“So we are going to improve in English?” one of the players asks me the night before the weekend intensive. I stammer a bit, because to be frank… I came to Portugal to teach improvised theatre, not the English language. I hope, at least.
Later I learn that the Portuguese pronounce the vowel O as OO (like in foot). So luckily, we indeed did improv in English. And perhaps a little improving in English on the side.
The participants differ quite a lot from each other: from a young actress with no impro experience to a very experienced producer. The Portuguese impro scene is quite young, they tell me: only 10 years. Most groups play in bars, hardly train, perform regularly and they are influenced by Spanish, South American and US trainers and books.
“This weekend is like candy for me”, one of the players tells me. He is not used to getting trained and just taking new input in. And input they sure got: we managed to explore 5 different longforms, both associative and narrative.
The first try would sometimes be a struggle: some frowning, some scratching of heads and then asking questions until they understood. It was for me extremely satisfying to see each second try of the longform structure. Leaping in and leaping forward!
Quickly I discover that, though lacking any longform experience, this group is a confident, playful bunch. They truly surprise me with their humor, physicality and keenness to learn. I see them do things that I have never seen in Holland. Especially at the end, I very much feel like joining them on the stage.