Catch Your Moment – a training course on theater improvisation

Never have I ever during my whole artistic and performing career felt confident enough to say that I can do theater or freely apply theater techniques. At the same time, I know that I have to challenge myself in order to grow as an artist and as a person. So when I saw an Erasmus+ opportunity on the topic of theater improvisation, I instantly applied. When I got accepted, I set my mind on the following: to do everything that is out of my comfort zone and be the bravest version of myself in that training course.

The name of the project was “Catch Your Moment” and it had several pillars from using theater improvisation techniques in real life, to enhancing our entrepreneurial mindset, to dealing with the current pandemic situation. 

Catch Your Moment training course on theater improvisation in Plovdiv, Bulgaria

On the very first night, there was this amazing Spotlight exercise, where you have to be in front of the group for 90 seconds, almost literally in the spotlight, you can do whatever you want to do or not do anything (be quiet, or talk, dance, just stare, smile, meditate) but you have to be in the spotlight. When the time is over, everyone receives huge applause from the audience. It is very important to explore and analyze the emotions and feelings before your turn in the spotlight, during, and after the experience. Names were drawn in random order so nobody could know when their turn was, minimizing any chances for “preparation”. An important remark for myself here was to let go and realize that I needed permission from myself to simply be, not caring if my spotlight time was funny, comical, tragical, or anyhow entertaining. It was not about that after all.

Another thing I experienced throughout the training was that movement unblocks creativity. So when you feel stuck for ideas and don’t know what to do or say, just move your body. Your body has a lot of wisdom. It also sends the signals to the brain that it’s moving, that it’s working. So if the mind is blocked, just move the body and send a signal that it’s working. It may work miracles and inspire your mind. On the other hand, when your mind is too busy, too occupied with thoughts, and you cannot clearly think, then it’s always a good idea to relax the body, therefore, emptying the mind.

The story of the bear with covid certificates was the result of a game of successive storytelling. Four people were supposed to contribute to the story starting from the first person setting the environment and shaping the protagonist. The second person with continue with the friend of the hero and the adventure they would go on together. The third one will create the main conflict, the antagonist, and the circumstances. After the conflict, the last person would recap the story, share the morals, and reach the conclusion.

One of the biggest challenges that I’ve had in my life happened during this project – a LARP game. LARP stands for live-action role-play – an endeavor that involves people taking in different roles in a situation, trying to live the characters and the situations, and acting and improvising together to develop the whole story. I volunteered for the demonstration and I had no idea what was coming. It requires an incredible amount of improvisation skills like listening to the other people on stage, adapting quickly, responding, and being able to know when to keep quiet, when to talk, and what to say. It really was like living the role, feeling the character, and talking and acting like that person. My biggest accomplishment was that I managed to let go of constantly judging myself, or caring about the opinions of the people who were watching as an audience. That really helped me play the character. I received very encouragingly positive feedback after the LARP that my acting was convincing and trustful and people could totally see me as the person who I was embodying. By the way, I was the coworker of the deceased in the story. 

Another lovely experiment was the impro dancing and doing that with a partner and other pairs on stage, trying to balance the space while playing around with improvised switching between leading and following. I needed to live the experience of following in this dance (since I’m usually teaching and leading). My partner in this was a very talented dancer who improvized an amazingly hard routine so it was both challenging for me to follow and rewarding for me to be able to keep up.

And the biggest opportunity seized during the training course was our final improv performance where we (a group of 6 women) had to perform a piece of up to 10-minutes performance on a topic given by another group. So the title of our show was “30 people in a room”. I really enjoyed the process of making it, the dynamics in our group were not an easy one definitely. I’m happy we experienced the real magic of improvisation on stage. Being able to keep eye contact, following all the partners on stage, being able to respond, knowing when to be quiet, when to do something, when to say something – it was just an amazing experience and energy that’s hard to describe. Dealing with the unknown in a peaceful way and not judging the outcomes are such powerful and beautiful things to experience. And we did the performances in a real theater (Hand Theather), on a real stage, in the real spotlight of many many lights, with a very supportive boutique audience.

The main pillars of improvisation are acceptance, dealing with the unknown, partner work, listening with a willingness to understand, being spontaneous, and letting yourself fail. I’m happy I have managed to explore all those qualities by myself or working together with amazingly open-minded people for a week’s time. I feel very committed to taking advantage of the things I learned and experienced and applying them to as many spheres of life as possible.

I believe we can use improvisation and more specifically theater improvisation methods in many areas of life. In everyday communication and situations, in building our mindset, in dealing with tough situations, in working and family environments.

My main takeaway and mantra here would be: “Let yourself do something that seems very hard, do not judge yourself.  Don’t focus on the outcome so much. Being able to enjoy the process is equally important if not even more important.  Just be open to perceive the world around you and your time will come. Catch your moment!”.

Catch Your Moment training course on theater improvisation in Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Catch Your Moment was an Erasmus + KA Training Course organized by Smokinya Foundation. Some of the photo moments in this article were captured by Vladan Ćetojević. If you’re interested in Erasmus+ projects or want to know how you can benefit from them, do let us know!

Do you like this post?

Travel with us and share our journey on Instagram! Do you want to support us – learn how here!

Keep up with our latest travel adventures and projects!
Subscribe for our Traveletter!

Leave a Reply