9/9/20: Sam Wasson’s “Improv Nation” — The Confusion of Art and Show Business #poetry #essay #PoeticEssay #improvisation #SamWasson #MikeNichols #DelClose #SecondCity

I like this piece. You can agree with it or disagree with it, or just not care, but still consider it good writing. It speaks more of my experience than of a desire to reform a community. It was born of a process where I disengaged from a community — the world of improvisation and entertainment. I actually left the world of improvisation and entertainment in December 2017. It was a necessary step in my progress as a writer. It was a very emotional and even painful disengagement. I loved improvisation and I love many improvisors. But I am different than they are — I do a different thing, I want different things. When I wrote this essay, it was the last time that I wasn’t fully aware that I was no longer an improviser. A writer has to love and lose many passions before he or she has anything real to say. Improvisation is a big part of my life, but it is only a part. In writing I can integrate all aspects of my experience, character and personality. For me, improvisation became too limiting. I was frustrated that I could never find common cause with improvisers who wanted to further the form into something more. Spolin said the form must undergo a constant revolution. The fact is, however, that many improvisers transcend the form. They leave it and pursue higher forms, such as writing. Also, I have particular things that I need to express in my art. I am not suited to collective creative activity. My sense of community doesn’t come from creating with other people. It comes from individuals sharing their personal creations with one another.

I read this piece as a poem of unrequited love, disappointment and self-discovery.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

The Rick Blog

9/9/20: Sam Wasson’s “Improv Nation” — The Confusion of Art and Show Business #poetry #essay #PoeticEssay #improvisation #SamWasson #MikeNichols #DelClose #SecondCity

When Sam Wasson called me a few years ago to interview me as part of his research for his book on improvisation, “Improv Nation”, I was excited. He said that he wanted to write a book about improvisation as an art form. That was a topic of great interest to me.

Wasson and I have different definitions of the word “art” however. Consequently, he largely ignored what I had to say and misrepresented my views, and even my background in the form, in the slight mention that I have in the book. In fairness, my views about the art of improvisation were in an earlier developmental form than they are today. I was trying to find my place in the improvisation community, and was learning, at first painfully and…

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