Improv – Deserving of a wider stage

At a play – The Diary of a Madman – the wonderful British performer was right into his solo-act as Poprishchin, a minor civil servant in Nicolas I’s time. Poprishchin is going mad and his descent into insanity is subtle & deceptive. That was in the script. What was not there was that there would be a constant titter of mobile phones ringing. The audience was getting mad in it’s own way and this descent was not so subtle; it was rather obvious! The actor was sane on this count. He carried on unaffected.

And then it happened.

He was half-way into his delivery of a particular monologue when an earth-shattering musical ringtone started to reverberate around the auditorium. Even before all of the audience had heard it, this actor started swaying to the rhythm of the ringtone, even as he continued his talk. It was so effortless that one could almost wonder if the ringtone music was intentional.

At another critical instant, a girl sneezed. Without batting an eyelid, the actor said, “Bless you” and carried on!

Both adaptations were a brilliant piece of improvisational theatre or improv! This guy incorporated new dimensions of performance into a theme that had space for them.

As read online, “Improv is a form of theatre in which most or all of what is performed is unplanned or unscripted: created spontaneously by the performers.”…”the plot, characters and dialogue of a game, scene or story are made up in the moment. Often improvisers will take a suggestion from the audience, or draw on some other source of inspiration to get started.”

Performers on stage are not that different from professionals at work. They have a plan and work towards an expected outcome. In theatre, Improv junks the plan. Whatever happens becomes the plan. That creates interesting possibilities. It is truly creative play.

Businesses are machines of predictability. They have a plan & they believe the outcome is expected. That is rationalism. You comfort yourself in being able to reason out things. In a disruptive age, very few people know what the plot is, who the characters are. They don’t know the scene and they are not sure about the story either.

Would improv, imbibing it’s spirit help? When everything that happens becomes a part of the plan, you look at the world with new eyes and discover an alternative universe – a world of possibilities.

What do you think?



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