There’s one month left to Mt. Olymprov Festival in Athens, Greece, and you can expect pretty big crowd of Polish improvisers. It’s not the first time, when we’re going somewhere with such a big group. I’ve heard several times positive things starting with “You, Polish people in festivals…” so I decided to give it a closer look. From the inside, and from the outside, with bigger context of different cultural behaviours. Below you can see the examples based on majority, of course. That may have nothing to do with you. You can make an alternative list. Now. Question. From 1 to 12, how do you fit Polish Style?
- Gather a team.They opened applications to a festival you wanna go? Let your friends know. Let your local community know, let your students know. And when you gather a group, make a fb/whatsapp/any chat, do a research together, check the flights, advise one another, travel together, share your big luggage. And then keep that chat, because you will use it during festival, asking “Where are you guys? Who wants to grab some lunch?
- Prepare.First of all, if you can, don’t arrive straight to the festival, give yourself a day to look around, or a day after the festival to see the city, and feel the vibe. You probably traveled from far away, enjoy the traveling. Next, prepare all the tickets, addresses, download some maps, check the weather (oh this hand luggage full of useless clothes). Do some research, book a spot in the workshop that excites you. Workshops are filling quickly. Flights are getting more expensive with time. Mt. Olymprov starts in a month, and we already have a chat with 20 people, and we know, who’s coming when, and where, where do they sleep, which workshops are they taking. We. Are. Ready.
- Take care of yourself.Three words: Electrolytes, vitamin, water. If you want to party like Polish people, you need your health. As we say, It’s better to prevent, than to cure. Keep up in a healthy style. If you easily get a sun burn, get a sunscreen. If you’re allergic, take your pills. If you have a new shoes, take some plasters (ouch, those sandals…). If you need a sleep, go to sleep, don’t force yourself, you need to be alive for several days. If you’re a wreck after two days, you’re like Matthew Perry, Chandler, who admitted, that he doesn’t really remember filming half of the “Friends”.
- Act like a (poor) boss.No need to pretend, making a living is hard in Poland already, and when you go abroad, everything EVERYWHERE is 2-3 times more expensive. So, instead of being surprised, just enjoy this beer in a lovely park with friends (instead of fancy craft beer in a bar), and this lovely local fruit and bread (instead of fancy lunch in a wonderful katalan restaurant).
- Party hard (and dance).If you’ve met us at least once, you know what I’m talking about. We are the GLADIATORS of festival parties. Yes, it comes with swimming through the river of beer, but we never swim too far. When the party’s over, we go to sleep. We panic, when we go to a festival where the party ends at 1am. When we start talking about improv, hours go like minutes. When someone has an idea, what to do now, we will add something to that. When nobody’s dancing, we’ll take the dancefloor bigtime, and after 10 minutes half of the people will be dancing with us, like in Barcelona. When there is no dancefloor at all, we will find a little corner or corridor for that, we will find a little speaker and an emergency party playlist on Spotify. BUT! We’re not getting crazy, when we know we have to teach or perform the next day. Then it’s your responsibility to get some proper rest, and leave the party in the best moment with dignity and a tear in your eye. Then you may have memories like me, when I got back right after the shows, I went to bed in Barcelona and heard swearing from the bed above. That was Kasia, who was about to perform with me the next day. “What happened?” I asked. “I can’t sleep”. And we were there, in a darkness, listening for 10 minutes to sounds of the party from outside the window. Swearing again. “Should we go back there?” “NO! Just fall asleep, goddamit.” And we did. BOOM, responsibility, bitches!
- Play inappropriate party games.Ok, it’s not like it’s OUR speciality. In Greece for example the loudest voices were French! Let’s admit, we can’t just pass the table hearing “Who in this table…” “I’ve never…” “Who would you…” Those games will not bring new value to our lives. I’d say, the longer we play them, the more degenerate they get. Who was in last Podaj Wiosło festival in Gdańsk? Right… And if you’ve never seen people playing those games, that means you go to sleep before 3am.
- Get up for the workshops.Doesn’t matter how long did you party, how much did you drink and dance. You signed up, you payed, you came to learn, so you get up and go. Even when you end the party at 7am and you need leave for the workshop at 9am. Then you just sit up, keep repeating “I can’t”, looking at your friends straightening her hair, and then suddenly you feel the power, you dress up and go. On time, of course, like you see in the next point.
- Be punctual.You don’t need to tell us that. When it comes to being on time for a workshop, or taking the seats in a theatre. That’s what schedules are for. And clocks. And then we’re in a shock, sitting there like idiots or nerds, while people just keep slowly coming for a half an hour. What do you mean, the show won’t start on time? What about next ones then? In Italy, where I was teaching a three day workshop, we had a showcase last night with all the groups. It started after 22.00, late, but ok, Italy. But I went on stage with my group at 1:30am! Whaaaaat? And in Bulgaria? I came early to the workshop I was teaching, as normally, and nobody was there yet. At time, there was a half of the group. I asked, what happened, and someone said “they’ll keep coming for a half an hour, that’s normal.” “HALF AN HOUR?” I asked. “This workshop takes only three hours!”. “Yeah, so, they still have two and a half hour” Baltic shock confirmed.
- Take naps.We’re not robots. You need to regenerate, if you’re not sleeping at night. Anything will do, a sofa, a dressing room, a beach. Just make sure your friends are keeping eye on you, so you can wake up on time with all your belongings. This point actually doesn’t work for me, I can’t usually sleep during the day, but my sister can, and she recommends it.
- Rock the stage.Apply to Mixer shows. Apply with your teams. And when you’re on that stage, be brave and have fun, and with that you will confirm what people say about us.
- Make friends.Be good to people. Take care of your friends, and be open to new people, and don’t be scared, don’t get intimidated. Doesn’t matter the nationality, or status in community, all improvisers are kind and curious about others. You can find soulmates in our art, and those relationships won’t end with few comments under the fb pictures. Seeing the sun together after party may end with starting the Polish-French-Greek group of friends, The Allnighters, staying in touch for whole year, and waiting for another festival to celebrate the anniversary. Night talks about life on the Greek street may cause meeting in Berlin few months later, for the Birthday Show. You can’t even imagine what can grow from the festival seeds. And at some point you may sit at home in the middle of the night, and need to talk, and you can be sure that you can find a friend having a coffe break in New York or Melbourne right now, ready to talk.
- Build the legend.“Oh, you’re from Poland too? Right, you have such strong and wonderful female improvisers.” – I’ve heard in Barcelona. “You’re from Poland? You guys are everywhere with such a big group!” and then I asked surpried “Everywhere? Like… where?” “Like Barcelona for example!” And that’s how legends start. Let’s make them good 🙂
So, how many points did you get? If not many, that proves we’re all individuals. What points would you add? Every group and nationality has own cultural background and behaviours. And if you have many points… that proves, that no matter the nationality, we’re all improvisers 🙂
Thanks Gosia for nice article. I will follow your detailed instructions for our group from Munich, so we spend a great time in Sofia, like you Polish people do in your festivals. I hope to meet some of you there! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us! Lucho