Never-ending Storytelling – One Man’s Journey to Improv

Fishes out of the bowl by Rito Dutta, Thespians Anonymous 2012

How can improv – improvisational theater – help us to embrace life? Today we will take a journey into never-ending storytelling, acceptance and real life – and whatever they have in common following.

Our Man still remembers those sweet nights lying on bed curling along his grandma eagerly waiting for the ”story of the night”. Now as a grown-up man doing theater he realizes how important those nights were for his sweet grandma after a day-long toil and hard work in an extremely complex society. Today he tries to live and enjoy his life by learning more and more about the art of storytelling. He heard that there is going to be an ”improvisation workshop” by a Helsinki theater group named Thespians Anonymous on coming week-end, and as a new member of Thespians Anonymous he can participate in the event. He feels excited to meet new people, and to tell, learn and feel stories.

On that beautiful weekend of Fall’2012, he reaches that holy-jolly place around the corner of a modern building and meets the organizer for the day – Erna – and also many sweet people waiting to be enthralled by the fun-packed event over the next couple of hours. The people come from many countries all around the world representing almost 4 continents of the world. Sharing smiley glances, they fill up notes with crazy ideas and thoughts – whatever comes into their mind. They do this without knowing how those so different ideas can join together and create dreamy stories to be told at the end of the day.

Throughout his journey at the workshop, he keeps on remembering his grandma, how she told him: ”learn to appreciate others, only then you will be appreciated”. That positive note of accepting life has always made his life interesting and worth storytelling. It amazes him to learn the power of storytelling through practicing acceptance of other participants’ stories, views and ideas.

Altogether they play games in which they try to make conversations and tell stories through acceptance or rejection. They try to tell stories of random objects or enact experiences through different figures of speech. Rejection creates only confusion and boring stories. But they all feel so surprised when they notice how beautiful the stories become when they try to accept the others’ views and ideas. He asks himself – is this not a reflection of our own real life?

Then they get into the most fun-filled part of the day, when they pick up two notes randomly from all those filled up earlier. The sentences on those two notes look like completely disconnected strings of ideas. Like two fallen leaves from two different kinds of trees or rather two old pages from two unknown books. They are radically different, they are radically disconnected, they are radically oblivious thoughts in our dreams, they are like fallen leaves on a stream. As the participants enact the ideas, the sentences come closer one another, similarly to fallen leaves meeting while swirling in the wind. The people start to feel the connections, imaginary links and strength of storytelling.

Something beautiful happens – like a smiling sun coming out of the silvery clouds. Energies start flowing! The participants enact and connect randomly different ideas like ”being in a fishbowl” and ”bitten by dogs” through the story of two juvenile ”fishes”, who want to experience life in its full flavor and taste the fresh air of independence. They end up being bitten by the dogs and dying but still carry the message of our inherent wishes to be free, to be blown away by wind wherever it takes us.

Stories keep flowing, love and life get together, energy and enthusiasm of youth are celebrated. Our Man feels so happy to be part of those beautiful stories, enacted through dance, prose, drama and with pure love. He wishes it to never come to an end. Probably it never did, those sweet thoughts of acceptance, energy and freedom made a permanent mark in his life, in the story he tells every day. He tries to find the positivity of acceptance in every bit of his life now, and the beauty of freedom soothes his most stressful moments.

Ritabrata Dutta (Rito) is new to improvisation theater. He comes from India and has been involved with Bengali and English theater groups. With Thespians Anonymous, he is participating in FELT IF 2012 (Festival of English Language Theatre in Finland) in play Bear with Me.

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