opening night blog ::
Been doing a lot of talking to the press about the upcoming opening and there’s something very useful about being forced to repeat over and over again what you’re doing and and why – something that I have found coming up over and over again in the press gauntlet leading up to opening is the fact that I am not a “theater person” and how HUGE would really like people to understand that improv is theater.
First off, saying I’m not a “theater person” is a lot like saying I am not a “music person” – everyone likes some kind of theater, really, whether they know it or not. Storytelling, stand up, TV, movies, improv, busking…all these things are essentially theater, the only difference is the delivery medium.
“A paradigm is what you think about something before you think about it” – Dr. Faiz Khan
When I say “theater” I always picture the stuffy, not too fun, fairly uptight, aloof art experience, I don’t think I’m alone in this. This is the paradigm of the word “theater” right now, thankfully I’ve been forced to think about it a lot more latey.
I feel like that image keeps a lot of people away from “real theater” because, let’s face it, that mental image just doesn’t seem like much FUN. What we do in improv is so clearly built around fun that the two things seem completely opposed in some way and there’s really no way to convince ourselves or anyone else that improv fits in that box of “real theater” and as a result we always seem to be stuck struggling to elevate improv to that level in order to capture that validity.
Trying to take the fun out of it to fit the existig paradigm.
We should be fighting in the other direction.
I always draw the music analogy – there’s everything from punk rock, hardcore industrial digital noisecore screeching to delicate, beautiful symphony orchestras, but we all understand that they fall under the bigger term of “music” – In my mind, improv has always been a very close relative of punk rock, whereas “theater” is always a close analogy to the symphony. Imagine if people only thought of the symphony when you used the word “music” and as a result, avoided other things that people called “music” because they already knew they didn’t enjoy it.
For some reason the more stoic, stuffy vision of the theater spectrum still owns the word “theater” so much that poeple, myself included, would readily define themselves as “not into theater” when what we’re really saying is we don’t enjoy the symphony.
So the mission is less about convincing everyone that punk rock is going to be a hit with the symphony crowd or vice versa, but more about getting people to loosen their grip on the term “theater” to include things like improv…hell, even fun.
Tonight we are opening a punk rock theater.
It’s going to be fun. And theater.
From now on.