Death and Life was a theme in Bogota.
Ahhhhhh Bogota Colombia. My time has ended here but the memories give birth to inspiration and new ideas. The International festival featured individuals from Germany, Argentina, Colombia and Canada.
One of my fondest memories was the show on Friday night.
If you have never heard an audience truly connected in varied states of emotional reaction then you haven’t really felt the power that improvisation has. There were moans of sadness, screams of anger, oceans of laughter and other varied pockets of emotions for the show. It’s everything an improvisation group would hope for.
The audience left with big smiles and a warm glow. Many audience members stayed behind to meet the cast and hang out with each other at the front entrance of the theatre. Creating the environment where people don’t want to leave means they will likely return.
On stage an Improviser comes up with an idea. IT’S A GREAT IDEA! But… the story on stage changes and no longer fits with the story in the improvisers mind. The greedy improviser holds on to his personal vision and the scene dies. The smart improviser kills his idea to make room for the birth of the new story.
One of the nice elements in the show was the balanced fight for the integrity of the scene versus the playful nature of the improvisers. It’s exciting when there is danger that the whole train might go off the tracks and over the edge of mayhem but it is pulled back just in time.
The improvised play where a man battles death and finally embraces it after a long battle had the audience emotionally engaged on many levels. Equally engaging was the gibberish play in Japanese Gibberish of a man looking for the meaning of life and finding it in love only to lose it and find it again in death.
The audience was given the choice to see the ending of just ONE of the two plays above. They wouldn’t alow that choice to exist. They yelled until they saw both.
During one of the workshops, one of the students came to an understanding that Improvisation can be more than gags and cheap laughs. He asked how they could re-train their audience to see the worth of a complete meal of improvisation where they had become used to evening of just candy.
I suggested they shouldn’t be scared to kill their audience.
By working towards what would inspire themselves to grow, they might lose some audience members but would eventually gain a crowd that would come back more healthy week after week after week for something that fed them on many levels rather than something that became predictable.
The Theatresports match on Thursday was a great learning experience for the audience and cast. The show built slowly and in a perfect arc that shows should have. The audience went from passive theatre watchers, to people who yelled at judges and cheered for their favourite performers.
Seeing people who have never performed before bravely risk standing on stage, giving birth to what will hopefull be long lives of stage improvisation was a pleasure.
In the note session after the show there was some comment from people feeling they didn’t get enough time on stage. In the discussion that followed I hope that there was a realisation that the show was for the audience. Where the performers can kill their ego and fear to enhance the audience experience, then the improvisers will have grown to a stronger state.
Everyone involved in Lagata’s international Impro festival felt a sense of loss at the end at the same time they felt gifted with the tools of new inspiration to create new and equally inspiring work.
Now it’s done. What comes next?
For me… Peru.