Teaching improvisers in Barcelona to play Bigger Faster Stronger

It’s been a busy couple of weeks since returning from the US of A. I can’t believe November is nearly done, but it is, and it’s been rammed full of fun and exhausting activities.

I’ve been off to Barcelona for the BIG IF improv festival, hosted CRUMBS here in Amsterdam, and now getting ready for a staged reading of the finest Shakespearean adaptation of the Coen Brothers’ most popular movie. Which is next week. After that all settles, I’m hoping for a quieter December.

But just a little quieter.
Barcelona Improv Group Improv Festival
Barcelona was a blur of improv adventures, seeing old friends and family, making new friends and eating dinner after midnight.

The workshop I was teaching is called Bigger Faster Stronger, and it’s all about making bigger choices and attacking the stage, but also feeling more confident and playful – essentially: let your brain catch up with your mouth, surprise yourself, don’t censor, don’t plan, start in the middle, and so forth.

Getting that out in workshop format took some doing, but I found the space to do it, and people really responded. There was some phenomenal work that took place each of the three days I taught it, and I’m now super-keen to teach it again.

On the final night I did an improv set with a collection of strangers from eleven different countries. ONly we didn’t perform as strangers, we created a team known as Assorted Birds and did a format we invented called the Birdnado. I’m not going to lie: it was incredible.

Also of note is how the improv community is getting bigger as the world is getting smaller. I shared a room with Mike Brown (of the Mike Brown Solo Improv Extravaganza) from New York and Mayday friends Heather and Joe from Brighton.

The festival team in Barcelona put it all together in just a few months, and as a festival organiser myself, I have to say I was damn impressed and more than a little inspired. Hopefully it bodes well for Slapdash 2014.

A tender CRUMBS moment

When I returned home it was straight into finalizing the CRUMBS show and workshop I had planned. I had been panicking because tickets weren’t selling as well as I had hoped, and yet, after much last-minute scrambling and more than a little needless worrying, the theater was full on Friday night, for what turned out to be an excellent show. And not only that, I got to play with some of my favourite improvisers (from Amsterdam and Winnipeg).  And then watch the CRUMBS do their thing.

The Two Gentlemen of Lebowski
Instead of taking a break I’m well into directing a staged reading of The Two Gentlemen of Lebowski for Orange Tea Theater. It’s a brilliant Shakespearean adaptation of The Big Lebowski, and it’s all coming together. I was just lighting up the Mezrab, and building props, and on tuesday, we’ll have a full performance, including a bar serving White Russians. Hopefully there will be a good turnout for that, and we can make November three for three, in terms of excellent theatrical adventures that turned out to be worth all of the stress involved in the run-up.

And then, onto December, which for those of you keeping track, will mark both the final month of the calendar year, and the final month of my first year being a self-employed freelancey theater writer person. Which means a lot of casting glances behind and wistful gazes forward.