“Discovery beats invention!” — Bart Van Loon, 2nd July 2015, Milan (IT)
Good improv happens when stories or scenes are discovered by the actors. Discovered, as opposed to invented or created.
Inventing or creating stuff is a cognitive process which happens in your head. You can do it by yourself or you can use some kind of muse (to which you don’t give anything back). It requires you to dig into your memories and experiences of other times and other places.
Improv on the other hand, is a group process involving giving and receiving. It requires you to be in the moment, to tap into the here and now only.
Even a good solo improviser will stay alert and get surprised by him- or herself. And the musician. And the audience. (also see: On solo scenes)
Don’t say: “I’m an improviser, I make things up”, since making up stuff is precisely what we should not be doing.
“Decide it, name it, and get it over with.” — Jacob Bannigan, 24th November 2014, Brussels (BE)
This is especially true for solo’s, but counts everywhere. Do everybody a favour and decide quickly on naming everything that’s unclear in the scene.
“The only thing that has to be perfect is your confidence.” — Rod Ben Zeev, 8th November 2014, Barcelona (ES)
In solo scenes, but perhaps everywhere else too, the audience doesn’t want to see you fail. They of course enjoy your struggle, but in the end will feel uncomfortable if you don’t radiate absolute confidence in what you’re doing.
Be confident, and everything else will follow. It’s a question of trusting in yourself, of course.
“The secret lies in the surprise.” — Rod Ben Zeev, 8th November 2014, Barcelona (ES)
During a workshop on solo scenes, it was made clear that there is a big need for surprise. That’s where the secret lies to keep on improvising, instead of starting to simply make things up.
Listen carefully to yourself. Maybe you make a slip of the tongue? Feel your body. Are you well balanced or perhaps about to fall?