I was in Barcelona to teach and perform at Barcelona Improv Group (B.I.G). Had a BLAST, what a great trip. But I also thought about being alone in this work.Read More
For the fourth episode of the Ohana Improv Podcast I spoke to Amir Atsmon, live from the streets of Tel Aviv in Israel. We talk about:
– what touring with a theatre project taught him;
– what the Israeli improv scene is like;
– how improv changed his life;
and much, much more.
For the third episode of the Ohana Improv Podcast I got the chance to pick the brain of Patti Stiles from Australia. We cover these topics:
– how she makes improv formats;
– why she prefers crunchy broccoli after soup, when it comes to improv;
– what her turning point in life was (of course it included Keith Johnstone);
and much, much more.
Wil je een leuke, frisse en inspirerende suggestie van je publiek? Stel dan een leuke, frisse en inspirerende vraag in plaats van het platgetreden 'mag ik een locatie?' Ik verzamelde 61 manieren om een suggestie te vragen.Read More
For the second episode of the Ohana Improv Podcast I had an interview with the charming Matt Schuurman, the new artistic director of Rapid Fire Theatre. We talk about:
– how he became the artistic director of Rapid Fire Theatre;
– how his work as a video designer influenced his improv;
– what his work with children has taught him;
and much, much more.
Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Tim Orr from San Francisco. We cover different topics relating to his improv practice, including:
– how his warm-up for a show looks like;
– what the turning point in his career was;
– how his background as a basketball coach influenced him as a trainer;
and much, much more.
A blog about the wonderful experience Dona Ursu and I had when playing Improv Show Close Quarters at an all female festival in Lyon.
And also some thoughts about being someone's best show ever and how to cope with that smile emoticonRead More
“You didn’t understand me, did you?”
I nodded along to a conversation in a very different dialect in a very loud bar. No, I did not get it. But I hoped you liked my smiling face….
The Dutch and the Flemish officially speak the same language. However, Flemish is a very particular dialect of the Dutch language with many different words. And the group I was training this weekend all spoke Flemish. Fast!
The 15 girls and 1 man of Majoretteketet invited me to train their improvisation skills. They are a marjorette club, dancing with their batons in parades. It is a form of performance art that is unfortunately dying out in both our countries.
Majorette is a dance style that can be best compared with cheerleading. But then less bouncy, more controlled and using a stick. This group however has their own style with fun choreographies, cute costumes and improvising with the situation that is presented.
Last weekend I helped them train on the latter. Because as their dance squad leader told me: she is often the only one improvising. They hoped I could take some of their fear away.
Working with dancers is a terrific experience. I now like them even better than during my younger years in and around a dance school. Very bluntly put: dancers know what happens below their neck. And that is just a wonderful thing to see.
In 10 hours of training we worked on attitude, group work, supporting your partner, improvising in theatre and improvising in dance. We were all doing something new: me training a marjorette-troupe and them… Well, improvising.
The majoretten always parade through different kinds of environments. So we imagined fountains, policemen, markets, skaters, a zoo, bored elderly people and supermarkets to be there. Everything that was in the environment could be used for improvising dance steps, improvising poses and improvising mimed theatre.
And we got incredibly far. They performed entire routines, including ‘stick-tricks’ and environment-related dance steps, but then totally improvised. I love that our two disciplines merged together so beautifully.
Eventually we truly understood each other. Improv and Majoretten. Dutch and Flemish.
‘Can I still go back?’ I wondered.
But I knew.
The answer was ‘Nein!’
When I am training a group of improvisers or bankers or teenagers, I am constantly pulling them out of their comfort zone. Because as you might know: that is where the magic happens.
Being in the business of comfort zone stretching, it makes sense to embark upon scary things myself. But I am also only human. There is a reason why I think scary things are scary. And I don’t want to go near whatever scares me.
But there I was: on a stage in Frankfurt with 2 German improvisers and a fully packed house of German spectators. About to play a show. In German. Jawohl, in der Deutschen Sprache.
My German high school teacher would have been proud. Oh yeah, because that’s how long ago I learned to speak it. My current level can be labeled as ‘fair’. Not a level that makes me a confident conversationalist in German.
But the improv stage changes everything.
Once on the stage I fell back on my long training of faking it until you’re making it. I was just as present as my amazing fellow players Steffi and Adriano. Just with fewer words, more physicality and a wide and colorful range of grammatical and linguistic errors.
Including Steffi’s favorite: “Warum ich so eine lange Nase habe? Weil ich damit gut rauchen musste”
The show was one big ‘high’ for me. We played games, we did scenes, we performed a longform, we danced, we sang, I chatted with the audience, I spoke all my 3 languages and used verbal, physical and emotional evenly. It was all challenging and wonderful at the same time.
Not in the least because I felt so supported by my talented scene partners. They not only made sense of all I did, they also felt comfortable enough to mock my language skills and Dutch nationality. That truly felt as a compliment.
Another fun moment was when the scene was set in a sci-fi movie. The storyteller said my character, Isis the computer voice, would now give detailed instructions to the main character. Of course I had no choice but to say: “Dieses…. Dort….” (This…. There….) Having a main character who thinks this is indeed the best instruction possible, made the scene so very enjoyable.
Being limited in language is an offer. I knew that already but how exhilarating it is to feel it again. To throw yourself out there with not knowing what the hell you are doing and conquering it all. I think that indeed can only happen with staying positive, building on what is there, trusting and inspiring your partner, gloriously failing and saying yes.
Next time someone asks you if you want to do something you think is scary, say yes. Get yourself into the position where you wonder if you can go back. That is where the magic happens.
Vielen Dank to Steffi, for ALL you did. Also danke schön to Für Garderobe Keine Haftung: Adriano, Ulrich, Michael, Ida and to all the improvisers in the workshop, Franzi, Clemens, Stefan, and last but certainly not least: Laura.