Tuesday, June 3, 2008

This started off to be a really, really simple post

Play time rocks.

After a couple of months mostly off, my rehearsal schedule is picking up…to a level I don’t think it’s reached since we owned the theater. Starting later this month, I’ll get to rehearse with Spite on Tuesdays, Tantrum on Wednesdays and Burnin’ Sternums on Saturdays. Plus Fight Club. Plus Jared’s long-form thingy. Plus festival classes. Plus a class at Roving Imp, if it works with the rest.

I love it.

For a long time, I didn’t feel like I was on stage enough to get much better from rehearsal to rehearsal. Now I’m starting to feel like I’m carrying changes with me from Tantrum to Long-form Practice to Classes to That Which I Can’t Mention.

The biggest one is confidence on the most basic level. I’m not second-guessing myself as much, so I’m starting to edge out of my comfort zone. And because I’m in scenes more often, I can see what the comfort zones—and crutches—are. I can feel it when a new character clicks in, and initiate or follow a game move without first wondering “is this the right game move? does everyone else think this is the right game move? am I really getting this?”

And getting that big, fluffy stuff out of the way means I can start working on the deeper issues—the richer scene and character work we’re pushing in Tantrum. That takes a different kind of confidence, and I'm finding it more difficult to cultivate.

To backtrack: The base-level confidence is just reminding myself I’ve done this long enough to know what I’m doing, and to start playing like someone with 18 years of experience. I should be able to just claim it—but the extra stage time helps because of the validation. When I’m in a scene and people laugh, or are surprised by a move I make or a character I pull out, I think, “OK. I’m not imagining things. I’ve can do this.”

Every year, the Exit 16 kids give each other a huge gift: One by one, during warm-up for the first show, they tell each other what they dig about each other. I think a big part of the reason the Thunderdome show with Spite felt so good—for me, anyway—is that we told each other before the show we were excited to play together. And come to think of it, when I’ve gotten up with players who used to be my students, and they think it’s cool to be on stage with me, I go into the scene or the show in an even better frame of mind.

I’m hesitant to write about this because I’ve just started working it out in my head, but here goes.

More than in any group I’ve played with since Lighten Up/Funny Outfit, the kind of work Tantrum wants to do is…emotionally risky. Real characters, real relationships, real emotions. The kind of scenework that takes a combination of true self-confidence and total trust.

And it seems like those two things feed off each other: Knowing fellow players are confident helps you trust them. Knowing they trust you boosts your confidence. 

I can get myself the majority of the way there. But to take the big risks…I wonder where complete confidence and trust has to come from the group mind. 

When is it important to stop assuming your fellow players know how you feel, and start saying it out loud? 

Where does the individual’s responsibility end and the group’s take over?


1 comment:

  1. Great questions...wish I could answer them.

    I have an awful lot of trouble with the confidence thing. I often feel like I really, really suck but I'm often reassured that I don't. I wish I knew if that was a knee jerk reaction on their parts or if it truly is all in my head. I often think the very nature of improv is conducive to second guessing yourself. You're on stage in front of an audience and you have no idea what's going to happen next. It's hard to get much more vulnerable than that.

    Oh, and what kind of sick people are we as a group to seek out that kind of insecurity? :-)


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