Improv theatre has little to do with the material presented on stage. It has little to do with the theater and isn’t highly dependent on having the ‘right kind’ of thespians. Heck, some improv isn’t all that entertaining, in a traditional sense of ‘I’m going to sit in the audience and laugh or scream when I think the people on stage want me to.”
Improv is about the process. It’s a mix of trust, fear, risk taking and connection making. It’s about molding personal experiences into mini narratives, just for the fun of seeing where it goes. This process, THE process, is what makes improv special. The audience, while not active participants, are not passive. They experience creation with time the actors and get to see the genesis of ideas.
Whether attendees admit it or not, they will be changed by the experience. The intimate nature of many improv theaters helps facilitate this as well, and in the end, the actors and attendees can build on those experiences to create long-term connections.
If you can’t see the parallels between improv performances and really, really good speeches, let’s stop for a second. Business speeches, presentations and anything where someone on stage is looking to connect with and engage with the audience are, at their basic level, do the same things improv does. But how do you make the leap from person on stage to leader of a collaborative movement?
Jose & Bill
Jose Gonzalez and Bill Binder know. As part of Torch Theatre, they’ve given presentations in our home state that play upon the idea that temporary experiences are necessary to create long-term connections. They see each performance as a way to connect with the audience, instead of a static performance performed behind the fourth wall.
Because their performances aren’t set beforehand, they have an innate connection with everyone in the room. They feed of the suggestions, energy and feedback from those on stage and those watching, and use that to create a lasting impression.
Create experiences. It works.
Think of what a presenter could do if they practiced doing just that.