“Truth is better than realism.” — Marko Mayerl, 17th October 2016, Hamburg (DE)
Improv as a stage art form allows us improvisers to do almost anything we want. All too often however, we limit ourselves to overly realistic portrayal of our characters and their lives. I think it might be because of an overdose of television and movies we are consuming, making us forget the power of theatricality.
Make it bigger! We should use all of our body and voice to deliver our message to our audiences. Think of the stage as a canvas to paint on rather than a set to play in.
Dance! Sing! Bring us inner monologues! Jump around! Lose yourself completely in dilemma’s, emotions and beautiful moments. Go for choregraphic gestures to engage the audience into the inner world of the character.
Use everything you have to portray the truth for your character and don’t let yourself be limited by that dirty thing called realism.
“Sing the song and play the scene” — Heather Urquhart, 7th November 2014, Barcelona (ES)
In opera, there is story progression during the songs, but in most musicals, time stands still while you’re singing and the other characters can’t hear you. Don’t hold sang conversations and don’t create problems while singing. At most, make a big, important decision with your song (like solving a dilemma).
“Ending a song is not the same as stopping singing.” — Heather Urquhart, 7th November 2014, Barcelona (ES)
Always remember to properly end a song. Create some extra drama, improvise a choreographic gesture, repeat the last line a few times, … There are many options, but don’t just stop singing and leave the stage. You’re in there together with the musicians until the very end of the song.
“Only start singing when words aren’t enough; buy the singing rights to the story” — Heather Urquhart, 7th November 2014, Barcelona (ES)
When performing a long form musical, or even in a simple standalone scene, don’t just start singing off the bat. Prepare your character, partners and audience for your song.
Try to convey your message with words first, and only if you feel that your character’s emotion is stronger than words or actions can describe, start singing.