Different people playing together with different styles and behaviours is what makes impro interesting and surprising to me at the moment.
Some people pick up on verbal offers, some emotional offers, some physical offers. Some people play games, some like stories, some like relationships. Some like impro as one big character exercise. Some like quiet, some loud, some quick, some slow.
The simplicity of agreement and support in impro is what can hold this collection of different people together as one.
Different performers have different strengths, and together this can create a strong show. I enjoy watching this in Austentatious. In any moment one of them will be establishing who what where, one will be playing a nice physical environment, one will be playing a strong real character, and another will be being a big fun clowny character, and another will have an eye on the story. It looks seemless to the audience because they work together so well, and it’s the differences in the team that enable them to create a greater whole.
Sometimes when a team strives to find one overall style or type of player they accidentally end up missing the variety of performers, and also the performers stop surprising each other on stage.
I quite like having no idea what someone is going to do. Because of this I’ve been having a lot of fun improvising in various jams recently (The Playground, Yes Ampersand, Music Box). It’s thrilling to go up on stage with someone you don’t even know and improvise from scratch. It’s vunerable too, you suddenly have no format or shared knowledge or previous pattern of behaviour, and the simplicity of impro is all you have. I love it.
People who have recently started impro get up on stage from the audience and improvise something from nothing. That’s beautiful.
So long live the jams! Long live the variety! And long live the unexpected!
Blog by Steve Roe, co-founder of Hoopla Improv, courses, shows and improv club.