Impro en Wetenschap — een teaser

Written by Ben Verhoeven april 22, 2022 0 comment

De tekst hieron­der is een teas­er sec­tie uit de lan­gere tekst “Impro­vi­sa­tion and the Sci­en­tif­ic Method” door Gael Doorne­weerd-Per­ry en mezelf dat ver­scheen in het boek Essays on Improv (2022) door leden van The SIN net­work.
Je kan nog een andere teas­er van ons hoofd­stok — over entropie — vin­den op Gael’s blog.

Both Gael and I have a sci­en­tif­ic background—Gael as a geol­o­gist and myself as a com­pu­ta­tion­al linguist—and we love improv.

Reproducibility in improvised theatre

Good research needs to be repro­ducible. If anoth­er researcher does the exact same exper­i­ment they should be able to find the same results, oth­er­wise the con­clu­sion of the first research should seri­ous­ly be ques­tioned. When con­nect­ing this aspect of sci­ence to impro­vi­sa­tion, it seems an anal­o­gy between sci­ence and impro­vi­sa­tion is in trouble.

Impro­vi­sa­tion is any­thing but repro­ducible, right? Every show or scene is only per­formed once, every char­ac­ter is dis­cov­ered in the moment. Yet there are counter exam­ples. Sketch writ­ers some­times use impro­vi­sa­tion as a method of gen­er­at­ing ideas for new sketch­es. Some per­form­ers find them­selves reg­u­lar­ly play­ing the same char­ac­ter again, per­haps because it was received well by an audi­ence the pre­vi­ous time. As impro­vis­ers, we think that this is not advis­able and that we should always aim to put our­selves in new sit­u­a­tions when on stage.

But here’s anoth­er idea. We believe that repro­ducibil­i­ty in impro­vi­sa­tion should not be applied to the con­tent of the scenes. Instead, we are inter­est­ed to inves­ti­gate if the suc­cess of a scene or a show is repro­ducible. What are the con­di­tions that were suc­cess­ful? What are the ele­ments of a show that are a ‘guar­an­teed win’? What is the com­bi­na­tion of tools that are giv­ing us the most chances of play­ing a good scene? In the case of cre­at­ing a show it might be the theme—everyone loves love sto­ries—, or a spe­cif­ic set up—difficult to mess up if the rule of the show is only two-per­son scenes—, etc. On stage while impro­vis­ing, it can be the ‘improv rules’ we establish.