Mary OverlieComment

Manifesto for Improvisational Performance

Mary OverlieComment
Manifesto for Improvisational Performance

The World of the Six Viewpoints

Manifesto for Improvisational Performance

To us the experimenters, we find the experimental arts the most simulating of all art forms.  Looking at art that is on the edge, ground breaking discovering the new, challenging process, creating new product and content, and re-defining the form, has very specific benefits.  

For instance, watching people improvise engages the mind in a way that no other form of theater and dance can. This is because the audience is taking in process and product simultaneously.  While witnessing communication and form emerge, a certain kind of liveliness gathers together and manifests before the eyes and in the viewer’s mental activity.  Art on the edge brings the perceptual function of the brain into active duty that extends far beyond classical arts in painting, sculpture, music, dance, and literature. 

The training required to become an experimentalist rests in improvisation of a special and highly technical nature. I like to say that an improvisational trained artist and performer becomes a highly skilled “observer and participant”.  A creation in this medium of experimentation demands engagement by the audience who then themselves become observers and participants.  The development of this skill for both the audience and the artist also allows for the opening of both art and daily life to the delightful experience of surprise and deeper engagement. The “conservative” way of demanding that things be a certain way gives way to appreciation of what is actually going on around you and an ability to see its beauty and purpose. 

My advocacy for Improvisational Performance rests on the following beliefs:

  • All art emits energy. All art is, in some way, a performance. This energy has a very specific feel in live improvised or improvisational process performance

  • Improvisational Performance provides the occasion to use the mind in a different way

  • Improvisational Performance magnifies one of the highly valued benefits of art, the artistic atmosphere that brings us close to the thrill and truth of personal expression, freedom, and cooperation.

  • Art and creativity is a function of human evolution.  It provides the healthy opportunity to observe and actively participate, in life past daily survival.

This experimental form of art turns things around and emphasizes the creative choices we make every day. This practice provides an alternative to following a routine of living that so often isolates and traps the mind because in establishing the necessity of the expected we becomes walled off from perceptual and visual variations of patterns and occurrences.