It is only one week ago that I stepped out on stage to do the last show of the wonderful improvisation festival “IMPRO Amsterdam”. But right now it feels more and more like a distant dream, lingering just out of reach. Yet, only two days in to the festival it felt like it would never end. It was an intense and emotional week that will take some time to process.
Each year the IMPRO Amsterdam festival creates a mixed ensemble by putting together representatives of different impro groups around the world. This ensemble of international improvisers then spend the week teaching workshops and playing shows together on the main stage. Each group also gets a slot to showcase their own format.
This year the ensemble consisted of representatives from: Big Bang (USA), Folie á Deux (UK), Gbgimpro (Sweden), Os Improváveis (Portugal), Patti Stiles (Australia), Picnic Impro (Colombia + Canada) and the Dutch cast who are chosen through an audition process.
I’m very thankful for getting the opportunity to be part of the ensemble this year, to rehearse with, play with and befriend all of the other cast members as well as the other improvisers coming to perform at the late night shows or take workshops. Lots of laughter, great impro, inspiring talks about equality on stage and eating a lot of snacks… and hummus!
Speaking of workshops: I taught my workshop Dynamic Scene work and had the most wonderful group of improvisers as participants, they all committed themselves with such a positive energy that they inspired me to be more dynamic in my teaching: reinventing and revitalizing many of my exercises and ideas, running around the room fanning the flame of their passion for the work!
It was such a joyful workshop to teach, and really reinforced my belief in the mindset of engaged, playful curiosity. And it gave me great momentum for this weeks teaching, both for the weekly beginner classes that I’m doing and for today and tomorrow as I teach a full weekend of how to approach playing short form in my workshop “Games – Serious Play”.
The personal journey of teaching, playing shows and hanging out with the all the wonderful people at the festival is enough to make anyone’s day of course. It is however even more rewarding to think of how a group of people from different countries and different backgrounds can come together and generate so much creativity and joy. In a world that sometimes feels very bleak and dark this week was for me a good reminder of how fun and bright the world is when we just open our arms, connect and play… and harmonize the hell out of a high school musical number!
An unrelated but related story: I was watching YouTube-clips the other day (how did this become an activity that we just do now?! Oh well, that’s for another blog post…) and I stumbled across a few clips from American comedian Jeff Ross. He is mostly known for participating in so called Roasts: An event where a panel of comedians take turns insulting a famous guest for two hours, the guest then gets a few minutes to insult them back and the show is over. I have never really understood the greatness of such a show format, but then I saw a clip from Jeff Ross where he was visiting a prison and roasting the prisoners. Now, this sounds equally dumb, I know. But he mixed the insult comedy with a few simple questions of such honesty and humanity that this silly comedy performance portrayed prisoners as regular people and had me feel for them, better than any journalistic portrayal I’ve seen in long while. Once again showing the importance of connecting and playing…
Here is a link to one short clip (unfortunately most of the longer clips I saw seem to have disappeared from YouTube since I saw them): https://youtu.be/-8nSrQ6L9EE
Thanks for reading, see you on stage!