Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Forgiving Audience

     Tonight is my improv showcase.  At the end of each semester, WIT puts on a student showcase where each class performs a set ranging from 12 to 18 minutes, depending on the class.  This semester I took two classes- level 1A again, and level 2: character.  This means I get to be in the showcase for  27 minutes.
     I've been debating on changing between sets.  About 2 seconds after raising the question, I realize it's preposterous.  Why would I change?  So people don't recognize me?  I would love it if people recognized me.  Unless I do something terrible in the first set and need to wear a bag over my head for the second.  However, changing my shirt is not going to create enough doubt that it was me.  If anything it'll just make people think "Oh, the inappropriate girl changed her shirt, hoping we wouldn't recognize her and call her names.  Who does she think she is, Madonna?"  Plus, in my experience, the audience for the showcase is incredibly forgiving.
     It's a group of friends and family who you've sheepishly asked to attend.  They paid $0 to get in.  They are expecting nothing.  If you can manage to walk on the stage and make sounds with your mouth, they'll be thrilled.  Anything above that is completely amazing to them.  They laugh at things that sometimes make you think "that's what you're laughing at?"  And then some of the pressure goes away.
     Last semester I started a scene reading a newspaper.  A fellow player came out and commented on the news, and in about three lines I had insulted her and all people who don't finish high school.  I was mildly appalled at myself, but the audience was up for it.  They are very forgiving.
     They were also very forgiving during a scene about an abusive husband.  I remember wiping the scene perhaps prematurely after the line "this is why we shouldn't teach women to read."  I felt like I may be blatantly admitting I didn't want to do a scene like that and perhaps I was breaking some improv rules by not letting it progress.  On the other hand, the edit was warranted, and got a bigger laugh than the line did.  The audience was right there with me.
     The showcase is a great way to cut your teeth performing.  It's a safe place.  The audience knows you or at least knows someone who knows you.  They're already on board with the concept that you just learned this stuff and they're there to be encouraging.  You learn how performing like that can be such a communal experience.  They'll laugh at the face you didn't know you were making, and they don't know your go-to character is a bad Sling Blade impression; they'll think it's genius.
     I'm cool calm and collected now, and I'll pretend to be that way for the entire night, but about 10 minutes before we go on, I'll have butterflies.  It always happens, with everything.  Every bit of public speaking, presentation, first day, etc.  Any moment when you get butterflies in your stomach, I get them.  But I choose to push through them.  Because the end result is always better.  People often worry about failing at these things, but really, the only way to fail is to do nothing.  If you just make any sounds or do anything, someone there will support it.  And the audience will love it, because they're really forgiving. 

No comments:

Post a Comment