Saturday 11 January 2014

Free-Form Improv: escapade one

The longing for free-form improv. The often misused phrase was experienced today. Therefore, the article is in response to that and addressing my desires to the utmost. I started improvising in search of entering the stage with nothing and still succeeding. Free-form improv is that, to its closest relative. People use it to suggest their set is structureless, 'free of form,' but if you know anything about your set it has a structure. The structure of scene followed by scene etc. is a structure. Even if we look at what today was for me, to attempt to make it clear what it was, with the free-form long-form cross-art improvisation, we had a structure. We had people with known skill sets and others that have experienced them as well as their strengths in one room. Our structure was these combined skills taking place for a set time, and to my amazement it gave one production, one show. We knew that we were going to explore these skills to offer an hour, or just under, of art.

In the end, whatever you do, there is a structure: The structure of people. In today's jam, we found out quickly what people enjoy doing and what people can do. This means we know that one person is more likely to initiate one type of performance element, on-stage or off-stage, and therefore accustomed to that we build our comfort or what is thus our structure.

I would like to offer what I offered the group back. After some thought and typing, I came up with these notes. I quickly ackownledge that not being the director or just watching the jam meant that I have limited ability to give fully accurate notes. They are hardly notes, more positive re-inforcements and worries about elements spoken about at the end of the jam.

My thoughts on the jam today, obviously being in it means that my notes are not completely accurate, but these are from my perceptions and feelings on it.

The level of listening to each other physically, verbally and meta-communicatively was probably at a decent 90%. [Following each other, following the show - an article on the latter is coming soon.]

The insistent play ran the whole production. This omni-directional play enabled us to jam. Our play with rhythms of interactions with the music, with each other and with the production as a whole. The greatest element of all improvisation is play.

The flow was supported by the use of grouped activity, again the engagement with another in playfulness with using a mirrored perspective, point of view or action.

The main element that helped form a cohesive piece was the running riffs [in all senses, action, melody, 'bits']. These elements and 'bits' offered the whole jam re-incorporation. The use of re-incorporation or callbacks is the sweetest way to get a laugh or purely state our piece/restate our piece. "When we say (or do) something, it exists." Razowsky, when we say it again we make it important. We did this, and this formed our themes of the production. I have no idea why people didn't feel that, but the fact is it was acted upon. We gained cohesion through themes.

People offered bold choices in using their skills. People gave strong offers in supporting others, and even stronger offers in letting people be there alone. It is often difficult to not go in.

Also, people gave a level of building collaboratively to heighten and make more of what has just occurred. Using what is there is a fundamental element to improvising and people did do what they had been, more.

We used games and patterns to help with the fun, the heightening and the play.

The group dynamics presented a co-operative ensemble of various talents in each person that allowed each person to endeavour to meet other people's skills. This clearly assists with the aim to produce live art in free-form long-form cross-art improvisation.


- Shared Skillsets

- Strong Play

- Re-incorporation

- Clarity of themes (for me it was clear)

- Grouped activity, a sense of ensemble and togetherness through mirroring

- Bold choices, in entering with skills, not entering and supporting

- Not letting shit drop, not losing threads

We need to:

- Allow improvisation to continue to happen - not get scared or complacent

- More listening: volume, interrupting, ignoring

- Trust the endeavour is enough

- Acknowledge each time can and will be vastly different
I hope this makes sense and offers insight into my desir with improvisation. This is unedited and done in response to today's activities.

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