Teenagers should be teenagers – just politically correct.

Back to the crime scene, of course

On the 15th January I went to First Stage see the premiere of the new theatre production called “Generations” under the hands of Theatre School Prva Gimnazija Maribor. Every single time I get so excited to return to that stage, whether it be watching or performing there. I did spent some of the most memorable and beautiful moments of my life there, so it’s clear that I look at everything Theatre-School-related with fondness and care.

The young actors in “Generations”. Photo by Janez Klenovšek.

“Generations”, directed by Tin Grabnar (remember the name, you’re going to hear it a lot in the future), is a show about the lack of communication between generations. The young actors talk about their feelings, for what they are thankful and what annoys them in today’s society. They take the audience away with their quite honest and sincere talk about the teenage life: first cigarettes, experiencing sex and drugs for the first time, the conflicts with parents, friends, teachers at school, discontent with their bus drivers, current political scene and so on. They approach different topics fearlessly, show their true selves to the public eye and even make us cry (seriously, people cried during one emotional scene, I was also almost at that point). To see a bunch of 17, 18-year olds getting almost 100 people on the verge of tears or to cry… that’s quite something, I tell you.

Of course, putting a show like this on the stage takes a lot of (especially mental) preparation, exploring of your inner self and these guys nailed it – I bet that they have taken more from this one show in terms of personal growth than in quite few years of schooling. But we can’t go past the school.

 

 

In one of the scenes the actors in their text use quite vulgar words and provoke different teachers at the school. The reaction of the teaching staff (although only 5 of like 40 or 50 teachers actually saw the show) was so big that the principal had to take unusual (and extreme) measures and cancel the upcoming reprise shows on First Stage.

This thing got so big even the local newspaper Večer, one of the biggest newspapers in the country, did a coverage on the subject – if you understand Slovene, click here for the piece.

If we’re technical about it: at the beginning of the show there’s a projection on the curtain, stating “none of the text represents the real opinion of the actors”. It’s also clearly stated in the brochure, given at the beginning of the show, that the text is a combination of written scenario and crowdsourced material from students from different schools in Maribor. The shock value is obvious: people were holding their breaths, you could hear “oohs” and “aahs”, see the people shaking their heads in dismay or disbelief that this is happening. The actors clearly stated: “We’re not goody-goody two-shoes, we do a lot of stuff in our lives, we’re young and we experiment – with our way of talk, drugs, forms of artistic articulation, with everything.”

 

“Another brick in the wall” or Theatre School is still a part of school

Let me get the whole long story short as possible: “Prva gimnazija Maribor” or First Gymnasium Maribor – one of the finest schools in Maribor and Slovenia, with a tradition of getting top shit education for your kids dating back to 1850 (whoa!). In the 90’s (1996 or 1997, if I’m correct) a group of enthusiasts got together, repainted and remodeled the former art classroom and did an improvised stage there. That stage grew and grew in the following years and the Theatre School was born. A lot of great talent went through the ranks of this extracurricular activity, many of them becoming well-known faces of the Slovene art scene or even household names. Actors, directors, light designers, costume designers, the list is really too long.

“Prva” has this amazing vibe – it attracts all these different people from different backgrounds and unites them into a great big mess, where friction is happening on a daily basis. I can recall my time as a student there: my classmates were one of the weirdest people you could find under the sun. From daydreamers and good girls to serious math geniuses and next big shots in modern art, you name it – we had it. All these different cultures, viewpoints, experiences… like a perfect petri dish for cultural activity.
And there’s the catch: the Theatre School, the First Stage, this was one of the last places where our imagination could run wild, where we could think we can take on the world head-on, where we could explore and grow, into better students, into better human beings.

My five years there were full of discovery – from learning different acting techniques, history of theatre and art, my own abilities and about world in general. Striking a conversation with unknown people was not a dreaded task anymore but rather an opportunity to know someone new, their own story. Everything around me became a source of inspiration: mimicking the moves from people walking by infused my stage characters with life, listening to stories from random people on the bus or in the bar gave me ideas for at least a million different scenarios… Theatre made who I am today, without doubt.

