The Spirit of Improv
Blog by Steve Roe, co-founder of Hoopla Improv, courses, shows and improv club. Twitter: @HooplaImpro. Facebook: HooplaImpro. Website: www.HooplaImpro.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are structural things to improv, the things that hold a show together and enable people to work together as a team, but underlying that is the spirit of improv.
Here’s what the spirit of improv means to me at the moment, written in no particular order as it comes to me:
An audience is watching, your friend walks on stage and does something, you have no idea what they are doing, you jump on and join them anyway. You’ve never done any acting or improv or anything like that before, you sign up to an impro workshop anyway, you feel terrified on the day but you walk into the room anyway and throw yourself into it. You go and watch a jam, they ask for people to sign up, you weren’t going to but you sign up anyway, you end up performing with someone you’ve only just met on stage. You ask for a genre from the audience, they shout out “French new wave” or something, you have no idea what that it is but do it anyway. You’re doing a show that seems bigger than you were expecting, you feel nervous back stage but run on stage anyway and throw caution to the wind. You’re doing a show that seems smaller than you were expecting, you feel nervous back stage but run on stage anyway and throw caution to the wind. You have a choice between doing the show that you feel safe in and the show that you’re not sure about but excites you, you do the latter show, or both. You do the shows and things you love. You see someone do an amazing scene and rather than feel jealous you walk up to them and tell them how much you loved it. You get a room with some people you’ve just met in a workshop and attempt to create something beautiful with them. You put on a show in a small room above a pub in your hometown to friends and family using games you’ve only read about in a book and play them your own way. You go to the South Bank and do something on the streets just because. You jump in with emotion or movement so you haven’t got time to think. You make it your job to support everything that gets said right from the start. You bring biscuits to a room of improvisers that weren’t expecting them. The audience gives a suggestion, nobody goes on stage, the lights shine brightly, you don’t have any idea what to do, but go on stage anyway. You feel so connected to your team that it’s like time slows down. You’re not sure what you’re doing, you’re going through an improv slump, you turn up anyway and get on stage and have fun anyway. You’re back stage and one of your cast looks nervous, you give them a hug and make them smile. You’re in story, someone says something that you don’t understand, you back them up and support the hell out of everything.