre.com/

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