Anyone who enjoyed seeing Tongue & Groove perform this month as a guest of Washington Improv Theater had the pleasure of seeing Bobbi Block perform, as well as the fruit of her artistic direction of the troupe. Bobbi has graciously shared an interview done with her by a colleague in Philly. Enjoy!
Q. What is your approach to improv?
A. my approaches to improv vary according to the group with which i’m performing:
a. ComedySportz (comedysportzphilly.com): for comedysportz gimmick games i go broad and playful, keeping in mind ‘rules’ of comedy such as repetition or laying down ‘normal’ before I get ‘wacky.’ for comedysportz scene games i get my platform out as soon as possible (who, what where) and try to play my character with an extreme emotional point of view.
b. Tongue & Groove (tongue-groove.com). the signature style of my longform group, Tongue & Groove, is realism, meaning that all the work comes from an emotionally grounded character who you could encounter in real life. This means the tone of the work can go comic or dramatic, depending on where the truth of the story takes us. my choices come from my own personal arsenal of emotions, situations and characters — as much as possible I draw from my own real life or the life of those around me. If I’m going thru relationship issues, it comes out in the work. If my ensemble-mate has problems with a co-dependent relative, then I’ll bring that out in the work. And we expect that of each other. the key to this work is emotional intelligence, meaning that every member of the group is in touch with his own emotional well and that of the others in the group — we practice this Emotional Intelligence element of our work as much as we practice any other ‘regular’ improv skill. Before each rehearsal we do an ‘emotional check-in’ so that we’re in touch and aware, and we all recognize that what we share is then part of our group mind and likely to inspire much of our work that night. the other element of my current approach to longform involves physicality — to be as comfortable as possible in my own body and with touching others in the ensemble — i try to reach out and touch someone in new ways all the time! that’s what it means when Tongue & Groove advertises ‘lots of kissin’ and wrestlin’;’ – we work at making our physical relationships on stage look effortless.
c. LunchLady Doris (lunchladydoris.com): LunchLady does freeform longform. my approach is much more playful with Doris and does not have the ‘realism’ parameters of T&G. Doris can go surreal, wacky, realistic, comic, touching, strange — it’s lots of fun to basically use *all* of my approaches to improv during a Doris show — to use whichever style suits the needs of the form at any given moment. As with all approaches, *listening* and *trust* are crucial. there’s a freedom to Doris work that is unlike my other approaches.