Withholding the right of free expression, especially in arts, is doing more damage than good to these young people. I have the utmost respect for the principal, the whole school and their staff but this is ridiculous – get your minds right, look past the superficial and be proud of the great people you’re educating in your facilities. In your own words: you are raising the next generation of intellectuals, on whose shoulders this nation will build its future. Please, don’t do stupid things like this, thank you.

 

“Getting my shit togheter” or attempts at better project management

Rant time is over – get back to work!

Yesterday was a really nice day to rant about – today? Stop pitying yourself and get to work.

I sent that dreaded email yesterday – guess what happened? The reply wasn’t as bad as I’ve thought – the production is not cancelled (but still not standing strong and tall on its own two feet). Nevertheless there is still a lot of work to be done, not just here at this project but everywhere.

Today was actually a great day: our little crew, consisting of a (mostly web) developer, graphic designer (& UX/UI at the same time) and two all-around marketers (who are more into the creative side like content/copy etc.), got together after some time to discuss our past and current projects. We did this amazing analysis of all our failed projects, where did we go wrong with it, what happened, how could we improve the situation. It was mind blowing: just us, sitting there and thinking clearly about our mistakes and missed opportunities, no standard “yeah-that’s-great-you’re-so-cool” bullshit cheering up, just real talk.

Work @ Vetrinjski Dvor

Work @ Vetrinjski Dvor – thanks Luka for being my model, unaware of it.

I’m terrible at taking photos, my keen eye is blind for composition from the aesthetical viewpoint – it’s the thought that counts.

What have we discovered? We suck at alot of things and aren’t afraid to admit it but there is only one thing holding us back from delivering our true potential to the market:

LOUSY PROJECT MANAGEMENT.

Simple as that: we can’t get stuff done because we’re unorganized. Sure, we have Slack for communication, Google Drive to keep all our files and everything else neatly stored, we all read all these blogs and guides and we attend the business events whenever & whereever we can… it all boils down to the structure.
We’re all good friends, each one of us is good at its own field of work, we’re creative and all – we get the idea, we start working on it and then we shut down.

Imagine a download/progress bar: when the bar is 99% full, a new window opens, signaling that something crashed. Same is with our projects – we do it and then poorly launch, not finish something, lose motivation etc.
Today was an important day for a reason: we revised everything, from A to Z, all of the work done together and decided to take steps for the future, to improve our communication, set more clear and realistic goals, to do better in our time management, to create an enviroment where each of us can do his best work yet and where can learn a lot of new things. To engage people around us and get them excited about using our products/services, to relieve their pains and to deliver real, meaningful projects with added value – because we’re capable of it.

After this really big revision we went and had lunch, where we talked about life in general, just having a really good time… and at the end of the day that’s all that matters: having good friends and growing as a person, one step at the time.

Messing up stuff, on a daily basis

WARNING: A lot of self-pity & random bullshit in the following text. Not for the faint of heart – or for extremely productive people who obviously do something with their lives, not like us, procrastinators & future non-perspective job seekers.

Start a day with a big bowl of muesli and little bit of screw-up!

Start the day with a stock photo of muesli!

 

Today was a good day – I woke up, ate two bowls of chocolate muesli, watched the new Dragon Ball Super episode (yep, I watch anime, more on that in the next blog posts) and checked my mail, skimmed all those Business-Insider-et-all-productivity-posts that have piled-up in my Pocket & Saved links on Facebook and so on. I’m not productive at all, at least for the last half a year or something like that. My day consists of practically nothing, no routine whatsoever, nothing.

I’m really nervous because I have to write a mail to my former theatre director with whom some of the Theatre School Prva Gimnazija ex-actors talked about doing a production in the near future (summer of 2016). All these great actors and friends gathered and put their trust in me to coordinate this whole operation – guess what? They were wrong! Of course I fucked up, the communication between the director and us was inconsistent (our director currently resides in Canada, so we Skype from time to time and write mails to each other), she has other plans and projects and clearly doesn’t have the time to play around like some of us. It’s clear that this whole project can go south because of my forgetfulness to write one e-mail, one.

