Impro World Tour

Ramblings and Wonderings of a world of Improvisation
Browsing South America

Controlled Folly


I remember a writer, Carlos Castaneda, wrote something interesting about a topic: CONTROLLED FOLLY.  He wrote lots of interesting things.  This one interested me.

Consider that the scene you are in and the life you lead is like a movie.  With movies, (good movies) you are wrapped in the complete experience.  You jump with fear at the Zombies, your tears fall when the lovers die, you laugh when the guy walks naked from his bedroom into his surprise party with his family and close friends… unless it’s happened to you.

With a movie, you know that this is only real in an imaginary sense.  You know that in 93 minutes, the story will end.  You may even know the ending.

Why do you feel the emotion?  Colombia joy

You choose to.

We want to feel something.  It’s a more enjoyable way to live.  Given the choice to FEEL something or go like cardboard through a grey life, I would choose the “something”.

The problem comes when YOU become the fear and sadness and lose perspective.  When you won’t let the movie end and you hold onto that emotion because you accept the emotion as you, you lose true connection to the world.

There is little difference with the experience and emotion of a movie and the experience and emotions in life and on stage.

You have the choice to react to nothing and feel no emotion.  The safety you live by will be rewarded in an unexceptional experience for you and the audience.

On stage, if you choose the emotion strong and commit to it, the audience will thank you  by feeling a piece of what you feel.  (more-so if you feel it as close to honesty as you can).  But keep perspective.  See the story.  See your partner.  Don’t lose the path because you have become the rage, the confusion, the love.

And, when the scene is done, failure or success, let it go an move on to the next moment fully.  You aren’t the success.  You aren’t the failure.  Leave that behind and be the moment now.

You control it.  Whether you choose to BE it 100% for the moment or not is up to you. Whether you choose to disengage is your choice too.

Here’s a little quote from Castaneda:

You should know by now that a man of knowledge lives by acting, not by thinking about acting, nor by thinking about what he will think when he has finished acting. 

A man of knowledge chooses a path with heart and follows it; and then he looks and rejoices and laughs; and then he sees and he knows.  …he knows, because he sees, that nothing is more important than anything else. 

Thus a man of knowledge …is just like any ordinary man, except that the folly of his life is under control. 

Nothing being more important than anything else, a man of knowledge chooses any act, and acts it out as if it matters to him.  His controlled folly makes him say that what he does matters and makes him act as if it did, and yet he knows that it doesn’t; so when he fulfills his acts he retreats in peace, and whether his acts were good or bad, or worked or didn’t, is in no way part of his concern.  ‘

Carlos Castaneda (1931 -)

Advanced improvisation versus Basics… Young and Old… Strength and Weakness…


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Death and Life and Improvisation…



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.

A man working on cars in Bogota

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.

Bogota BoyIn 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.


Calm Colombian passionate presence…


Here I am in Bogota Colombia.    I’m playing with the improvisers here in workshops and a festival set up by LA GATA.  Nice nice people…

Latin Americans have a very nice quality about them.  Warm and spicy – yum.  It’s interesting hanging out with them to see how they socialize in a way that’s different from Europeans, Asians and North Americans.

Sure it’s a generalization but they seem to be willing to let moments become whatever the moment wants to be.  More often than not you will be sitting around these Colombians and hear passion and laughter but when that evolves into ‘calm nothing-ness’, there’s no panic to protect the social moment from ‘boredom’ or awkwardness.  It’s all ok.

On stage, improvisers panic when the scene and show hit the quiet moments.  We shouldn’t.  In the natural quiteness that comes in the varied states of our being why don’t we calmly accept the state and not force what is not there?   Calm and passionate with the world

There are a couple people in the workshops who fill all the moment all the time with all the ‘energy’ they can.  What we get is a white noise hiss of sound.  No chance to breathe, relax, sit back and take things in.

On stage, try being a little Latin.  Fill your life with passionate expression but, equally embrace calm presence.  Be aware of what the moment offers.  Be aware of what state your partner is in and let the moment guide you honestly…