I read a book maybe five years ago called Truth in Comedy. It is a highly-regarded guide to improv comedy. I remember being blown away by the idea of “Yes, and” which is a huge concept in improv — accepting what your troupe member offers you and building on it.
I saw this concept as highly relevant to life, as in, saying yes to what life hands me, and then responding to it. When I say no to what is, I become a little more rigid and a little less creative in how I respond to something unexpected, or possibly unexpected and undesirable.
After I read this book, I immediately contacted a friend who is in a local drama troupe. I wanted to offer a mixed class of improv and life application based on the concept of each class. I think my friend was super duper busy and/or the idea wasn’t particularly appealing to her because nothing ever came of it, even though I approached her more than once.
I kept my eyes open for some opportunity to try improv. About a year ago, I read about a monthly free jam and kept tryimg to figure out how to get to it. Between other babysitting needs and Greg traveling and being nervous about going downtown by myself at night, it just didn’t happen.
Finally this week some things fell into place and I dropped in for the first of a four-class series. Three hour class!
The first hour was a LOT of fun. The group of seven of us were almost all complete beginners, new to the craft. That was my first surprise; that there were others like me who had never tried it and who were willing to risk looking silly too.
The second hour the games got more complicated and I felt a brain fatigue that I recognized from times I have tried to do mentally fatiguing desk work. I wondered afterward if maybe there is a more heart-centered approach that I might take, rather than being so much in my head.
After a break, we did the third hour of practice. We each went through the process of acting out cooking a meal, setting the table, eating, amd cleaning up. I found this to also be mentally challenging as there are many factors to consider when one is pretending. If I open the pretend oven to put the pretend lasagna in, did I remember to close the pretend oven door or did I pretend cook my pretend lasagna with the oven door opem the whole time? Did I pull out a pretend oven mitt to get the lasagna out of the pretend oven or did it burn my hands?!
I suspect that when children pretend, they don’t get all hung up on those kinds of details. I’d like to try the exercise again with the playful attitude of a child. I wonder how the experience might differ.
By the end of class, I was surprisingly tired. I decided I will go to class next Sunday, if possible, before I make any decision about whether or not to complete the class.
I believe my Alexander Technique lessons are very relevant to what I am doing in the class and may help me address both the pbysical and mental fatigue.
All in all, I very much enjoyed the opportunity to finally try out this idea called improv.