One of the advantages improvisers have in bigger cities is a larger pool of mentors—more teachers, coaches and directors to shape the way they play.
The exciting thing happening lately in KC is that, as more troupes form and shows go up, more people are stepping into those roles. Right now, the teacher/coach/director jobs tend to roll into one, bossy Person In Charge. In an ideal world, there are subtleties in the different descriptions:
TEACHERS focus on individual players—they’re all about practice. Whether the class focuses on basic skills, opening your eyes to new techniques or helping you grow as a performer, they’re there to make your work stronger.
COACHES focus on ensemble work—they’re all about process. They come in at the request of a troupe to work on specific elements, like teamwork or character-building, or to polish a show the troupe has created.
DIRECTORS focus on results—they’re all about product. They might envision and create theaters, shows or troupes; it’s their responsibility to put the elements in place to create something successful.
There’s a fourth role: Player. And when I’m in that mode, I count on the teacher, coach or director to meet my needs. In situations where I am not The Bossy One, I’m either incredibly relaxed or so frustrated I’m certain everyone in the room can smell it on me. Usually, it's because the person in charge doesn't understand what players need from them. I have really, really specific ideas of what I expect from each—and I suspect every improviser does.
So there we go. Fodder for the next three posts.