Last night James and I went out in San Francisco. We drove across the Bay Bridge, which never fails to awe, and meandered on foot through the waterfront tourist district and Aquatic park to Fort Mason.
We were headed off to see BATS Improv perform Shakespeare’s Unknown Canon. A handful of performers pulled a title from the audience and created a full length play in Shakespearean style, each playing multiple characters, on the spot in the moment. James really wants me to tell you that the actors do not prepare stock characters which they use repeatedly; everything arises from scratch in the moment. Lisa, while graciously accepting our fumbly post-show fan-folks-ing, said that each monthlong show is proceeded by just one or two rehearsals to lay some groundwork.
Delicious Mountain, improvised on July 20th, 2019, was brilliant; hysterical and inspiring. The highlight was a love scene in which a single actor -- a tall, gorgeous, red-haired woman -- created a love scene between a swaggering and charming French swordsman and the funny, wise, headstrong eldest of three sisters as both characters. She rolled with herself, moment to moment, experiencing love at first site from the perspectives of two different people; it was... zomg, I have run out of superlatives. Her name is Lisa Rowland, and we had sought out our first live improv event after meeting Lisa and seeing her masterful performance as the officiant for Mamie and Kayvon's wedding a couple of months ago in Mexico City (more on this to come!)
My initial interest in this event was redoubled when I learned that the coach my best friend Aimee has been having such fascinating experiences with, Cathy Salit, works with skills based in the practice of improv. I read Cathy's book "Performance Breakthrough: A Radical Approach to Success at Work" and was fascinated to find how much it both challenged me and resonated with my philosophical foundations as a yogini.
Improv is a profoundly connected practice, a delightful thing to experience, and BATS Improv have a longtime, stellar reputation. They do their thing every weekend (oh my gosh, what dedication!) and there are two more weeks left of Shakespeare's Unknown Canon.