Tuesday, June 16, 2009



People go to the theatre to see heightened storytelling. In our everyday lives, we pretty much only touch people with whom we have an emotional connection.

That said, we must touch each other onstage! I've seen far too many scenes where two people are standing next to each other like peas on a drum and talking about the past or an activity that is yet to be.

It's your job as an actor/improvisor to connect, bond, and create/develop the trust that is needed to get everyone where we need to go in order to create a shared story. Obviously, everyone has personal boundaries which should be respected, but it's our job as actors to push beyond what is comfortable. Real life isn't safe from risk, therefore in improv we should create a safe place to take the risks we wouldn't dare in life.

In a recent dress rehearsal, I had the experience of having to leap and be caught by one of two fellow improvisors. In that split second, I had to make the call that one would catch me. I chose the one whom I thought could handle it, and he did (repeatedly). This took a level of trust that I had not previously explored with this player. Afterwards, I expressed my thanks for his commitment to the scene and to my safety. Now, after having taken the risk with this player, I feel that I can trust him even more and feel safer making physical acting choices (not my strength) with him onstage.

In real life, (I love that phrase) one does not, for the most part, jump on people. In theatre, however, we as actors are expected to take those leaps so the audience can experience risk through us. Through touch, we players illustrate the simple pleasure of sweethearts holding hands for the first time, the loving embrace of long lost brothers, and the tender kiss from a parent to sick child. On the other side, it is also the caress of an impatient lover, the slap of a bully, and the death blow of an assassin. We are the storytellers of what the audience wants to see, and with improv, they have a stake in choosing the adventure.

When in a troupe, it is your job to learn to trust both yourself and your fellow players to go beyond your normal frame of expression. When that door is open, the possibilities of where the story can go are endless. 

No comments: