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by Darren Held

I was venting to Lisa about improv the other day, as I am wont to do from time to time when I’m going through an improv crisis.

The issue this time was my struggle with having a variety of different, big characters. Which is pretty much the issue every time. Only this time, I felt particularly constrained because I often work out my frustrations via Facebook and this blog, and I suddenly felt I couldn’t do that anymore.

Why? you may well wonder, since I’ve never been one to be particularly bashful about saying whatever I want here in Blogville.

Well, I’ma tell you.

I developed this notion that, since I’m teaching improv, I had to maintain a sense of “I know what the heck I’m doing, peeps” so as not to lose credibility with students and potential students.

And you know what? I do know what I’m doing. I can break down an improv scene and tell you why rules exist and help you know when and why you should have an emotional change and on and on and on. Because all those things are the intellectual aspects of improv, and I can intellectualize improv with the best of ’em.

But doing improv is the opposite of intellectualizing. It’s letting go of agendas and preconceived ideas and just everything and being totally in the moment. And sometimes, even the best improvisors struggle. Because if you never struggle, you never grow. Going with what you’re good at all the time means you are never pushing yourself, never trying new things, never taking risks. And you can’t get better at improv if you never do those things.

So I’m going back to not being shy about my struggles. They’re nothing to be embarrassed about, for one thing. And more importantly, I want my students to push and go big and take risks – and that means they are going to struggle sometimes. I think it’s important for them to realize I struggle sometimes too.

And then I get up, text Lisa, write a blog post and try again. And soon enough, the thing that was a struggle isn’t so struggly anymore.

You know, it’s like that in real life too. Just throwin’ that out there.

By Sonnjea Blackwell

Darren Held
About Darren Held
Darren is the CEO and Creative Director of Held2gether, Improv for LIfe. He has been teaching and performing improv for 15 years, and has performed with H2g, the Groundlings, UCB and Second City. He loves Moto, red wine, and Madonna.

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