Intimacy and Improv
Martin de Maat is often quoted as saying, "You know what intimacy is? It's into-me-you-see...it's allowing someone to know who you are when you have all these defenses to keep them from knowing".
So often people think of intimacy as something between romantic partners. Yes, there is that kind of intimacy, there is also the kind that is experienced between people you choose to allow to get to know you. Those who see through your defenses and share so much with you that you can't help but be a better person because of them.
Deep listening creates intimacy. Uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure puts us in vulnerable positions and strengthens intimacy. It's about truth. Showing someone who you are. Who you REALLY are and knowing the person is going to remain by your side.
Oof, no wonder intimacy is scary!
Listening. Uncertainty. Risk. Emotional truth. Vulnerable. Authentic.
All of this is also the hallmark of improv. Really fucking good improv. The kind of improv where you are laughing so hard one moment, deeply moved the next, and forever changed when you leave.
It's one thing to be vulnerable to a moment on stage and react authentically to that moment. It's another to allow intimacy into your improv relationships.
I don't believe all improv relationships require deep intimate relationships. There isn't a need for that in a one time team or even group ensemble that works well together. There are definitely teams that will never attain intimacy either and can still be enjoyable to watch.
When it does happen it changes everything.
It changes you. Your partner. Your audience. Your community. Your world. And it's changed for the better.
I've been improvising for a long time and I'm confident in my abilities. I've done all kinds of forms, formats, large ensemble, solo shows, and duo sets and each time I've learned so much about myself and the art of improv. These days I'm lucky because I am able to bring true intimacy to my work and onto the improv stage.
It took me a long time to find the right mix of elements including some serious bold moves of opening up myself completely and bringing down all my defenses.
It didn't just happen overnight either. It was a slow process with pauses, breaks, bumps, and bruises along the way. When I hit a very big speed bump I almost pulled completely back and with that almost put back up all my defenses.
Thing is because of improv, facing the fear is something that has become my norm so I sat in that fear and then I told fear it wasn't welcome and walked through to the other side.
I don't regret that choice for a single moment.
My improv partner in many ways knows me better than I know myself. I can be my authentic, sappy, messy, vulnerable, and my complete human self. I don't have to hide, change, or even adjust my style or aesthetic both on and off the stage.
I know no matter the set we put up we have each other through to the end.
There's only one other person in my life who I am truly like that and it's my husband. So yeah it's a big deal and It's wonderful and yes, it still scares me sometimes.
There is fear that I care more and feel deeper which means I'll fall harder if it ends. Everything has a beginning and an end. I'm not talking about the kind of end that is natural or has transformed into what is next for either of us.
The end I'm talking about is where I'm left heartbroken because my true self was too much.
The fear that I'll be betrayed. It's happened before and while I am stronger, smarter, and better now, it was some of the hardest moments as a theater owner, performer, and improviser.
Fear that I'll just let the person down.
Thing is fear lies A LOT and OFTEN. You know what is stronger than fear though?
And I have that going for me. I believe in the power of love. I believe we can do so much more good when we come from a place of love. I believe love has my back. With love I can overcome the temporary moments of fear. I can show love. I can be love.
Intimacy has a place in improv. It's beautiful, funny, heartwarming, ridiculous, an exploration of the human condition, of yourself, it's stupid fun and a lesson on life and gratitude. I love every moment and and I hope you find it too!