Keep it simple, stupid. That’s the big lesson I’m learning my first few days at Io. We’ve been doing group openings with all fourteen people in the class and if every one adds a little something we end up with something much larger than the sum of our parts–and when that happens it’s awesome! It literally inspires awe because it’s incredible that so many people agreed to something and that, on top of that, it was something great.
Improv is difficult, so I’m thinking that you want to make it as easy for yourself as possible. So, agree on the idea quickly, make simple moves, and make those moves clearly so everyone can understand them (that means committing hard because it’s hard to tell a half-assed duck is a half-assed duck but a guy quackin’ and flappin’ hard is duck that’s easy to spot.) That might also be why so many performers from Io wear their characters close to their skin because it’s easier to be someone that’s a lot like you than someone you have to make up wholesale. And when I say simple, I mean, “I’m Batman,” as opposed to, “You and me are both doctors on Mars and Martian biology is a lot like dogs on Earth so I’m sorry I keep insulting you, Mr. Martian, but it’s just that your tail and big, wet nose makes me think of Mr. Whipply, my cockerspanial.”
Io is big on exploring themes through improv, and the way to do that easily is to make the first line of the first scene something that solidifies the big theme discovered in the opening. Then it’s up to the performers to choose characters that are manifestations, in some way, of that theme, that way the theme is kept alive in the piece. It’s also easier to improvise when you’ve got a clear POV to work from. So, if the theme is temptation, you might be a character who’s always tempting your partner. And now you don’t really have to worry about keeping the theme alive because it will always be there because it’s a foundational part of your charecter.
At least that’s what I’m picking up from my instructor Lyndsay Hailey. She’s really great– setting the bar high not just for the other Io teachers but for improv instructors in general.
Alrighty, I’m off to Harold night. Toodles!