I’m also nervous because the blog was down for a couple of days, some server issues. My friends are actually the best friends ever (Žiga, if you’re reading this, I owe you, big time) – they take care of me even when I’m reluctant to admit that I need help. They fix the server, cheer me up, get me fired up to write, provide me inspiration and the list goes on for days. I failed to write every single day for the first 30 days (my personal goal for this blog). People kept asking me what about the blog & I kept answering: “Soon, soon”. The traction on the blog is not really “boomin”- hey, it’s only the beginning of your blog writing, no worries.

Yep, it worries me, all of the aforementioned stuff. Not delivering the blog, writing them mails, fucking up on this and that project, fucking up everything. Because I’m prone to fucking things up. I’ll take on this subject in some other post, one day.

Other than that I saw my very good friend, ex-classmate, whom I haven’t seen for around a year or something like that. We overlooked each other in the library and then we found each other between them bookshelves. A quick chat about what’s new in our lives turned into an hour-long whispering about different people and their effects on us, discussions about past and present, plans for the future, long stories made short and short ones made long etc. It was very refreshing, I’m really happy for her, getting her life in order, unlike some of us.

Yep, starting the week with a rant, why not. If anything changes (for the better) in the next week, I’ll let you know.

“Good men, these mechanics” or the tale of getting (almost) fooled

Blogging on a regular basis is proving to be extremely hard. The discipline, the focus, squeezing writing in every single block of free time you can afford + not being satisfied with the results, deleting lines and lines of written text… It can be frustrating at times, so respect to pro writers – you’re killing it, especially with patience!

Talk about a crazy weekend – let’s start with Friday: it was cool, just another chill Friday. Our improv practive was great – we had an open practice and some new guys came to try improv for the first time and this went remarkably well. If we at Banda Ferdamana (our improv group) can keep up with the momentum, we could be seeing quite some new faces on improv stages here in Maribor in the foreseeable future.

Then came Saturday – we went out with my friends, celebrating the birthday of one of them. Tina, the waitress at the bar Bamboo (the one that taught me how to make an espresso, I wrote last blog piece about it) was not so impressed when we ordered almost the entire stock of the fine liquors they serve there. We had a blast – laughing, dancing, drinking, singing, playing darts (I suck at it, accuracy? 0%) etc.
If everything is going well, there must be something wrong, right? Not wearing my underpants that night! it was freezing, especially in the middle of the night, somewhere around -8 °C – I could sense my bones thawing when I went to bed (warm, cozy bed, best thing ever!).

Sunday was awesome – the Banda and I went to Ljubljana for our show, the competition in the local Theatresports leauge called “improliga“. I mean, it’s really awesome – all these teams from different parts of Slovenia, competing for the title of the best improv team. The public was laughing, the atmosphere was great… and we lost. For one point, 5:4 – sorry, that’s life, what you gonna do about it? Tied until that last scene, where the opponents Minimalc 54 got that last point and won. No biggie – we still can advance into the next round, if we get enough points on the next show.

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The group photo of us and Minimalc – one big happy family!

 

Monday? Kickstart the week with stupid problems.
For example – don’t trust even the must trustworthy looking people. What happened? My mom broke her side view mirror on her car. The guy that did it was fair and said to pay for the costs of repair – my mom, as kind as she can be, thought for herself: “I can’t go to someone expensive for a broken side view mirror – I should go and find the cheapest fix I can get.”

The car mechanic she picked was an older gentleman, his shop is located a few minutes ride from our home and she took her car once or twice there already. The damage assessment was simple: the mount is broken, we need to order a new mirror. OK, she brings in the car, gets it fixed and drives home – when she got home, something seemed suspicious. She checked her car and saw the new mount but the same old mirror. She returned, asking for the other parts of the newly bought mirror, in case she would use it anytime in the future. They told here that they don’t have it/they misplaced it somewhere and that everything is good – guess what? It’s not good.

