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Make Mistakes

Keith Johnstone in the final chapter of Impro talks about how he prods his students to lose their inhibitions and be more creative, especially when wearing masks while they improvise:

I encourage students to throw themselves in, and to stop being 'critical', by saying: 'Make mistakes! These Masks are more extreme, more powerful than ordinary faces. Don't be timid. Make big mistakes. Don't worry about being wrong! Rely on me to stop you!' Sometimes I say: 'What you saw in the mirror was right! But you only showed me a shadow of it. Try the Mask again. You'll never get anywhere if you aren't brave.' ...

It's perhaps reminiscent of mathematicians talking about making "good mistakes", and Zen states of losing inhibition as suggested in Lunchtime Enlightenment, or Not Always So, etc. Several pages later Johnstone muses further:

At the moments when a Mask 'works' the student feels a decisionlessness, and an inevitability. The teacher sees a sudden 'naturalness', and that the student is no longer 'acting'. At first the Mask may flash on for just a couple of seconds. I have to see and explain exactly when the change occurs. The two states are actually very different, but most students are insensitive to changes in consciousness. Some students hold rigidly to 'normal consciousness', but most keep switching from their control to the Mask's control and back again. ...

In normal life the personality conceals or checks impulses. Mask characters work on the opposite principle: they are childlike, impulsive, open; their machinations are completely transparent to the audience, although not necessarily to each other. ...

If Masks were subjected to the same pressures as our children are, then they also would become dull and inexpressive. We adults have learned to be opaque. We live among hard surfaces that reflect sound back to us, so we're constantly telling our children to be quiet. Our lives are surrounded with precious objects—glass, china, televisions, stereos—so that movement has to be restrained. Any adult who acted like a three-year-old would be intolerable to us.

Yes, and ...!

^z - 2013-02-27

I like this!