Lee combined his experience of improvising on stage with the Comedy Store Players and his experience of Open Space with Improbable Theatre Company.
The first part of the session focused on being present and 'noticing what's there'. In order to have (stage) presence, it is important to be in the moment, present. During a word-at-a-time turn taking exercise, Lee asked us to pay attention to how much time we spend talking in the past, present, and future tenses and what difference it makes to us as an individual and as a team. It was great to see that everyone had different reactions and noticed a variety of automatic responses.
By defining improvisation as an infinite practice rather than a skill which can be perfected, Lee highlighted the attitude of 'playing to play' rather than 'playing to win'. Through playing a game which was impossible to do perfectly, we got to experience how we react in situations where external conditions create difficulties. We often switched partners and it was enlightening to play the same game with different people.
We looked at what we can do ourselves to heighten and to lower our apparent confidence levels. What do others see when they look at us? How can we come across as confident and in control? Purposeful movement with an upright posture had a very different effect than hurried shuffling.
It was fantastic to see what effect holding or avoiding eye contact had. All exercises were done without speaking to highlight the importance of body language and facial expressions.
Thank you, Lee, for sharing your insights and experience with us. We look forward to the next one.