If I pay you for new parts and you just fix the old parts back onto the car, it’s OK – but you still have to return me my bought parts. It’s not that much deal of the money, that’s not the problem – the principles are in question, the morality. For a fair work I pay fair money (or someone else pays in this case) and I expect a good job for that type of service, same around. Losing customers over silly small disputes and valuing quick profits in the shorter term (even if that’s something like neglectable 50€) is one of the stupidest things a business owner could do IMO.

Tuesday? Learn-what-not-to-do-in-business day!

My mom returned this morning to the shop, this time I was with here. I wanted to hear the story myself and to discuss the possibilities of reclamation – that wasn’t necessary. The shop owner had the mirror parts prepared, together with lousy excuses and very bad rhetoric about “this happens, when somebody else pays” or “we’ve got cases like this all the time”. Today was the day I learned quite some things:

  1. Never try to scam your clients – it’s low, you’ll lose the client and you’ll make a fool out of yourself.
  2. If you made a mistake, admit it –  come clean with your clients and there’s a good chance that if you do great work (which you probably do), they’ll forgive you and move on.
  3. Cut the bullshit – Excuses, different stories about this and that… when you’re bullshiting, people will know it. Show some integrity and don’t screw up you and your brand because of little stupid things.

It’s the little things that count – like coffee.

Late posting and trip down the memory lane.

Here’s the deal – daily blogging is proving to be very hard for me, as I have correctly predicted. I post late, sorry for all those 6 or 7 loyal readers (joke).

What happened in the last few days? On Thursday I’ve met this amazingly friendly mister, who’s also a Jehovah’s Witness and happened to serve the army in the former Yugoslavian regime on the today’s territory of Kosovo. Even though he served in 1979, his vivid retelling of the events during his time in the army (he was placed in the engineer squadron and helped to rebuild a lot of infrastructure during great floods and other natural disasters at the time) made me feel like I was there.

Tip: Take time, talk to people older than you and just enjoy in all these magnificent stories that they can share with you! You’ll be amazed just how much extraordinary can someone’s life be.

The little things count – like your first coffee!

I made today my first “cafe au lait” on a espresso machine – so proud of myself! Whoever talks shit about baristas, watch your language. It’s actually kinda hard to make a good coffee, let alone decorate it, serve it to the customers and be consistent in this field of work. As I’ve figured it out, this little deed proved as a quite big challenge for me.

coffee

Tina from Cafe Bamboo, my mentor for the day, showed me how to properly use the machine, taught me some basic stuff around it, how to foam the milk, pour it and so on.

However lame this sounds – I was actually quite excited. I enjoyed this quick course on how to make coffee, felt a bit more productive than on my usuall trips to the coffeeshop and be grateful to learn something new.

Tip: Try to learn something new on a daily basis, no matter how small or stupid it looks – you gain new perspective, appreciation for these different things in life you’ve taken for granted. Trust me – it’s awesome!

Human among engineers

Kids, be engineers!

How great is this video? Exxon Mobil just came up with this great advertising campaign in which they encourage kids to be engineers – it’s titled “Be an engineer” and you can find it on the link below:

So, at Exxon they ask us – how would the world look like without engineers? Fairly boring or more interesting, what do you think? In some cases it wouldn’t be really practical not to have an engineer near you, to design or construct our bridges, tools, little products and big powerplants.

I have a lot of friends, that study different fields of science: chemistry, engineering, mathematics, physics etc.
Their contribution to society is and will be enormous, let it be theoretical or practical.
Every time we hang out I get fascinated by their scientific approach to even the most simplest things – I’m too much in my dream world, fantasizing about all the (im)possible scenarios that could play out in any given moment.

It seems like they are all possible to dissect every possible machine, process, even the “magical” Aurora Borealis is in fact just combination of different laws of nature: disturbing of Earth’s magnetosphere by the solar wind results in precipitation of magnetospheric plasma into upper layers of the atmosphere (thanks Wikipedia for this one).
Shit, I can’t do that, process all of this information – for me it’s just beautiful work of nature, magic.

I’m not saying, that everyone is like that: sure, you guys read books and all, even those that ain’t related to your field of study – but I can’t get around the fact that I’m often looked upon by those people as Blendor, who studies economics or “an exact science that isn’t exact”.

