This week I returned Lee Simpsons course and just like the first time, I learnt a hell of a lot. At the beginning of the lesson we re-visited the one word at a time game and really focussed on the aim of the game. A lot of the time in that game we focus on the past and the future but not the present which is crazy as I never realised this before and as soon as it was pointed out I noticed that this is an easy thing to fall into with this game. We looked at this game by focussing it in the present and it was amazing just how different it was to play and to watch.
Last time I spoke about Lee Simpsons course we discussed the idea of Float, Fly and Mold well there was one that we hadn’t learnt and that is what we looked at this week – Radiation. With this skill you have to imagine that there is a fire coming from your chest that is radiating your body movements. When you do this one you feel like Iron Man and I couldn’t stop imagining being that character with the lights in his body. It was a really interesting concept.
After having a go at this we then changed focus and this time worked on a concept around the theatre – I cannot remember who the theorist was but it was very interesting. Lee asked us to imagine that in front of us was an auditorium in the Victorian era and that the people that are there to see you are the people in the cheap seats up the top and you have to make sure that your voices can be heard and that you are performing for them. We then went on one by one like we were on the stage and said our name throwing it to the top audience – it worked really well and automatically created characters. It was also a very interesting tool to use to approach the stage with.
We focused on another ideology this time by Arnold Mindell – this is all about the Dreambody state and theatre. Lee Simpson described in way better then I will but the basis of it is that there is a a dreamlike state that we should aim to try and perform in and that is sort of where improv sort of lies. There is also an extreme dreamlike state called an essence and this is absolutely rare to come across but is when you feel completely connected to a scene and everything is in sync and you feel the moment. These experiences that we have in the dreamlike state can enrich our everyday lives and our shows. Again I am probably not explaining this correctly as it is really complex but you can read about it here.
This week we had the last Punders show of the year as well which was Halloween themed. It was fun to play on the theme and it was also fun to play a mixture of old an new improv games.
Case Study: Blink-182
I always like to write a review when I see a concert but the other Friday was too special to me that I didn’t want to. I have been a Blink-182 fan since I was a teenager and to me they are the reason I started learning guitar, they have been there for me through thick and thin and basically they have been a huge impact on my life and I owe them a lot.
However, when Tom left the band it had a huge impact on me. This frustration didn’t come because of Matt Skiba joining the band like a lot of people had issues, no, I really like his music and been listening to Alkaline Trio since I was a teen – I wasn’t a fan that you could not hear his musical styles in the album. Saying that Nine created a U-turn and it allowed me to fall in love with the band again because Matt Skiba was present loud and clear.
So why am I talking to you about Blink-182 in an article about improvisation? Well, referring back to Arnold Mindell, his theory above says (or what my understanding from Lees lesson) it is rare to get a dream state essence where everything is perfect and you feel connected with the world around you.
I had managed to get tickets for their intimate gig that they were doing in London for the album launch and I was really looking forward to it. About 48 hours before the show I was asked to change my work shifts last minute to do a night shift and I agreed, meaning I would only have three hours sleep before the gig which was fine.
The night I came into work I had the first surreal moment of the 24 hour period – they were on the show i was working on. This completely and utterly surprised me and the first thing I did was beg the Ents producer to meet them. In the morning I was lucky enough to meet them and it was such a surreal experience – my throat went incredibly dry and I didn’t really know what to say to Matt or Mark, all i managed was I am coming to your show tonight to Matt and thank you to Mark.
I left work feeling surreal and went to sleep and then headed to the show. I wasn’t at the front of the queue but due to getting through security quickly I ended up at the front of the barrier. Surreal experience number 3. The gig was amazing and it made me so happy to see Mark and Matt perform acoustically. It was so nice to hear them together and it made me adore their new line up. The surreal day got more surreal at the end of the gig where Matt looked directly at me and asked me if I wanted his plectrum he played the whole show with before asking anyone else if they wanted his plectrums. It was so surreal and the memory of that whole day has not left me.
I think that to me this what that Dreamlike Essence is, that to me was the perfect day, whilst Tom who is my inspiration and hero isn’t part of Blink anymore and I didn’t get to meet him that didn’t actually matter to me. It was such a surreal 24 hours and I have now gained a bigger admiration for Matt that I am now addicted to listening to the Sekrets and Alkaline Trio on repeat and I have to say a new hero has been born to me because he didn’t have to remember me and he did and considering it was 12 hours later and the conversation was a couple of words in the morning. That to me is magic that I will never forget.