Pretty good session at Iron Clad Improv tonight, with three new people (all of whom took a loyalty card, so in theory that’s a pretty good sign). While the Sunday night sessions are for all intents and purposes drop-ins, meaning that anyone can rock up on any Sunday, or indeed miss out on any number of Sundays without losing out or getting lost, I do try to have some sort of soft ‘umbrella theme’ stretching over a period of roughly four weeks or so every so often, in order to focus our minds on whatever improv challenge or problem that’s currently cropping up a lot in class. So far this year, in the first few sessions back, we’ve mainly just been doing short form stuff in order to ease ourselves back into the groove, which has been fun. Now things are beginning to click back into place, and it looks like (with not a great deal of surprise) that our focus in the first part of 2015 will be a return to basics on the so-called Three Rules Of Improv: listen/say yes/commit.
I find these three rules of improv endlessly fascinating. They are always the same, and yet at the same time, constantly fluid. I find new things in them roughly three times a year, the more I act, direct and write. They are both as bluntly simple as they first appear, and vastly more complicated. They mean just what they say, and are always changing. Yes, I’m aware that this sounds vastly pretentious, and I’ll probably be able to explain myself better once I get my groove on with this blog and write entries more regularly, but generally I think what I’m saying about improv – and by extension, writing, or acting, or directing – really, any kind of storytelling – is that you can’t get to the end of learning how to do it. Once you’ve ‘worked it out’, you’re screwed, because of course, once you’ve learned all there is to learn, you can no longer be taught. For me, teaching (and learning) about improv is much like going into a darkened library with a candle. With the light of the candle you see this book, and that book .. and you read those, and find them delightful. So you pick up a few more. And a few more. And because the library is dark, and because you’ve only got the candle to light your way, it takes you a while to discover (and this you will constantly forget) that the library is vast, the perimeter far far away from your reach, the candle lighting the here and now, and simply suggesting what has passed, and what lies in the future.
This weekend, we’ve been getting the last few entries for our next Cast Iron night, which will be at the end of March. This means we have to read the plays pretty damn quickly, in order to get them cast and assigned to a director, hopefully before the end of this week. All this while trying to finish my own ten minute play, this for the NVT evening of short plays, the deadline for which is this week.