“Look, this is Blendor – he acts, writes blogs, spends his time on social media, writing statuses and creating events. And he calls that working. Great, so tell me again: your contribution to the society is what?”

It’s very easy to dismiss someone with interest in art as the unproductive member of the society, the leach sucking on public finances and so on. Appreciation for arts is declining because the effects of art are not so quickly seen or are too different to understand. You’re probably working a 8, 9 hours a day, commuting, your boss is nagging, pressure here, there and everywhere. Somebody suggests you to go see that new art exhibition, that just opened last week.

What, art exhibition? Heck, ain’t nobody got time for some pretentious spoiled brats, wearing black, drinking free wine and complaining about the mean world in which we, serious and grown up normal people, have to get up early and earn our living by working fair and square. And you wouldn’t believe me how many people around us think the same.

 

Engineers – I love you guys, really, but don’t go and underestimate everyone else. There will be a time where even us, the students of social studies, liberal arts, economics and others, will prove our worth. Because there is still need for our specific knowledge. So much for today, talk to you later.

“I clearly need help with my finances” or about my attempts of financial planing

+For a while now I tried to curb my unnecessary spending. I’ve thought about ways to do that and saw I’m not getting anywhere – untill I installed the Toshl Finance mobile app on my phone.On the 21st November I started just putting in every meal (“Hrana”) and drinks (“Pijača”), that I’ve consumed from that day to the end of the month. I continued doing that for the whole December and now January. Later on I’ve added also various expenses (“Razno”), ranging from my phone bills to toothpaste and newspaper/magazines. My main mean of transport is the city bus, so I had to label my monthly bus card under “Avtobus”.

Most of the time I’m spending my money on food and drinks as I’m lucky to have little bills to pay (living with my parents for the moment, so no mortgage or utilities or something like that). Lately I’m not eating that much out + students in Slovenia have government subsidized meals with few places around my college and the university library offering “free” meals (for the price of the subsidy), so that didn’t bother me – I usually eat at home and then just grab a snack here & there from these shops. A whole different thing came when I checked out my expenses for coffees and drinks.

 

Toshl app

My expenses for December 2015 (they’re not complete as I didn’t put in some gifts and other little stuff from the holiday season)

This Viennese coffee culture is certainly present in Maribor: coffee is somewhere around 1.20€, of course you have a lot of friends and you’re doing a lot of projects at the same time and the best place to discuss all of the latest gossip, enviromental issues and how to build your passive income stream is without doubt – the coffeeshop. It’s acctually quite refreshing to see and think about where are you putting your money – with Toshl you can create these great graphs of your expenses, incomes and the relations between them; you can add descriptions, locations to better analyze or remember about the purchase and many more.

My plan for 2016 is to monitor more closely my financial situation (as I sometimes forget to enter my income or expense) to better know myself and my habits and to change them for the better. Financial planing is a rather unheard of practice between young people and we’ve got to change that in order to create a more stable, responsible community (and make enough money to drive that Maserati!) – small steps like this go a long way .

In pursuit of a great story, knowledge, purpose.

I went to the theatre and I liked it!

Sometimes you simply have to go and immerse yourself in art, to broaden your horizons, to better your life.

On saturday (after a really long time) I took the overdue time and went to see the new play of Tomaž Pandur, “Faust” in our biggest theater in Maribor, SNG Maribor.

Fun fact: today SNG Maribor is the largest cultural and artistic institute in Slovenia, which is organised into five units: Drama, Opera, Ballet, Symphonic Orchestra and the Borštnik Festival. (source: SNG Maribor – official site). Dude, five different institutions under one roof – I bet it’s never boring to go to work there.

What more can I say about Pandur and his Faust – visually stunning, symbolic representation of a man, selling his soul to the devil in order to obtain all the world’s knowledge and earthly pleasures… IT WAS CRAZY! Don’t believe me? See it for yourself.

 

 

The show resonated within me for the last 3 days now. It was not only the execution, the visual part of it, that what is seen on the stage – the biggest part of this constant thinking was the story itself. How can you not relate – I mean, this doctor sells his soul to the devil just so he can obtain that what he desires? I kinda reflected on it: aren’t we all the same? Don’t we all share the same, unquenchable thirst to know more, to achieve more? Faster, higher, stronger? To be in control, to be in possession of everything, everyone who we can?

