Avoiding Narrative

Not a completed thought, just bantering something out loud...

Narrative is getting a bad wrap.  I hear improvisers say ‘I don’t do narrative impro’, which seems to me be avoiding something fundamentally obvious.

Every scene has narrative.  Whether or not you feel you are actively creating a narrative the fact remains the audience is still applying narrative to your work.  To ignore that is to ignore the obvious reality in the performance.

I think some improvisers make the statement of ‘I don’t do narrative’ to protect themselves.  Narrative demands listening to their partner and valuing offers.  For some this seems like a restraint, they feel held back or controlled in their work.  Isn’t it a delight to see what your partner will give and explore the potential of that?  I think so.  However, speaking with this type of improviser it is obvious they would rather do their own thing, because their aim is audience approval. Usually laughter and applause. Yet, the best comedy I have seen still applies basic narrative understanding and delivery.  I just feel improvisors are avoiding the obvious, because it has not been introduced to them correctly.  Now it feels like a burden, it should feel like a joyous, endless expedition! 

If the improviser feels a pressure to deliver a narrative, then that is self imposed.  It is not expected, what is expected is that you follow through on the offers.  Narratives come from being in the present,  not avoiding the future nor pushing into the future and avoiding the present.  Avoiding the present is just as destructive as avoiding the future.  Perhaps in the aim to inspire improvisers to be fearless in their going forward into the story, a backlash has happened where improvisers feel pressured to drive it forward, thus avoiding the now. 

We are storytellers in the moment and of the moment.


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