Around The World: “THE SANDWICH THEORY” by Jacob Banigan

I always say, don’t stay in your backyard, open to the world. But I know it may not be easy. That’s why I’m bringing a little world to your backyard. From today and now on, here on my blog, I’ll be publishing guest articles written by great improvisers and teachers from all over the world. The first goes amazing Jacob Banigan from Canada/Austria, who I had the pleasure to work with in Barcelona. Articles will be available in English and, what is the point, translated to Polish. Are you happy? 🙂 Have fun. And learn. Feel free to discuss and share your own ideas!

 

THE SANDWICH THEORY
Jacob Banigan

Let’s consider an Impro Show to be a Sandwich.
Picture any sandwich you like.
Food is layered between bread on a plate in front of you. OK?
That’s the show. Each impro show is made up of LAYERS, whether we are aware of them or not. If we are aware of the layers, we can better play with them to enhance our experience.
And although each layer is tasty in it’s own way, you can’t separate them and consume them one after the other, like a weirdo. They really must all be experienced together in each bite. That’s how we do it.
Moment to Moment, Bite for Bite.

You have arranged your life, your time and money with a plan to consume this experience. But before we eat it, let’s look at what it’s made of.

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Love. Life. Improv

You’re a Single improviser. Just broke up after long relationship. It hurts when your ex starts new project before you. You feel free, but you don’t know what to do. You meet exciting new people and start some affairs, projects, maybe one night stand, maybe something more. You are very excited, following the adventures. You’re blooming, you’re on fire, creative, sexy, intelligent. Sometimes your experiments are disappointing, but you can forget about them quickly. If you want, you can have different affair in every city, like a sailor.

But it can be exhausting. You travel, you bring all the experience back, and suddenly you feel, that you have no one to share it with. Of course, you have your kids, your students, that you are taking care of, and they are always waiting for you to come home, and teach what you’ve learned. But you have your kids in your school. And you get back to your empty house, and you feel lonely.

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What I’ve learned about Polish improv, by going abroad.

It’s been a year since I joined Ohana, an international group of improvisers from all over Europe. We meet three times a year, to work together, to develop, and to build a network  across the Old Continent. In the meantime, I had the pleasure to participate in two international festivals, to perform and learn – BIG IF in Barcelona, and IMPRO Amsterdam.

I opened the gate of my backyard and discovered that the world is very big.

But I don’t exactly want to talk about what I saw on the other side of the gate, but what I saw in my backyard, looking from the other side of the fence. So – how I looked at the Polish improv from the distance and what I’ve learned.

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Most important rule of improv. Ohana.

As you may know, I’m lucky to be in Ohana, the international “Family” of improvisers. During our meetings and workshops I always have with me my Improv Notebook, in which I gather questions and answers about many improv topics. During our week in Slovenia, in september, we were talking about thing like, how to deal with the bad show, about the strangest and most horrible shows, about most common styles of improv in our countries, and much more.

We were also talking about improv rules. There are many, but if you had to choose just one, the most important for you, what would that be? I chose to write about this topic first, because I believe, and I always say, that there is no One And The Only Truth, and One True Improv. If you want to create, and not just re-create, you must search for your own way, and your own sensitivity. And only you decide, what’s most important to you. Of course, all of the below are great improvisers, learning all the time, and developing all of the skills. Take a look, in how many ways you can see basicly the same things.

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Ohana means (improv) family.

I came back from the best improv week of my life. A few days after returning from Slovenia, I’m still thinking about it, and celebrating this fire in my heart. People ask me – what exactly is Ohana? And I think, and see images and feelings, trying to answer in one sentence. And you know what? It’s not that easy.

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Improv practice # 4 – what do you have to say?

“Think, who should you be to have the right to speak to the people from stage?” – I’ve read in a magazine, lying on the beach, during my non-improv-vacations. I sighed heavily, because what kind of vacation is this, when the idea came to my blanket and I now is sending me kisses.

This sentence was recalled by the actress, in an interview. She heard it from the professor, while studying in acting school. And that is the first question I would like you to think about.

I warn you. In this text there’ll be more questions than answers. And it’s your job to answer. To yourself.

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