Faust (left) and Mefisto in dialogue. Photo: Marijan Zlobec.

Faust (Igor Samobor, left) and Mephisto (Branko Šturbej, right) in dialogue – talking about the world and stuff. Photo: Marijan Zlobec.

I don’t know about you – but I sure do want to know it all. However this sounds. You can find me usually browsing through one of the numerous tabs on my Chrome browser, seamlessly reading about Charles Darwin’s methodology and work habits, skimming the “top 10 tricks for more productive mornings” whilst checking out prank videos on Facebook/YouTube and tagging my friends in the comment section, so we can laugh (and talk about something) at the next coffee break.

We had a coffee meeting today with some of the closest friends & colleagues. We discussed about different things: our current life, work, how we maintain the life-work balance, “are we working hard or hardly working” (well, at least I asked myself that), business (and personal) plans for 2016 and where the hell did all of our failed previous projects went south? Was it the lack of motivation? Lack of experience? Did we put too much on our plates? Are we functioning well as a team? What is actually happening or better: what are we pursuing?

In pursuit – as in “the act of chasing, following, or trying to obtain”

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary that’s “pursuit”. The act of chasing, following, or trying to obtain. We’re all chasing deadlines (or girls), following the crowd (or the leader), trying to obtain the best results (and as much cash as possible). We’re all a little bit of Faust in at least one aspect of our lives – you’re trying to be the best (or coolest) mom/dad in the world, I’m trying to watch and read as many animes and magazines as possible, he’s trying to become a professional football player and so on.

I asked myself about my pursuits, what I’m chasing in my life? Good career, definitely. What is a good career for me? Job(s) and project(s), where I can be creative, free of meaningless constraints and show my full potential – all while surrounded with great, caring, thoughtful people. Who will not hesitate to say in my face that I suck. Or acknowledge my work when I’ll do a good job.
Meaningful relationships everywhere, home, school, work. To be close with the ones I find the dearest. And to get closer to the ones who’ll be enriching my life, one way or another.
Money and fame. Hell yeah, ain’t afraid to admit it – but on my terms, of course. Doing good deeds, making a positive impact in my community and making a dent in the universe.

 

 

That’s about it: making a dent in universe. While re-reading Faust and trying to avoid his mistakes.

How much does a fail cost?

We have a Slack chat with my friends, where we talk about different business-related topics. Today Žiga, one of the friends, posted this photo:

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Screenshot of Brian Acton’s tweets, the founder of Whatsapp

I didn’t know who this is – Žiga later on told us, that this guy here is the founder of Whatsapp. As we all know, Whatsapp was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for the whooping amount of 19.3 billion dollars! Reading the history of Whatsapp, which is as of september 2015 the most popular messaging application (900 million users!), was pretty much like every other startup/success story: few ups, many downs, many more unexpected turns and then we find ourselves today – talking about this company, discussing what bright things await the founders in the future. At that moment Žiga said to: “So much about the valuation of a fail.”

It hit me: how much does a fail cost? Is failing valuable and at what price?

Brian’s app was clearly deemed as a fail at Twitter and Facebook for some reason – yet later on Facebook acquired them for the unimaginable price tag mentioned before. We can all remember a fail and the good things, that came afterwards: you were in a shitty relationship – after the break-up you started to meet new people, which later on affected your life in a positive way. Same can go for jobs: you quit your soul-sucking job and found out that the freelancer lifestyle is more appropriate for you and so on and so forth.

I have a question for you guys: What is one thing you have failed at? What were the consequences? How did you feel at the moment? What good (or bad) things came afterwards that fail? OK, that’s enough questions for now.

Don’t be shy: hit me up on my Facebook page. If you are more of a minimalist, leave me a tweet – or you can fill up this contact form right here.
I love a good story so I’ll be expecting your posts, tweets and mails – see you!

“You’re an improv actor, you can figure out something!”

