You don’t have to talk to a long-form improviser for very long to realize that we wholly and truly feel as though our work is important; not only important for art, but important for humans. We are a secret society of listeners, liars and lovers and all you need do to join in is be 110% willing. We hold the power to create as a community. We are not hapless victims of some happy accident. We are at the center of the impending catastrophe, the engine inside the tractor-trailer barreling toward oncoming traffic with no brakes, just trust. We fear nothing, we judge no one, we accept everything, we assume, we justify, we build, we deconstruct. We demand excellence and laud failure… our only pet-peeve is mediocrity. Like proud parents we watch as our audiences become geniuses and poets. We hope for the best and prepare for even better and never bail on each other.
We profoundly care about each other. Not only in a lovey-dovey-huggy-kissy-kinda way, in a real way that is much more significant. Like the way my Grampa Sal used to throw line drives directly at my head to teach me the importance of keeping my eye on the ball and subsequently how to duck. I got hit a couple times but the fear of it made me a better player. By game-time, as soon as that ball left the pitcher’s hand and it grew nearer and nearer I realized I couldn’t lose because Gramps wasn’t teaching me about baseball at all, he was playing with me, really playing and the fact that I was participating in life was all that mattered.
As theatrical improvisers every time we step on stage we have an opportunity to create entire worlds in an instant, building on each micro-moment, paying careful attention, listening effectively, reacting honestly, moving with specificity and daring physicality as we fill our audiences minds and hearts with colorful characters, imaginative locations, powerful relationships, witty dialogue and compelling stories. These stories in the form of interconnected brief scenes have never been written into scripts nor will they ever need to be directed or further analyzed for their accuracy or intent. In fact they will never be seen or heard from again. This is my art, living in each moment, taking nothing for granted and treating even the most obvious mistakes, be they mine or others perpetrated against me, as gifts. Theatrical improvisation combines as many of the disciplines of the performing arts as its practitioner has in their spectrum of capability. In a single evening an improviser may find themselves singing, dancing, and practically doing acrobatics all the while channeling the emotions and energy of so many different people then wholly portraying them in countless scenarios. We write, direct, produce, compose, choreograph and perform each piece in real time, as it is happening. Pioneer of modern American improvised performance Del Close compared it to building a 747 from scratch… in mid-flight! It's both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. It requires every bit of your concentration yet contradicts itself in that you must also be willing to not think at all but to simply… be.
I have been improvising professionally for over 20 years. I have been lucky enough to perform in front of live audiences all over the US and parts of Europe but my favorite place to perform is in whatever city I call home. It is there that I can not only create freely but as an artist answers the call of responsibility, hold the mirror up to society and reflect what the world does, can, might, should and could look like. For my part as an improviser I perform, conceptualize, theorize, produce, coach and teach. With some of the most dedicated people I’ve ever met I get to discover, share, listen, collaborate and nurture ideas and thoughts.