Anything is possible if properly handled. And it is your job to see how close to the line you can walk. Here are several simple lessons to move you into a successful creative experience. Avoid an abundance of easy choices that exist simply to shock. Easy, repeated sexual references confuse a scene’s point of view. Discard language and subject matter that serve no purpose or threaten the audience’s willingness to receive a message. Remember our audience is made up of family and friends. Understand that the audience will hear what they want, and be certain that you are saying what you mean.
A cool little essay on pulling the positives from an improv jam.
We have so many shows and only so much audience. Some nights, you’re looking out at a sea of empty chairs. I’m more empathetic when newer performers show frustration at light houses. It’s a reflection of their enthusiasm. But when I see a vet lumber onto the stage, half-giving a shit, I’m disappointed. It’s one thing to be ironically detached (which also sucks), and another to be metering out your work-rate out of entitlement or laziness.
I’ve taken art classes. One of the first things an Art 101 instructor has to do is get all these pretentious art students to put aside their preexisting “styles”— which have usually grown out of avoiding whichever art skills they struggle with— and learn how to draw like everyone else. Style will come later. For now, learn the rules… then you can break them, consciously & intentionally, instead of breaking them because you’re incapable of following them.
When I moved out to Boston from Chicago everyone kept talking about “the game of the scene” and I had no idea what they were talking about. Instead of playing “the game,” I was playing in the style I was taught—and experienced success at—back at iO in Chicago. I looked for relationship and emotional connection over a single focal point. And of course there’s overlap between the two (a scene with a strong game should also have strong relationships, and an emotional resonant scene should probably have some discernible pattern as well), but without fully understanding my new environment, I was making moves that, while theoretically “good,” weren’t connecting with the other members of my team who had been trained a different way. I was being an invasive species, incapable of adapting.
“I admire your calm spirit when you walk into the room,” he told me, “but you need to set that aside when you play the violin.” The thought of my quiet personality compromising my expression in music terrified me. And with that, my journey of growth began. Roger did not call me shy. He did not allow my personality to define my ability as a player. Roger showed me in this memorable observation that I am capable of playing out. He continues to teach me with his inspired mentorship that the tendencies of my personality are not linked to my abilities as a musician.
We are on a journey. And we are exactly where we need to be on the journey, as much as it sucks to hear that. The secret is to find joy in being where we are at this moment, while at the same time keeping our eye on the prize of where we want to be. This secret, this intention, is no small task. Personally, I know it will take me a lifetime of practice. But perhaps I can meet it with curiosity: What would it be like to be perfectly content with where I am right now on the journey?