Today I had the delight of getting some coffee with my fellow actress Mojca. Mojca and I are both active improv actors in Banda Ferdamana, for the moment the only improv collective in Maribor, Slovenia (for all of you, who don’t know improvisational theatre, expect one detailed piece on it in the near future). They’re one of the most amazing people I’ve ever had a chance to work with, so every minute spent with them certainly isn’t wasted.We had some catching up to do as we haven’t seen each other since the holiday season in December (or even before, don’t know). We’ve discussed about different things, linked to our previous and future projects, one of them including teaching lessons of improv theatre to different groups of people.

Main purpose of these lessons is to inspire people to try out new things, to incorporate some of the improv principles (which are truly helpful, they are!) into their lives and increase their overall creativity and generally speaking improve the quality of either business either personal life. During this talk we came to a conclusion: people are reluctant to participate, always looking for excuses, let it be stage fright or “this thing is stupid/this sucks” argument and other mostly dumb & not fair preconceptions, that they’ve acquired through socializing with different people, who share very much same values and are not to open to new things. Or as we like to call them {insert your word of choice – don’t be mean to them, please}. It got me to think about the perception of improv as an art form in our local area. People think it’s weird. And people think things are weird when they don’t know them.
For some of you, who had the chance to see an improv show, things are really clear: you go on stage, you do something funny and voila – people are laughing, everyone is happy. At the first glance it’s simple: you are a funny guy, doing funny stuff. Don’t worry, you’re a natural, just be yourself and everything will work out.

 

Let me break your bubble – it isn’t so easy, sorry guys.

During my last 6 years of active improvisation (although I’ve been improvising my whole life, he-he) I’ve come to terms with three basic truths about improvisation:

 

  • You’re an improv actor, you can figure out something!” or your ability to improvise will get you through problems – NOT CORRECT

There are times, where improvisation itself is not enough. One time I missed the last few training sessions with my group before our next show. I was confident: “I can do it, I can improvise, no big deal”. I went on the stage, where I was expected to hold a very simple conversation with my fellow actor. I choked at the first reply. It became awkward. I just stood there like frozen. The public noticed – they started to get bored. They felt bad for me, just standing there, not doing anything.

Natural ability gets you to some point – good understanding of basics in improv comes through practice, practice and commitment to your craft leads you to mastery. What about mastery, combined with natural ability? Then you probably become Amy Poehler or Tina Fey or so, if you’re lucky and the stars align at the right time.

  • I’m not cut out to be an improv actor!” – NOT CORRECT.

Anyone can try out improv acting. The whole premise of improv is that everyone is capable of improvising: every single exercise, warm-up game, directions for different scenes are built in such a way, that if you just do things “by the book”, you will end up with a solid scene. Improv values clear structure, coherence in story, comprehensive dialogue and so on – technically speaking, you can be the most obnoxious person in the world and still be liked when on the stage. How about that!

  • Improv actors are the ones, who aren’t talented enough to act in movies and plays, like real actors.” – NOT CORRECT.

I’ve done theatre and improv. I’ve seen great actresses and actors, leading men and women, heroes, femme fatale, outstanding in both roles of tragic Shakespearian or sneaky Commedia dell’arte characters. And they sucked at improv. I’ve seen the most hilarious people you can imagine, reading few lines of some tragedy and they couldn’t connect with the piece. The scene was boring, confusing – what is he doing being serious? Everyone is different – some like to work with text, some like to express themselves more freely. Some like to delve into the depths of their characters, some like to draw a quick sketch of it and focus on other things like complicated plot etc.

There are improv actors, who could easily step in for their more serious fellow actors and there are “serious” actors, who could get me laughing to tears just by stepping onto the stage. It’s up to the actor itself: if he feels comfortable doing comedy, if he possesses enough natural ability to be funny, if he’s visually funny/funny looking etc.

 

 

I’m acctually going to a improv session right now. We at Banda decided to hold an open session tonight, so people can come and see for themselves, what does it mean to do improv theatre. I hope there will be some people – never the less, we’re just getting started. In the next few months we’ll start doing more and more of these lessons, don’t worry: I’ll keep you posted.