While I was writing my last blog “We Are Not Alone” there was still a tiny voice inside, whispering that I was overstating my case, (and rationalizing that the overstatement was for a good cause). After a couple of weeks of google searches and link clicking, that voice has been stilled. The Age of Improvisation is well underway. Not only are we not alone, it's getting positively crowded out here in the improv universe.
I was going to write a quick series of blogs about how people are researching, writing about, talking about, exploring, and practicing improvisation, with lots of examples, but I have found out I was hopelessly optimistic. There is SO MUCH out there that it’s not going to be quick. But I promise you I will keep doing it, and sharing what I find with you in the links section of my website, and on this blog.
I love seeing all these people doing research into every little aspect of improvisation. I love reading about all the different ways people are thinking about improvisation and researching it. A mere 30 years ago, I could hardly get anyone to talk to me seriously about improvisation as a subject of practice and serious study, so every one of these papers and research projects seems precious, and I find myself wishing I could be involved with each one.
But the fact is, I’m a nuts and bolts kind of researcher, a get your hands dirty improviser, and I really belong on the front lines, where people are actively improvising and figuring out how to improvise. My book is not called “A Practical Guide” for nothing. My real love and talent is in figuring out how all this academic stuff translates into real world improvising, and how to communicate that knowledge and insight with other improvisers, in language we can all use and understand.
Just to give you a taste of how much improv stuff is out there, here’s a quick couple of links - much more to come!
If you're looking for written materials, here's a good place to start - Carl Bergstroem-Nielsen’s annotated bibliography of Experimental Improvisation Practice and Notation references over 650 writings from 1949 to the present.
Wanta play Games? The Improv Encyclopedia has tons of neatly categorized games from the improv comedy realm.
How about improvisation as "a crucial model for political, cultural, and ethical dialogue and action"? See the Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice research project.
Scientists are researching how improvisation effects the brain. See a fun Ted Talk about the study called "Your Brain on Improv", or read the full research article Neural Substrates of Spontaneous Musical Performance
Improvisation is truly everywhere. I've seen articles, blogs, and books on improvisation from the viewpoint of business and business management, therapies of all kinds, engineering, the practice of law, decorating, philosophy, cooking, and just plain living a better and happier life.
Along with my usual musings and articles about group improvisation, I'll be sharing some of my favorites with you in coming blog postings!