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Roy Janik

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cartoonists, zen masters, improvisers [Aug. 21st, 2006|06:48 pm]
Roy Janik
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So many people are saying/have said the same thing.

You're performing at your best when you lose yourself in your work.

When you are just in the present, focused on the now, a being who reacts to what is before your eyes, you produce your best work. Getting in the 'zone' is how it's referred to in sports or the workplace. In improv it's sometimes called "getting out of your head".

I first noticed this when playing the concertina. It's almost impossible to play at any decent speed if you stop and think about anything. You have to just play the damned thing, and if you can blank out and let your fingers play, it'll go swimmingy.

During the improv workshop in San Francisco, Keith Johnstone said something that really resonated with me- "The best shows are the ones you don't remember, anyways." And for me at least, that's true. I lose track of time, fear slides off, and it becomes effortless. Afterwards I'm left saying "What just happened?"

As Erika May very recently said, "i think this is why i really love improv. when you can just....stop thinking and react."

It happens so rarely for me, though. More often, I remember the show in excruciating detail, to be over-analyzed later. When not peforming, I wonder how I manage to do it at all, and worry that I'm wasting everyone's time.

In an interview of Chuck Jones and Ray Bradbury about the nature of fantasy (a term broadly used there to describe everything from science fiction to bugs bunny cartoons), they had this to say:

Jones: One thing I have noticed about fantasists -if there is such a thing- is extreme concern about their ability to continue to produce, fear of the open canvas, the fear of the keyboard, fear of that empty page in the typewriter.

But coupled with that is an extreme incisiveness and courage when you actually start work. It is like a dive into cold water, and at that point the artists are one with the universe (or with God, depending on what your persuasions are). They have absolute certainty and confidence in what they are doing. Then they stop, and the fear is there again.

Bradbury: Amen. Always there. And to stop is death.

[User Picture]From: bellatrixamici
2006-08-22 12:10 am (UTC)


but seriously, all of those people have these things in common when it comes to their chosen craft.
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