Well, there are no two ways about it; I had a terrible gig. For me it’s not a hobby, it’s my career and it cuts me to the quick to be bad at improv. At the same time, it’s nice to be able to diagnose what I did wrong and re-learn the lessons that have got me through this stuff before.
I forgot the Bene Gesserit litany against fear:
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.”
I got all up in my head about me and how good or bad I was being and going to be. I didn’t support my scene partners and I forgot to trust that they were looking out for me.
My team have discussed in the past that it’s not enough to have a chat or a burger, but that we need to play a handful of games to get on the same page. We even have a cache of games ready to go as ‘our’ warm up, that serve the style and the philosophy of our work and we just plain didn’t do any of them.
I saw another team and thought they were good. I worried that they were better than me. So they were.
A few people told me they really enjoyed the set and that it was super fun. I needed to take the compliment, not invent reasons why they might have been lying to me, or just being polite. They enjoyed it. They were right to have enjoyed it.
I have a whole blog on perception right here.
If I were my student, here is the advice I would give myself:
Katy: I had a terrible gig.
Katy: Really? Why was that?
Katy: I just got up in my head and I fucked it.
Katy: Well, we all have bad gigs. Happily, the more experienced you get, the less they come up. You get a better hit-rate of good gigs the more you do.
Katy: But it totally sucked and I want to die.
Katy: I often find that when I have a rough time in improv, it’s because I have moved my own bar. A gig that I felt good about 10 years ago might feel really poop today. I often perceive that I have bad gigs for short periods when I am learning new things and trying to apply them. It’s a good thing; it means I am learning. There’s a whole blog about that here.
Katy: I feel really awful about it. It makes me depressed.
Katy: I love the idea that you should never feel bad about a gig for longer than the gig took. I came across that in the Pam Victor article The Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda Game.
Katy: I’ve already thought about it for way longer than it lasted.
Katy: Bad gigs mean that there is stuff to work on and that’s what rehearsals are for. Make sure that you get together with your team right after a show and only share what you enjoyed about it. Later, in rehearsals, you can actively work on things to make the show better. Good shows are super fun, but bad shows give you lots of great stuff to work on.
Katy: Thanks Katy, you’re ace.
Katy: No worries Katy. You’re ace too. Stop being so hard on yourself.
[Katy gives Katy a hug]
There are many blogs! Search here for unlisted topics or contact me.
Katy Schutte is a London-based improviser who teaches improv classes in London, Europe and the States. Katy performs with Project2, The Maydays and Destination. See her live show dates for upcoming shows.
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