Improv reviews

Discussion of the art and craft of improvisation.

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Improv reviews

Postby valetoile » August 16th, 2011, 5:54 am

Almost every improv review here in Edinburgh starts out with some version of "improv is hard!"

I would love to see a review of a scripted play that goes something like this:

"Memorizing a full ninety minutes worth of dialogue and blocking is very difficult. Bringing those written words to life as if they're being spoken for the first time, doubly so. Add to that coordinating the timing of several individuals, along with lighting and sounds cues, and this cast of performers has got their work cut out for them! However, they rise to the challenge admirably...."

I mean, I appreciate the recognition that good improv takes skill, that making it up doesn't mean we're lazy, that the chance (and sometimes actuality) of failure is part of what makes improv what it is. But still. I would love to see the day when reviewers and audiences have come to accept improv as more art than parlor trick. A lot of reviewers here seem to be impressed by how many gimmicks a group can put in their show, listing off like assets the number of ask-fors and trappings of form a group can fit in to a single longform show, as if recounting the dangerous and unwieldy objects a juggler can manage to keep in the air. A flaming chainsaw! An unrelated show title and location! Musical callbacks every 3 beats! 6 foot daggers!

What I long for is a deeper recognition of how improv really works- that it's not who can be funniest quickest with the most encumberments, but is instead an acute awareness as a group, a loving attention to detail, and a willingness to be vulnerable, open, and in the moment that make great improv, whatever the style or format, as well as a lot of work and practice beforehand.
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » August 16th, 2011, 8:47 am

in their defense, Val...writing reviews is really hard!

(but yes, agreed.)
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Postby Marc Majcher » August 16th, 2011, 10:16 am

The Bastard
Improv For Evil
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Postby mpbrockman » August 16th, 2011, 1:24 pm

Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell wrote:in their defense, Val...writing reviews is really hard!

Pah... reviewers are eunuchs in a harem. They know how it's done, they see it done every day - but they can't do it themselves.

And you want them to grasp the essence and nuances?

Love ya Val but, uh, good luck with that...

BTW - that is some lovely prose and some extraordinarily apt metaphors. A tip of the hat to your pen, er, keyboard...
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Postby jillybee72 » August 16th, 2011, 10:02 pm

We made a document for the Minnesota Fringe at their request to teach people how to review improv. I like how it turned out!
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Postby shando » August 17th, 2011, 12:11 am

Thanks for posting that Val. I couldn't agree with you more. And Jill, thanks for that how to review improv one-sheet.
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