I have been doing improvisation for a while now, and the best thing I have learnt from it is living in the moment. You’re probably wondering what improvisation is. Improvisation is the process of creating a scene with other actors, spontaneously. That’s correct, no scripts, no preparation, just go up on stage and build a scene from scratch! It’s like a form of art.
It might sound really basic, but the key to good improv is active listening. Most of the time, we don’t really listen, we start thinking of the ‘next thing to say’ in our conversations. We have pre conceived notions about what the other person will say. All this detracts from good quality conversations, and of course good improv. Active listening is when we wholly and truly listen to what the other person/actor is saying. This means that every cell of our being, is listening and absorbing what the person is saying. In improv, what the other person says is an ‘offer’ and it is up to us to accept that offer and build the scene from there.
Another key concept is ‘happy failure’. We were made to throw a ball at each other and asked to deliberately miss the catch. We were then applauded for missing the catch and praised for failing. The whole idea behind this is that it is OK TO FAIL! Improvisers fail several times, but the best improvisers move on quickly and create something new.
I have many interesting things to write about improv, and in my coming few blog posts, I will talk about the specific activities we do in improv that have helped me live more in the moment.