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Theatersport: a dutch form improvisation theatre

May 12, 2006

For about a year and a half now, I’ve been very happy to be a part of Pro Deo, a theatersportvereniging (English: Theatresports). I thought I’d share a little about it.

Mix tournament

Picture from the ‘mixtoernooi’ in 2005. By Rudine Bijlsma.

Yesterday was the twice-yearly “mixtoernooi” (above picture from a previous one), where the teams (if you’re thinking “teams? What teams?” – Go click those links) consist of players with varying levels of experience. These are always lots of fun, since its a good way for the less experienced players to learn to be “on stage” with a bit of a “safety net” provided by the players with a little more experience.

It was a good show. Quite a bit of audience, good atmosphere, and lots of energy.

We had two matches of about 45 minutes each, and I was in one of them, meaning I played a part in three improvised scenes of about 4 minutes each. Our team played a spacejump, a free impro, and a time for a song. It went well and afterwards I was real proud of each of my teammates for putting on a great show. Of course, we lost from the other team by a large margin, which is how it should be.

Improvisation theatre builds character

Theatresports teaches its practicioners how to listen, how to be a team player, how to feel confident about themselves, and much more.

Theatresports is an excellent way to learn how to feel confident on stage (once you dare step up there with a hundred people watching you and no clue yet what it is you’re going to do in about 3 seconds, you dare do allmost anything), which is also a great way to learn how to feel confident when presenting or speaking in front of an audience.

Theatresports excels even more at learning how to be a team player. In order to function well as an improvisation theatre team, there needs to be a whole lot of trust between each of the players, and a high comfort level. And beyond that, nearly everything about the “art form” is there to encourage or even require healthy collaborative behaviour. Golden rules like “you should accept whatever it is that someone invents right there on the spot” (you don’t really want to get into a discussion about it in the middle of your scene) go way, way beyond the “lazy consensus” that open source people may be used to.

Theatresports makes you a better listener. In order to be able to interact with other people on stage (and with the audience) in a witty and dynamic fashion, without any kind of script, you need to pay attention, and lots of attention, to what is going on around you, otherwise you’ll misread your teammates intentions and the whole scene can go down the drain.

Etc etc etc.

Of course, for me, these are really insignificant pluses compared to the joy of doing various silly things with friends. We have a few hours of lessons and practice tonight, and after that we’ll frequently hang out in the bar until dawn.

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