I don't care! Wait, that can't be true.
In a recent post-show notes session someone made a comment (I can't even remember what the comment was at this point) and the first thing that popped into my head was, "I don't care". I caught the thought and made a note of it because it was so out of my norm. Thing is I do care. I care A LOT. Notes went on and we dispersed. Since then I've had time to reflect on this stray thought and what it really means.
Unraveling the "I don't care" ties back to my own fundamental values when I'm performing. I go into a show thinking that I'm here to have fun, take care of others, and see what happens together. I don't worry about random moments, who is sitting in the audience, or how many scenes were "my" scenes.
The audience pays for the performances. Because of that it is the job of improvisers to be professional. Coming from that place for me means when I arrive at the theater, I leave my personal baggage in the car. You'll hear many say leave it at the door, I like to leave it even further away. I do this so that I can focus on the moment. "I don't care" about what else is going on in the world for a bit.
To get to this state of mind, I have a couple of rituals. The first is my improv playlist I listen to on the drive over. If I am in some heavy emotional turmoil then before leaving my car I do some breathing exercises or even a quick 1-3 minute meditation (I personally use the App called Headspace, they have short meditations).
I am there to perform something that has yet to be created. So "I don't care" how many scenes I am in or if my idea came to fruition. There are so many moving parts in a performance. My job is to support those parts and some nights that means editing a scene or being in the background.
"I don't care" who is in the audience. Since I'm a gatekeeper, teacher, and coach, there is always going to be someone in the audience that I interact with off stage in those other capacities. It takes time and practice to get to a point where you just play and not worry if your students or other performers are watching you and even judging you. We can put a lot of pressure on ourselves to do "good" improv.
In addition to just putting the time in to get to this point, there are a couple of other things I can do if I feel the weight of responsibility creeping into my performance. I take note that it is beginning to happen and put all my focus into my scene partners. I ensure I am listening to them, not my lizard brain. I use "you" statements as a way to ensure focus. If I'm focused on my scene partner then I can't be focused on anything else.
Taking the time to reflect helps us get better for the next time. Next time, "I don't care" bubbles up, I'll know what that means.