In thinking about improvisation, your mind might immediately conjure up images of a comedian spitting out verbal slings, moving from one audience member to the next in a spitfire cadence of crowd work; or perhaps, you might imagine those musicians whose sheer force of improvisational will craft jazz, a genre of music most synonymous with improv.
Strictly speaking, any dialogue is a form of improvisation where two or more individuals’ ideas evolve naturally over the course of a conversation. This article is being improvised word by word, with deletions and edits happening on the fly, as focus shifts from one notion to another and the central thesis becomes clearer as the page is being filled.
Famed producer Irwin Winkler in a Washington Post article said, Martin Scorsese “has the freedom of improvising . . . like a jazz musician,” and highlighted the director’s experience and nuance, each required for improvisation in any particular field. Subsequent skills that also help to guide improv are courage, confidence and trust in your partners.
There is often a magical spark between individuals work-shopping within their medium, brainstorming and spit-balling, until separate words or notes meld into a singular creative expression. Participating in improvisation is an important tool for allowing everyone’s creative juices to flow when jamming on stage or rehearsing on set or even working in an office together. Improvisation can help to hone creative abilities that don’t often get utilized and can aid in developing the skills necessary to adapt to quick changes in focus or direction. It’s a muscle that should be flexed when possible. As an artist is improvising there’s an inherent freedom behind every decision, all powered by the thought that any direction explored can lead down an unexpected road of creativity.
What if it went deeper than that? Imagine that road leading to a collection of artists from all disciplines coming together in an effort to celebrate, or shine a light, on a particular cause.
The Improv Show creates in a wholly new way an opportunity for these creative powerhouses to flex their improv muscles as a tool for community outreach. Performers won’t be working within their own comfort zones; actors won’t just be given a scenario to jump from, musicians won’t be able to simply play their instruments, poets won’t will need to do more than write from a prompt. Instead, all of the creators within these distinct fields will be working together on teams in a competitive improvisational event. After being presented with a theme the teams will have an opportunity through cooperation, collaboration and creativity to make spontaneous art in front of a live audience.
This is the very essence of improv on a meta scale, where an entertainer must not only look into their own area of expertise for inspiration but must also meld that idea into the folds of another artist’s work, who is simultaneously molding their own creation so that it seamlessly intertwines with that of their partners. It’s perhaps an ouroboros of art where the individual sects of material being created then blend into themselves in order to make something entirely new.