Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Ready.... Set.... Improvise!


In my experience, there are two kinds of actors: Those who prepare and those who do not. In this regard, one might say that being an improvisor is exactly the opposite of what makes a good actor, as improvisors have to do the unplanned and your average actor must go through tons of planning with blocking, direction and memorization to get things just so.

However, contrary to what some may have you believe, the unplanned work of the improvisor is not the same thing as being unprepared. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. There are improvisors/actors who think that they can manage to pull off a great performance by sucking down a cigarette and downing a shot or a coffee just before going onstage. Some might say that this is acceptable and professional, but when one wants to create art that's entirely another matter.

To improvise well, one must be prepared to be called upon to possibly reflect the entire scope and range of the human experience in one performance... to sing, to dance, soliloquize, shout, romance, comfort, command, etc. etc.... and to generally win over the audience with dazzling skill. Such an endeavor must be supported by good technique of voice and body, but also with a connectedness with the other performers.

Therefore, to be a good improvisor/actor, one must take care to prepare. If you choose not to prepare, which is entirely your choice, you then, are vulnerable, not without hope, but certainly without the advantage that tuning your instrument can bring. Cockiness and surface charm might get the audience's attention, but demonstrating your talent and commitment to the art of performance through skill and authentic expression will win their respect and loyalty. And they'll remember you and come back for more.

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