Slapdash: A is for “Action”

I always think of improvisation as enhanced reality. What the audience sees created in front of them is actual. Any action that an improviser performs – to get angry, to sing a song, to leave the stage, to transform into a giant panda-demon – is simultaneously an action performed by the character. This is also the case with scripted comedy and theatre, but in improvisation we as audience get to witness all these choices ‘live’. Thus these actions take on a greater immediacy and significance. Oddly enough, this is particularly noticeable when it comes to dialogue.

In improv, words almost inevitably become actions.

I’m a keen believer in the primacy of action over words in improvisation. Even in improv that is static and wordy, it is the direct effect of those words over the other performers, and the audience, that delights me, not the semantics, subtext or interpretation. This is, I think, a result of a creative environment that relies on collaboration and generosity.

This primacy which we see on stage bleeds through into the real world. What I love about improvisers is their eagerness turn words into actions. Plans for shows turn into shows remarkably quickly. There is a haste to help out, to put things on their feet, to take risks and to realise someone else’s ideas without questioning them. Conceptualization and justification are postponed until afterwards.

This kind of activity will be especially rich during next week’s Slapdash Festival as a result of the unique combinations of talents that are being assembled. That’s what makes the Festival a starting point rather than a consolidation. I can’t wait to find out what happens.

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One Comment on “Slapdash: A is for “Action””

  1. cobrunstrom says:

    According to TIffany Stern, “rehearsal” as we know it is a post 19th century phenomenon. In Shakespeare’s theatre, only the prompter had a whole copy of the play. Everyone else had their “parts” – their own lines + a few prompt lines. I wonder if there isn’t something rather pleasantly “realistic” about this idea – while we may know what we plan to say in the course of the next couple of hours – in so called ‘real life’ – none of us know what others are going to say.


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