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This is Sam. I’m going to write about covenants in this blog. This seems like a fitting thing for me to do. Jewish blood runs in these veins. I come from a long line of prophets. And the prophet speaks, now (in the third-person):
We spent time coming up with answers to a very simple question last weekend. What is improvisation?
You might think this is a silly question for an improv company to take up. Especially after we’ve been working together for over a year. You’d be wrong, my friend. Improv is a many splendored thing. And by that, I mean improv is complicated.
Improvisation is not a concrete art. There are different, competing traditions, and folks conceptualize improvisation in all sorts of ways. All of us have years of experience with improv. But we come from different places. We kept meaning to come up with our tenets as Happy Valley Improv, but it just never happened.
Until we decided to expand our troupe.
We held auditions in January. People participated in a three-day audition. Afterwards, we realized that we needed specific language to describe how we were evaluating improvisers. Further, how were we evaluating ourselves? What ideology were we adhering to?
We made lists. We scrutinized every word. We spent a Sunday afternoon agonizing over our work. We cut things. We edited. What did we believe? Why did we believe it? Our work resulted in the following covenant. Read it with reverence, my friend. We share it with collective solemnity.
I’m not going to go through these beliefs in detail, here. That’s an academic paper. And a book. And a novel. And an epoch. There’s so much work to be found in explicating and nuancing the ideas above. At least for me. I believe that the five statements above contain something that points to the mystery of living well. Go read my books for elucidation:
Excuse me. That was a self-promotional hiccup. But seriously, these two books are about the improvisational nature of my being. So is my upcoming book, Playing with Sharp Objects. Improv, in concert with other things, has taught me how to live. And the five statements above are central to how I see human beings living well (and healthily) with each other. Especially in our precarious age.
I’m proud to be part of a community that adheres to the tenets above. We’re proud to be building such a community.
Yes, improv is joyful and funny. Ridiculous too. But it also might provide alternative ways for people to be. And the five tenets above might guide us in that direction.
So sayeth the prophet.