Magazine article Sunset

Theatrical Journeys into the Unknown

Magazine article Sunset

Theatrical Journeys into the Unknown

Article excerpt

The audience is a willing participant in San Francisco's improv theater performances

EXPECTING THE unexpected is part of the delight of collective improvisation. For audiences, improv promises the freshness of an all-new show every 10 minutes or so throughout an evening of theatergoing. For actors, it means entering uncharted territory just as frequently. For both, it involves the excitement of unpredictable imaginative collaboration--which may be why an evening of improv can feel more absorbing than conventional theater, and why mistakes or misdirections are more easily forgiven.

San Francisco's theater community has an unusually strong complement of performers who are both willing to take on the risks of improvisation and skillful enough to do it in a consistently interesting way. Flying into the unknown requires a brave heart as well as a quick mind, a willingness to welcome the anxiety of being on the edge. As Rebecca Stockley of Bay Area Theatresports puts it, "You're trying to do something you don't already know you can do--often, many times in a single evening." Pulling this off also requires training; the availability of high-quality training in San Francisco is one reason why the city is blessed with a wealth of improv talent.

Such training has value for actors whether or not they're working with a script. Brian Lohmann teaches improv techniques at the American Conservatory Theater, even though the company does not present improvisation. "The training helps actors performing a script night after night to say in the moment, to be spontaneous and responsive," he says. "It helps them play the play, rather than demonstrate the play." At a deeper level, it teaches both actors and audience to treat a suggested direction as a gift, a door to be opened with anticipation rather than resistance.

Improvisational theater gets different twists from different performance groups. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.