Thinking about improv today. My first improv troupe imploded in a burst of fragmentation and bloody fur. My second improv troupe has been like a semi-mythical beast, occasionally appearing before stunned onlookers, but mostly slumbering beneath the ground, leading to rumors that the beast is extinct/mythical. My next one is scheduled to do some opening benefit shows in May. Big hopes for this, but I'll be moving soon after. What I've seen of improv in Charlotte (one show) was painfully student-level.
What I want in an improv troupe:
It gets this article.
Long form improv that's actual improv, not ad-libbing around a preordained story structure.
Long form shows that are crafted through rehearsed improv, carefully honed. The best long-form show I ever did, Scandal Shmandal, masterminded by Chris Davis and the Solar Monarch, began with a few simple ideas. We played with those ideas for weeks, basically improving a whole show every rehearsal, keeping things that worked, letting the show take shape until we had something we couldn't wait to share with an audience. We weren't doing much real improv live onstage, but we used improv as a showmaking tool to create something wonderful that couldn't have happened any other way.
Performers have to have rich ideas, rich performance skills, in-the-moment awareness. They have to know how to use suggestions as the cornerstones of creation, rather than as irksome details to be referenced and dropped ASAP.
We're all learning, but beginners shouldn't be fundamental to the main shows; it
s not fair to anyone. Let students learn at a reasonable pace. When I started improvising I wanted to take a class or something before being thrust into the middle of a full-bore show. That wasn't an option in the 'Ham, so I had to go from audition to holding my own in paying gigs a little too fast... You gotta get on your feet, but a troupe that pushes fledgling performers out too soon is killing itself.
Something like Charles Ludlam's Ridiculous Theatre is what I want, but perhaps without a single writer.