Friday 4 February 2011

Amsterdam International Improv Festival pt 3: Recovery

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

From festival picasa account

The second show on Tuesday was multinational duo The Banzai Twins. This had some great moments and they allowed themselves to have genuinely heart-felt scenes without losing faith and falling into gags. The biggest hiccup in the show was a scene were each player started with a completely different idea. So the scene was then all about one actor convincing his partner she was playing a new character when she had already started playing her established character, with the result that the second player left the stage calling "confusing!" There are obvious lessons in that, but their recovery was brilliant.

They redid the scene in a Japanese theatre style (in a mixture of real Japanese and Japanese gibberish). This time there was fighting and the internal struggle between the actors seemed to get played out as an external fight in which the guy was stabbed to death. This somewhat exorcised the demon of the bad scene and with the guy now leaving the stage calling "confusing!" which not only showed that things had been reversed but established the word "confusion!" as a small running theme. The idea to redo the scene was an impulse and the fighting, I think, wasn't planned as a metaphor for the inner fighting but part of the genre they were replaying in, but is shows that if you let the subconscious free, it'll often do great things. Whilst I believe we have a higher tolerance for mistakes in improv than we ought, and no way want to encourage people to be blasé about them, we should know that when they occur, we should not ignore them or try to hide them; we should embrace them, deal with them, but not let them derail us from where we need to be going.

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