Juggling my improv balls

Last night at my musical improv class I was part of a scene that worked. I mean, it was funny and it held together and it was fun for everyone (me, partner, audience). It was one of those rare moments where everything falls together and it just is. It’s a great feeling. I think one of the reasons I’ve stuck with improv is that it can happen anytime at all, no warning, and yet there’s no way to make it happen. It’s always a gift.

In the past when I’ve had those moments, times that I’ve realized I actually just did decent work and it all came together and it was fun, there has been a feeling that I wasn’t making choices or thinking. I was just doing and it was right. And that’s remarkable and wonderful and intoxicating.

Last night, however, was different. My mind was moving fast. There was no sense of being out of control or of just going with it. Quite the opposite, in fact. I was making choices and thinking out options. “Oh, I need to match his character right now. A peg leg suits this scene. He’s just shown that’s dusty, I should sneeze. Dropping a coin down the hole will be funny but not distract from what he is saying.” On and on like that.

For me improv has always been one of two things. Sometimes, 95% of the time, my mind is spinning with all the things I need to do and tensing up in panic. Trying to keep all the improv balls in the air, trying to remember all the things I’m supposed to be doing to make this thing work, and knowing that I’m dropping things because I can’t keep watch on all of them at once.

About 4.95% of the time it is me deciding to ignore all those things and “be in the moment”, which tends to go even worse and leads to me ignoring my partners and being utterly boring and not making any choices. About .05% of the time are those rare scenes I mentioned before, where I’m actually in the moment and it all comes together without thought.

Having my mind going 90 to nothing and yet not being consumed by the thoughts was a weird experience. It’s hard to put into words. There was no self-consciousness, no sense of judging what I, or he, had done, and yet a complete awareness of it. There was no franticness to the scene, but it didn’t drag either. I felt like my mind was in two parts and one part was feeding ideas and choices to the other part, which did them.

I just realized as I was writing those words- this is the first time I’ve felt like I was juggling all the balls. Not all the improv balls there are, goodness. But all the ones I gave myself. I’ve been doing improv for 21 months now and I’ve been frustrated because I’ve yet to have that “ah ha” moment that comes along when you are learning a new skill and you suddenly realize you are doing it instead of thinking about doing it. I had that last night. For the first time I was holding onto a character (voice and posture both) and doing space work and adding to the scene and listening to my partner- and I was doing it all by making active choices yet not realizing in the moment that I was making them.

Dang.

Aside

I’m back

As you can see, blogging is a habit that is not coming easy for me.

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This is not really a post, it’s more of a notice that posts are coming.

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