Wednesday 2 February 2011

Amsterdam International Improv Festival pt 1: Theatricality

This is the first part in a series of things that stood out for me at the 16th Amsterdam International Improv Festival.

Tuesday: Theatricality
Often in improv we forget that we have a god-like control of physics on stage and that we can use this and the audience's cinematic literacy to great effect. One great example of this was a fight scene between two boxers (played by the guys from Cia. Barbixas de Humor from Brazil), where both of them stood apart, facing the audience. And despite seemingly not being able to clearly see each other, each punch received the appropriate reaction and both went into slow motion at exactly the same moment.

Photo from

Another example of using cinematic literacy was a girl (played by Yuri Kinugawa of Japan) in a wheelchair (which, as ever in improv, was played by a regular chair). But instead of the usual, chair being scraped and awkwardly jerked around the stage as the character moves, the chair remained static and because we saw the girl move the wheel and she was the focus of our attention, we accepted her not moving and accepted that it was the background that was moving, which was easy as it wasn't really there in the first place. The fact she was alone on stage at the time, made it easier. But I could see, with a lot of awareness and a little bit of practice, that the chair never need move and even turning with a dozen people in the room, could be achieved by the people moving, not the chair.

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