The more I do improv the more I understand how simple and at same time also how complex it is.
There is something that just cannot be explained in it. Oh, I have tried (even in this blog) and so many others have tried, but there is always something missing I feel.
It's like with so many things in life: you can take it into pieces and explain these, but the Gestalt - the connection of all the parts - is not the same as adding up individual parts.
The problem I face is similar to the one many LARP'ers (Live Action Role Players) have when they try to explain why it is good and fun. You can talk about collaboration, learning history, developing your crafting skills etc, but this is just taking the whole picture into pieces.
It is not just the summary of all these parts. It is so much more.
You, as a human are not just collection of your parts, are you?
At the same time, improv at its core is stupid simple.
It's just like a kids play.
But why do we not play anymore as grownups? Fine, some of us do have new games (mind games, computer games, dating, politics, etc) but it is not the same as we had as kids, is it?
While growing up we turn protective. We don't want to do things we are unsure of anymore. We say, it's not practical or important. We can't stand to feel lost, unsure, emotional or stupid. We act tough, but we are scared shitless.
Why so? Because at some point in the way we got hurt badly.
Our trust, freedom, love and vulnerability get stabbed and we build walls to protect ourselves - this is just how it is. Everyone has some walls, but not all of them are actually healthy nor needed.
“Of all the things trauma takes away from us, the worst is our willingness, or even our ability, to be vulnerable. There's a reclaiming that has to happen.” says Brené Brown in her book
I feel that improv is one of the ways we can use to reclaim this lost part.
True, there are some techniques that work better for it than others but all and all already 'yes, and', 'listening' and 'supporting your partner' can be big and important steps.
Improv is not just having fun. It's not just an amazing art form. It is not just a way of living. It is a shortcut to the heart. It is reclaiming of your lost parts and using them to connect with people.
I don't know how to better explain it. The connection you have with an improviser - with whom you have only shared an workshop or a show together - can often be greater and more authentic than with a family member or a long-term friend. It just happens like this and as it does, it is true.
I will just leave you with this quote from the same book.
"I believe that vulnerability - the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of outcome - is the only path to more love, belonging and joy."