Thursday, 22 March 2007


"It's weird to wake up knowing you'll be onstage in twelve hours and there's absolutely nothing you can do to ensure success."

"Ask people to give you an original idea and see the chaos it throws them into. If they said the first thing that came into there head, there'd be no problem." Keith Johnstone, Impro.

Improvisation is a word bandied around too often with regard to acting and much of the time with little understanding of what it means and little regard to how difficult it is and how easy it is to improvise very badly. It is also a skill that is sometimes raised to quasi-mythological status in order for those that think they're good at it to smokescreen the fact that with practice we can all be good (and indeed already are) improvisers.

Improvisation is merely an adult word for play, a skill we quickly lose as adult life consumes us and we are educated into repressing not only our imaginations but also anything that makes us look psychotic, obscene or as if we are unoriginal.

I am currently embarking on a new teaching programme with my students regarding becoming better improvisors and in turn freeing up their creative elements and stopping repressive behaviours.

Not easy.

I work with them for 2 hours a week to repair some 20+ years of oppression but when the break throughs come they are quite profound.

I'll keep you posted!


  1. This brings back my Viola Spolland memories.

    Last night I attended "The Glass Menagerie" at the new Tyrone Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. A critic was there from the New York Times, because it was the first time the narrator and the son were played by different actors.

    I wish you could see how majestic that theater is,


  2. My first principal was a jazz trombonist who persuaded me that the best teachers learn to be good at improv.

  3. Oh, Captain, my Captain!

    Love it. Keep up the good work, Cap'n.

  4. Improvisation just means to make it up as you go along. However, there are a number of ways you can improvise. You can just come to the party with nothing prepared and hope that some creative spark draws you in the right direction or you can rely on a trusty riff or phrase to carry you forward. When I improvise I try my best to fool the listener into thinking that I am doing it for the first time and I am hiding all those ticks and habits that I rely in my guitar playing to get by. Improvisation is also a liar's art.

    But yeah, make it up as you go along...

  5. Yeah lets smash the educational system barriers embeded in our brains.


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