Full Spectrum Improvisation by Joya Cory

“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity.” ~ Carl Jung There is a word of ancient Greek origin, metaxis, which means belonging to two worlds at the same time: the inner world of the psyche and the outer world of material reality. It is the simultaneous awareness, and the merging of these realities, that I find most exciting about theater, especially improvisational theatre. From within this heightened state of aliveness we have full access to our imaginations, our intuition, our most resonant dreams and stories. For the open-hearted explorer, the world of improvisation offers great rewards: new freedom of body and voice, the pleasure of discovery, the energy that is released as we access “characters” that live within us, the satisfaction of give and take with others. In short: deep fun. “The actor imagines with his body. He cannot avoid gesturing or moving without responding to his own internal images.” ~ Michael Chekov For the actor, connecting body, voice & imagination is essential. When I studied, in the late 1970’s with members of Jerzy Grotowski’s famed Polish Laboratory Theatre, we were taught that ” everything must come from and through the body”. Grotowski believed that: “ We do not possess memory, our entire body is memory and it is by means of the body memory that impulses are released.” Character transformation is physical transformation and we approach it by exploring the possibilities and endless variations of physical shape, gait, breathing, gesture, resonance of the voice. Stanislavski in his later work focused on physical actions to penetrate into the sphere of feelings. Physical preparedness supports and expands any acting technique: method acting, Trigger, Meisner technique… In FULL SPECTRUM IMPROVISATION classes we always begin with a thorough warm up. We move the body, voice and psyche into a state of readiness. We develop flexibility and receptivity. FULL SPECTRUM has at it’s base different structures than those used in comedy improv or, at the other end of the stylistic spectrum, dance based improvisation. Yet FULL SPECTRUM Improvisation has much in common with both of those forms. The material is spontaneously created and the basic assumption of ensemble co-operation, accepting your partners’ “offers”, and building on what’s given: the YES, AND principle, is intrinsic to all successful improvised performing. Beyond that however, lies a world of possibilities. One of the primary reasons to perform improvisation is to take your audience with you on a journey of discovery and surprise. The most successful pieces are born from impulses that come from the immediate realities of player and environment, especially the actors’ connection to each other. “Full blown artistic creativity takes place when a trained and skilled grown up is able to tap the source of clear, unbroken, play consciousness of the small child within.” ~ Stephen Nachmanovitch, FREE PLAY, Improvisation in Life and Art Improvisational theatre is wonderfully suited as a tool for personal transformation because the instrument in this art form is the self and our training leads us into self exploration. It can also provide the needed release of both laughter and tears. For the actor or non actor, Full Spectrum Improvisation practice expands creativity by coaxing away barriers to authentic self expression, the most common barrier being the inner critic. So, a big part of our training is about releasing ourselves from judgment & meeting our need for trust, so that we can enjoy being transparent. Within the exercises and structures for ensemble, duo and solo, we listen to one another and support each person’s search for a unique voice. We enjoy the present reality and embrace it for the human drama it is.

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