I just arrived in Austin, 2 days early for my intensive at The New Movement. As I understand it, the intensive (called Training Camp) is a lot more like boot camp than improv class. It's a small class, we have 6 hours of class each day which focuses on reps, then a show each night for a paying crowd (the game in this analogy).
Why am I here? I don't perform much anymore with groups that rehearse regularly with a coach. So I wanted to focus on my performance, even if for a week, with teachers who don't know me very well.
And why wait until Monday? Tonight I went to the Hideout Theater (which is right by TNM, easy for us improv tourists). It's got a cool vibe, store front, coffee shop out front (with a decent urbanspoon rating), and they have cocktails.
I saw a show called The International Improv Experience. There are 3 layers to this thing, all of them (in my opinion) delightful.
- This idea that Roy Janik from came up with after doing a lot more international shows and workshops--how to bring more of that to Austin? The show features videos from improv troupes throughout the world.
- A sort of technological whimsy that is loosely related to the theme (I'm told Kaci Beemer is responsible for the look of the show). The show features a talking computer (the person in the tech booth with an 1980s era animated computer head), a button that spins a slot machine-esque spinner to pick random cities, a giant lever that starts scene, and the best part: dozens of shapes that make up the "virtual reality" allowing the "computer" (improvisers) to create any location in the world. I cannot overstate how beautiful this was to watch. I tried to do it justice with the photo below.
- The final is the show mechanic itself. The show was in two acts with a short intermission (for coffee and happy hour priced cocktails). The first half was ComedySportz-esque. There was only one team and the challenges came from the International improvisers. That's what all those videos are. Anything from "give examples of what this poorly translated English means" to "do a scene at tea about how to make cricket more interesting to Americans." The best scene by far (IMO) was in response to a Japanese video that was a scene in Japanese gibberish (it really was gibberish, not just my inability to speak Japanese). The second half was long form inspired by a story telling technique also provided by video prompt.
Overall, totally aligns with my expectations of Austin! Creativity in droves, asking what have we not seen improv do yet?