Slapdash: P is for “Promise”Posted: 21 May 2013
From the A to Z of Slapdash:
4. P is for “Promise”
This year’s Slapdash promises to be effing ace.
But what the eff does that promise mean? What can we realistically expect? The promises that are made to an improv audience seem to me to be of a different order to those made in almost any other artform. By definition, nothing is guaranteed in advance. The audience is invited to put their trust in an atmosphere of almost pure potentiality. The promise of “expect the unexpected” doesn’t go far enough in describing it, as the improvisers are not setting out to surprise, especially – their choices will often be wonderfully, deliriously obvious ones.
But not always entirely obvious. The simple promise of “you call it – we’ll sing it” doesn’t do improv much justice either, as even with the most rigid show and game formats, the joy of the performance lies somewhere over and above the mechanics of the scene, rather than the straightforward fulfilment of a performance challenge. (You could describe all these formats in detail to an improv virgin and not even touch on what makes improv magical.)
It isn’t any particular expectations that improvisers ask of audiences, but open expectations. Open expectations and open promises: this is a tough sell from a marketing point of view, but it uniquely involves the audience in a collaborative discovery of what the improvisation promises, in that exact moment. In no other artform that I can think of is the audience invited to share the fulfilment of a promise so intimately. I find that collaboration to be joyful, which is why I have no hesitation in personally promising you that this year’s Slapdash will bring you joy.
On that note, take it away, Tracy Chapman: