• Julien Bertrand

Why do I do improv? Part 1

Why do I do improv? part 1

Improv never came into my life.

I realised when I joined Zmack a few years ago that I had actually lived most of my life according to some of the principles of staged improv.

My family is rather traditional and settled in my hometown. Apart from grandfathers travelling the world because of wars, no one has ever left my home country. Choosing an Arts major and living abroad was seen in my family as bold and hard to justify as a choice. The truth is, it has always been very easy because I tried to listen to my true callings, say yes to the opportunities up for grasp around me, and act before thinking too much. That’s how I signed up for a course in England, studied a rare, dual diploma financed by the European Council, and left for China and Argentina to go find cultural gold.

In my theatre training, I was lucky to meet a fantastic Italian teacher called Luca Franceschi. He never really used the word improvisation in our training, but taught us the beautiful art of Commedia Dell’Arte (“professional actors”) wearing masks and performing stock characters through semi-improvised routines. Since I was fascinated by group creativity (to me more magical and rewarding than individual work), I couldn’t help but fall in love with any form of art requiring a strong group mind (from modern dance to jazz big bands to flash mobs, etc.). The sense of adventure triggered by improv answered my call for the exciting realms of the unknown and I was quickly hooked on this form more than anything else. Of course I’d perform in traditional plays where the “unexpected” is reduced to a minimum – ironically it is what happens unpredictably during such plays that makes for amazing shows – but my heart always belonged to physical, street theatre/improv, based on the idea that people had to attract attention in the street and came up with the most hilarious characters, costumes, faces, lines and set-ups possible to win over the passers-by.

#Shanghai #Improv #JulienBertrand #Zmack #AnthonyGates #twoprov

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