My improv friend says "thumbs up" to spontaneity.
Last weekend a girlfriend and I headed to the mountains for a "girls only" getaway. There was only one rule to this trip -- to be spontaneous. I figured I was ahead of the game as in the past I'd have downloaded maps, outlined hiking routes, checked the listings for calendar events and then color coded everything in an itinerary, so we'd know exactly what we'd be doing at any given moment. I threw some gear, some clothes and some wine into the car and away we went.
The drive up was full of maybes. Maybe we'd use the snowshoes. Maybe we'd see a live band. Maybe we'd meet some cool people. But neither one of us really knew as we were both sticking to our rule. It dawned on me that this kind of attitude is one that usually accompanies a youth and a responsibility-free lifestyle. I have a mortgage, a car payment and a responsible job, so what gives? Well improv, of course.
When I first started taking improv classes I would orchestrate every exercise. I'd plan outcomes for every scene. I'd even develop plots for scripts that didn't exist. Why? Because that is what most of us do in our lives. We plan. We schedule. We set goals. In improv, none of this is applicable. In fact, it's detrimental. The first 20 minutes of every class, workshop or rehearsal is spent in a desperate attempt to rid our heads of this kind of thinking. In fact, the ideal scenario is to not think at all. Imagine having the opportunity to shed ourselves of everything mental that makes us age!
Improv allows us luxuries that we're hard pressed to find elsewhere. We clear our minds of the daily garbage that clogs us. We are spontaneous with our words and actions. We are present in the moment and have no use for the past or future. And, we get back to the natural joy of being a kid when we played, and didn't censor. Honestly, watch a kid at play -- there's no room for clutter as the game at hand is what the world is all about at that instant.
So one of us used snowshoes and one of us did not. Neither of us saw a band. But, both of us met some really fun people that we wouldn't have come across if we'd been buried in maps and guidebooks. I thanked improv for making me a kid again despite my responsibilities. I'm headed to the beach now. Who knows what I might find when I get there but whatever it is, game on!
For more info:
Check out some other ruminations about the spontaneity of improv via the Bovine Metropolis Theater's blog: http://www.bovinemetropolis.com/wordpress/
Or via Atlanta’s Godfather of Improv: http://atlantaimprov.com/?p=9