Archive for June, 2011

Group Mind

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

If you are an improviser you have probably heard the term “Group Mind”.  What most people mean when they say “Group Mind” is that the group not only acts as one entity, but the result on stage is also greater than the sum of the parts.  When you are experiencing group mind you will find yourself jumping on ideas that you would have never thought of, but seem to be perfect.  Everything flows.  We try to develop group mind in all of our house teams and groups to have our players to be a part of something bigger than the individual.

I believe group mind comes from the individuals all believing in something bigger than themselves.  Something that the group all has in common and have faith in and believe, so much so that they may even lose themselves as an individual for a bit.  For people who belong to a church or done Habitat for Humanity know what I am talking about.  Broncos fans know what I am talking about.  Anyone who had been in a march, parade, mob or a riot knows.  We all have to have the same focus and goal and move as one.  Once we all have the big picture it is up to us as individuals to embody that philosophy.

For improvisers that philosophy is part of the very nature of improv:

Support and build on each other’s ideas, trust yourself, others and that the story will unfold the way it needs to, take the next step, pay attention, be ‘in the moment’, don’t know what will happen next - just know it will be perfect, the smallest things matter, own it, make bold choices, make mistakes, laugh, smile, support and play.

These are some of our beliefs and philosophy as improvisers.  All of these beliefs and more help us create something out of nothing on stage.  These are also the rules we need to embody to help create group mind.  When we start taking these practices off the stage and into our group, our rehearsals and our social time together that is when we start to develop group mind.

When I think of Improvisation I think of the word ALACRITY.  This means: liveliness or briskness, a cheerful readiness, promptness of response, or willingness; alertness, gameness, goodwill.  This is what I think of when I think of an improvisational attitude.  To me an improviser is someone who is ready, enthusiastic and quick to join.  When you have a bunch of people with this mind set on and off stage, you are that much closer to achieving group mind.

Improvisation should not just how we perceive the world on stage, it should be how we engage each other off stage too.  Taking the lessons of improvisation into our core and putting them into play in our social interaction, our rehearsals, our warm-ups, and hopefully our life.  This is how we start to create group mind with our group and a more improvisation life in general.

Improvisation is our philosophy, spirit, or beliefs on and off stage.  We need to be improvisational in every aspect of our lives at The Bovine.  When questions come up we need to ask “WWID” (What Would Improvisers Do?) and we need to bring it not only to the stage but to rehearsals, warm-up, the box office, the light booth, in our social interactions and in classes. When we all embody the spirit of improvisation we sow the seeds of group mind in our class, group, show, theater and world.

Improv Your Life!



As always, due to the huge amount of spam we receive,  if you please make sure you include the word “improv” in any comments you leave, we will make sure that they get added to the post.  Thanks!

Rules of Improv

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

I did a show last week and a few people came up to me after the show and said “you broke so many rules of improv”.  They were not accusing, they were confused.  To be honest, I not only broke some, I broke a ton in one sentence.  For example, I started once scene looking out a window (not focused on my partner), I said “Do you think they are still out there? (question and talking about someone off stage). One of the other audience members involved in this discussion said that I was in character, my character was afraid and that choice was honest to the character and that is why it worked.

I explained it like this;

The rules of improv are guide lines.  Like a coloring book where you get a picture and you color it in.  You can pick any color you want, but at first you try to stay in the lines.  As you get better at staying in the lines you are developing a pincher grasp, basic techniquess and an idea of what picture you like to color and which ones don’t interest you.  At some point staying in the lines is not going to be enough for you.  You are going to want to draw your own pictures.  Now some of them may be very similar to the pictures in the coloring book, but they are still yours and still original.

The “rules of improv” are the lines you color in and try not to cross.  When you have mastered staying in the lines then you branch out.  You get rid of someone else’s pictures and do your own.

Picasso when he was 16 was an extremely good realist painter.  By the age of 21 he was doing some very good impressionist paintings.  He kept growing as an artist and eventually spearheaded the Cubist movement by the time he was 29.  He had to learn the rules and techniques of the other styles in order to transcend them.  Take Jackson Pollack for example, he transcended his other styles to create his own and to take art further.  If I throw paint on a canvas I am mimicking the style, but until I learn the techniques and own them, I will never be able to be a great artist.

The rules are the lines and it is hard to stay in the lines at first.  We all realize the the rules have set us on a path in order to transcend them.  Then we understand and have the skills to not worry about the lines.  I have been around long enough to want to create my own lines.

Rules should be transcended and not aimed for.