Cross-posted from Merrilee's blog.

Living in improvland (and never wanting to leave)

I have been living in improvland for five days now.
My days consist of:
7:30ish - wake up and curse the nearby construction noises (and the sun)
9:30ish - head to the theatre for forum of the day
2pm - workshop of the day
5pm - dinner
7:30ish - show
10pm - head to watering hole to talk yet more improv til the wee hours
2-3am - get to sleep.

It's literally mind altering. In improvland, everything is possible and is worth doing. Games can be played at any moment. Jokes, smiles and hugs are part of every conversation. Fast friends are made and it's lovely. In improvland, the real world is to be ignored if at all possible.

After my last post, I was actually invited to play in the Inspired by Strindberg show. The short version of my experience is that I will remember it always.

I had so many discoveries throughout the show. I felt reaffirmed as a performer, whilst also being delighted and surprised by my fellow cast members. I find it hard to accurately describe in words how much I felt inspired onstage, as well as heartbroken by the wonderful story that was told. For the first time ever, I cried real tears onstage! I've re-lived that moment over and over since it happened, and I'm still unsure where it came from. I guess that I was just 100% there.

The plot (in a nutshell) centered around two families who were to be joined by a daughter (Olga) and son (Pieter) getting married. The sub-plots revealed that:

  • Pieter was cheating on his fiance (and was generally a prick)
  • Long-time servant Olaf was in love with Olga (who had no idea, of course)
  • Olga's father had had a relationship with Pieter's mother
  • The families generally hated each other (think the Montagues and Capulets)
Olaf (played by Felipe Ortiz) was entirely lovable and innocent, and obviously the 'right guy' for Olga. What transpired between them was a heartbreaking scene where Olaf questioned Olga about her love for Pieter, whilst secretly wishing to profess his own. Later, Olaf saw Pieter liaising with Anya (another servant). There was a scream in the night and the last scene showed Olga discovering Olaf after hanging himself.

There was an audible gasp from the audience when this was revealed. I met multiple audience members who left the theatre deeply moved by the play, many still sobbing. It took me a couple of hours (and several debriefing conversations!) to come down myself. 

I am still reeling from the fact it was all made up right then and there. The play felt and looked like a scripted show. Every character played an essential role. It felt effortless! It highlighted to me the possibilities for improvisation that can so often easily be forgotten. We can do convincing drama that shows real emotion, using theatrical conventions. 

I am deeply and profoundly moved, and I will never forget this show. 

I am honoured that I could play my part in telling the story. My thanks to Per for casting me, and massive thanks (and admiration) to my fellow cast members Rama, Felipe, Glenn, Jenny, Cathy, Nick, Randy, plus Kettil and Tristan on music.

I feel more convinced than ever that I don't just like improv, but I actually need it in my life. It's a really deep feeling right in the guts (so to speak).