If nobody is seeing it, I don’t think it is theatre. It can be a theatre rehearsal, of course. Or a workshop. But theatre can only exist with an audience there to experience it. And with improv, this is even more true. We are nothing without the audience. Hopeless perhaps.
It is certainly not a coincidence that I am writing again about the audience. Recently I played with the talented Dona Ursu in our duoshow Close Quarters. During the premiere of our show a couple months ago I fell in love with those people on the other side of the theatre. And they charmed me again.
My Rumanian/Belgian improv partner and I had been invited to Festival des Z'elles: an all female improv festival in France. L’Improvidence, a cute and brand new improv theatre in the center of Lyon, organized it. Any improviser would be as inspired as I was by the venue, the organizing team (Thomas and Péroline) and the festival itself. Trust me: go there.
The festival lasted for 6 days and we were their first English show ever. We were programmed after a group of energetic female improvisers playing a shortform show. There we spotted 2 talented musicians who we asked to join us in the second half. They said yes. (Don’t you just love yes-sayers?)
Together with Melody, Julien and Viggo, our Norwegian tech, two delightful stories were created on the stage. This time we saw a young student meeting a bad boy and a middle-aged neighbor searching for her French love.
We enjoyed ourselves a lot during the show and invited the audience to come and talk to us afterwards. The response was incredibly flattering. And I don’t think this was a ‘French’ thing, these spectators were very specific about how they experienced it. Their reactions were so flattering that I got a bit uneasy.
One of the audience members told me it was the “best show he had ever seen”. And instead of ‘thank you’ (or ‘merci beaucoup’) I started to say things like: “Nóóóóó, of course not. Silly you. This was no t our best. Besides, there are many more improv shows out there that are way better. You know whom you should see…” and more of that.
But I shouldn’t have. It is not my place or my task to take away from his experience. This was the best he had ever seen. And that is a glorious moment.
I now realize: this could only have happened because he was there. There was something happening on the stage, there was something happening in himself and together… It was the best show ever.
Merci très beaucoup to Thomas en Péroline of L’Improvidence, our two musicians Melody and Julien, our tech Viggo, the lovely Lyon audience and Dona, who rocks. Hard.