Improv theater is almost always comedy. I’ve seen good committed actors working hard at a serious long form that, despite their best efforts... turned funny. Asking the audience to share personal information can be fun, risky and produce work that is grounded in a more human experience.
Last year I asked audience members to anonymously write secretes on cards and they shared very personal feelings. For example one said, “I didn’t go back after you.. once I broke up with you.. and I wish I did.”
And most of the secrets spoke of regret or something they’d been hiding. It was challenging to use the secrets in a way that didn’t bring the evening ‘down’.
So I tried another idea to get audience suggestions that were personal but less ‘dark’.
I handed out index cards and asked audience members to anonymously write down a secret wish or desire.
The results were much more uplifting. And provided the theme for the scenes that I directed. *
Here are a few of the secrets the audience shared copied here exactly as written:
- I can fly.
- I wish I have the ability to become invisible.
- I always wanted to bathe in a tub of strawberry yogurt with clavichord music paying while being told I was loved beyond belief.
- To topple an evil regimen with passive resistance
- I’ve always wanted the ability to time travel
- I wish I was a Victoria Secret model [exclamation with a heart]
- I want to be small enough to fit into doll clothes!
- I wish I was in Paris
- Swimming through tropical oceans with colorful, supersized fishes.
We were able to use the wishes without making fun of them....well...yes...we had fun with them...but not at the expense of the person who wrote it.
It’s fun. Just knowing that this is a real secret desire of someone in the audience right now is exciting. It raises the stakes.
It grounds the players and engages the audience. And those are good things.
. Directed improv where the director declares a theme and the audience decides if he or she has successfully accomplished it.