Interviews with two improvisers

Amanda Hirsch is an improviser and blogger, among other things. She interviewed Mark Chalfant, the artistic director at Washington Improv Theater, and Topher Bellavia, the managing director at WIT, and kindly shared these links with I NEED A WORD:

http://www.creativedc.org/blog/2007/04/creative-dc-profile-topher-bellavia.html
http://www.creativedc.org/blog/2006/06/creative-dc-profile-mark-chalfant.html

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Interviews with two improvisers

  1. ineedaword

    Amanda asked Topher: A lot of WIT’s materials reference improv as an antidote to the seriousness of life in DC. Is improv about escaping seriousness?

    I think we all spend a lot of our time living up to other people’s expectations, and this part of the “seriousness” of life in DC. It’s stressful living up to someone else’s expectations, whether it’s your boss or your significant other, or your family…
    Improv serves me as an outlet for breaking expecations. In improv, you SHOULD do the unexpected thing, the surprising thing. You should NOT second guess yourself or yield your point of view. The magic happens when everyone magically comes into harmony without dropping their solo. It’s a world outside of your normal life, in which you can explore all the possibilities you don’t get to play around with IN your normal life.

    Any one else have thoughts on Amanda’s question?

  2. Karen Lange

    I always liken improv to the pretend play we do as children. It comes so naturally to us then, but gets quashed in the name of school, careers, etc, as we get older. As children, the pretending we do helps us understand how other people in other situations feel. It’s freeing to be somebody else and have their experience, and kids don’t think about whether it is important. But we know it is.

    In improv, just as in kids’ pretend games, you can be anybody in any situation without judgment. That’s both fun and powerful.

  3. ineedaword

    So part of “escaping seriousness” is tapping into that inner child?

    I don’t disagree but I must admit I don’t often feel child-like when I’m improvising. More often than not I feel even more “keyed-up” or tuned in to what is going on but your comments inspire me to try a little more child-like play next time I’m improvising. I picture something more earnest coming out. We’ll see.

  4. Karen Lange

    I mean childlike mostly in terms of wholeheartedly throwing oneself into your play. As adults we’re all so self-conscious that it’s rare to be able to express ourselves freely. The best improv moments, for me, are when I am purely in the moment happening on stage. I forget about me and all my hangups and baggage, and I just am who I’m playing, reacting as them.

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