If you're a first time visitor to the iQuantum Blog, please refer to the "Foundations of Quantum Improv" to give you an appropriate background to the philosophies and strategies discussed here. #1 What is Quantum Improv #2 More Quantum Background #3 Newton's Second Law of Motion

If you've missed one or more entries in the series:
ReV Up Your Improv Scenes
you can now easily access each and every part.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Contrasting Improv Ideologies?

PART 3.5 of the Series: ReV up Your Improv Scenes
If you missed Part 3 - Click Here
If you missed Part 2 - Click Here
If you missed Part 1 - Click Here

I'm marking this post as 3.5 because I feel the desire to slide it in at this point, although it is not the intended succession of the original flow.

I wanted to speak about a talk my wife Morgan and I had regarding improv in general and this "method" of training in particular.

Morgan and I taught an improv workshop this past weekend and later she said to me "you know, I think we have different philosophies on teaching improv." On further discussion, I might say she's right - and that's okay! Even better was the realization that I think we are both in agreement on our philosophy of the performance of improv.

Her comment stemmed from my forwarding of the very "method" or "process" I am discussing in this series. I think she prefers a more organic approach to the instruction process, where the 2 improvisers are putting their concentration on each other and the unfolding relationship between them.

I'm actually in agreement with that philosophy - especially in performance, but I did have to reflect a little in my head about the statement because she's right - I don't really teach that.

Here are my thoughts on the subject. I don't teach that not because I don't think it's important, because I think it's very important. I think any improviser worth their salt should study with instructors who teach them that, and they should keep improving those capabilities within themselves. And frankly sometimes, I teach just that. But I will admit that the RV method is more skill, drill and technique based. I think that's okay. There are many who teach masterfully the art of really connecting on a deep level with your scene partner to find the essence of the scene. This is a very important and integral skill for an improviser to learn. But much of the work (and reason) for the RV method is to increase the capacity of the improviser to be able to do just that - coming at it from a different perspective. If 2 improvisers connect with each other and the story unfolds successfully through their committed and trusting experience with each other - more power to them. That's great. The reason I have developed these specific strategies is that sometimes that urge or desire to relate in such a way to a scene partner is not so easy - not so organic.

So teachers develop different techniques that can help improvisers get to that place. My improv philosophy is similar to some of the acting techniques taught by Meisner and others. Meisner works with some pretty strict drills to develop skills that "grow" an actor. When it is time to "act" on the stage, Meisner has been the first to say "throw out the drills." Set aside any consciousness of 'working' a technique or strategy. Be in the moment with your scene partner. Let the experience be organic. I say the same thing here. We don't want your performance of improv to look formalized or formulaic, or stilted with the spine of technique showing through. In performance, it's time to throw the schooling out the window and to get into a zone of truth.

These techniques, skills and strategies I'm discussing in this series are meant for the workshop, the laboratory, the rehearsal room. The idea is that they affect how the creative mind works, so that when you hit the stage with your scene partner, the magic of improv results organically.

Another great analogy is that of sports. I'm a big basketball fan so I'll use that as my metaphor. When Kobi Bryant is working on his game it is very regimented and systematic, looking at and analyzing all the parameters of good play - stance, balance, breathing, focus, visioning - and repetition. Shoot one hundred free throws one after another. Run the drills, work on the skills.
But when it's game time, you throw all that out and play with heart, commitment and joy - and you trust that all that stuff you worked so hard at in preparation will help you excel in the present moment, when your focus is on the dribble at hand, the drive in process, the present game and the energies that surround this moment in time.

These techniques I offer here will help any improviser be better at what they do. But it is not the only way for an improviser to proceed or study either. You should be open to all kinds of trainings and teachings, and in my opinion, you should be especially open to skills, strategies and philosophies that seem the most uncomfortable. At least check it out and give it a try. If a technique you are studying still doesn't resonate with you after giving it a try, you are welcome to move on to another option that might work better for you.

So again, the RV method (or any method for that matter) is just an additional option - one more tool in your kit, to help train you (and your creative mind) to be better prepared when you hit the stage, and to be better connected to your partners in improv crime at any and every moment.

More RV method to come very soon.