Archive for March, 2010
In the performing arts world, there is a discipline that is the basis and base of all performing arts. This discipline is known as Improvisation, or as it is known by performing artists, improv. Improvisation is making things up on the spot, using the material that is in front of you, around you, in you.
The reason that improv is the basis of all performing arts is because, in the performing world, one never knows when one will need it. There are no perfect performances as a usual event, but there can be perfect improvisation that saves the day. Many a show has been saved by an actor’s improvisation when some of the cast has lost lines or have made a huge mistake. Sometimes the improv is so good, the audience never knows there was a mistake; sometimes the improv is so good, the audience absolutely knows there has been a mistake and are overjoyed to be a part of the joke.
Improv happens in theatre; there are even improv comedy groups that meet together and then perform once a week or so. Some comedy improv groups have become extremely popular.
Improv is also a big part of music, especially jazz or jazz fusion groups. Jazz allows musicians to play from the heart and not to always be stuck with certain notes to play. However, jazz improv and jamming, are not easy mediums. Jazz players must be great musicians to be able to improv and jam with any skill. Jazz is an art form all by itself; improv adds to the jazz sound and makes it an incredible experience. A single jazz singer imrovising with a vocal “scat” can be thrilling.
There are even modern dance groups that allow improv. When you see a such dance group improv as they make it up on the spot, it can be pretty impressive.
So, improv is the basis for all performing arts, as it keeps you in the moment and keeps the performance fresh.
True performance, whether, theatre, dance, or music, that is held in real time, can never be duplicated. The creative process is in the Now and there is nothing that will ever take its place.
When a dancer performs at the height of their career to the best of their abilities, it is probable that this best of the best may only happen once. Even though every performance may be a jewel, each performance is a new animal because it is being re-created on the spot.
There is a famous story about the incredible actor, Sir Lawrence Olivier, who was playing a particular role on stage in Britain. When it was over Sir Lawrence went into to a fit, backstage. He was asked why he was so upset, because, according to cast and audience that night, Sir Lawrence had delivered the best performance of his career. When reminded of this, he went ballistic and shouted that he knew it was a spectacular performance; he was upset because he knew he would never be able to repeat it!
Live performance is always for the moment; it is always a re-creation. No matter how long a theatre production may play, whether for 2 weeks or two years, each performance is a different animal than the previous performance. Every concert is a new dawn for a music group. Every dance concert or performance, no matter how precise and rehearsed, is a new experience.
When great jazz musicians jam together, that moment in time cannot be retrieved. The magic of that moment cannot be re-created. Even if it is recorded, the magic will not be the same.
The wonderful part of this phenomenon is that the next moment can be as good or better. This is the magic of performance in real time and, once again, it can never be duplicated.
This is what why theatre is magic; this is why true performance is celestial.