Commitment & Danger

Improvisers at the emergency room because of their acting commitment!

Commitment & Danger in Improv

“Yes, I went to the emergency room because of my commitment to space object work,” Nathan said.

“How bad is it?” I asked

“They gave me an x-ray and there are no broken bones...but I do have a muscle or tendon tear on my right shoulder.”

“What happened?” I asked.

“We were performing our improv show at the Shelton theater on Sutter Street in San Francisco as we do every Thursday night. One of the other players and I took the audience suggestion to create a silent scene."

He took a breath and continued, “It started simply, we were working in the garden. I had a trowel and dug up a small plant and handed it to him. It was sweet. Then I got a larger shovel and dug up a small tree and handed it to him, then a larger tree. Finally, I picked up a space-object chain saw. Paused for a moment. Then gave it a mighty pull to ‘start’ the engine on the chain saw. That’s when it happened.

“I knew immediately that I had done something bad to my shoulder. But I kept the scene going. I handed him the tree and he collapsed under its weight.   I couldn’t help him...even though the tree was a space object tree and weighed nothing.

“The lights came down. I walked off stage. And, went immediately to the hospital. “

"What do you make of the experience?" I asked.  Nathan paused for a bit then added, “I love space object work and I’m good at it. But with the right commitment, the things we create on stage can be very real."


Yes, the stage is a world of make-believe.  It allows the actors to cross over into dangerous areas.   The danger can be social or emotional.  The danger can make us feel vulnerable.  As it should be.  That’s what theater does for a community.  Physical danger, on the other hand...that's a whole other level...

Be brave.  Be dangerous.  But remember to take care of yourself along the way.


[To see Nathan perform visit SF Improv Collective at]

{photo taken by Gemma Bulos]