About 8 months ago, after a particularly rowdy evening of karaoke in Parramatta with a group of my Sydney friends, I was dubbed by one as “Mr Entertainment” for my, shall we say, lively interpretation of a number of songs that night. I admitted that as much as I loved karaoke, I wanted to do more. She suggested that I give improv a go. She knew a few people from the improv scene in Sydney and thought it would suit my particular “talent”. She dug up details of On The Fly and before I knew it I was at my first workshop with the amazing Derek Flores.
What a buzz! That night I got to meet a number of now familiar faces from the Adelaide improv scene. I was determined not to be backwards in coming forward and literally threw myself into the workshop … so much so that I actually cracked a rib from diving to the ground in one exercise. I attended a couple more sessions and went to see a production of Gorilla at the Grace Emily. Things started to get serious, however, when I started attending workshops in January in preparation for the Impro Jam show in late February.
I was having so much fun but it was like being back at school again. Not only was my inner child (a wicked one at that) being given a voice but I was learning so much. Impro was not about gags, it was about telling a story, exploring relationships, developing characters. By the time the Impro Jam came around I was like a bull at a gate and itching to get onstage.
Working on games and scenarios at the Box Factory is one thing, playing them out live on stage, in front of a living, breathing paying audience is quite another! You can’t but help lift the intensity of your performance. I had a fantastic time and surprised myself. I was hooked. I wanted more!
The opportunity soon arose, with a series of workshops arranged by visiting Fringe artists Glenn Hall, Nick Byrne and Rick Brown. This was improv at a whole different level! Glenn taught me that not only is it ok to “stuff” up but that I should embrace it for the opportunity that presents. Nick taught me that my ideas and thoughts are just as valid as anybody elses. Rick’s lesson was to come later, because there was a show to do first.
I could not grab the opportunity fast enough to be a cast member of Glenn’s “In a New York Minute”. Not only was this my first opportunity at long form improv, but I had only been exposed to it for the first time the night before in the audience of the stunning “Shadows in the City of Light”. Initially, I was intimidated to be in the same cast as Nick, Rick and many seasoned local performers. But once I got on stage I forgot all that, remembered the lessons I had learned and just went with the flow.
I have described the experience as “life changing” for me, it was such an intense and satisfying experience. My perceptions of what my boundaries and limitations are have been pushed much further out, not only in improv but in other aspects of my life. And this is just the beginning of my improv journey. I can’t wait for what is yet to come!
Images show Steve on stage on a cat chaise lounge and Steve working with Rik Brown from Impro Melbourne.