Creative Encounters of An Improvised Kind

This’ll be brief – it’s late and I’ve only just got home. I need to have some dinner before heading to bed but I wanted to write down my first thoughts about the evening I’ve just had before they fade.

Over the first five years of Touretteshero I’ve come to appreciate the spontaneity and creativity that Tourettes adds to my life. It hasn’t always been like this – I used to try to ignore my unpredictable interjections and behaviour – but having grown to value my tics I’m always interested to meet and talk to people who’ve worked to achieve this sort of spontaneity or who’ve built their careers around it. For example, last January I met Nina Conti and Monkey for a creative encounter, and tonight I’ve been experimenting with six professional improvisers.

Improv is the art of performing in the moment. There’s no pre-prepared script or dialogue and the story and the characters are created collaboratively as the improvisation unfolds.

So tonight’s experiment had no plan, no anticipated outcome and no expectations. It was purely about seeing what would happen if my tics and a group of skilled performers were in the same room for a meeting of creative and neurological spontaneity.

Here’s what happened

• Funny and surreal stories emerged accompanied by a lot of laughter
• My tics responded to unfolding stories, often with the instruction “Flirt harder, penguin!”
• I found it really exciting seeing tics spring into life spontaneously, and then develop in amazing ways
• My tics took on different roles – for example interviewer or character-generator. I particularly enjoyed a strange version of Question Time with a panel that included ‘A broomstick blogger’, ‘the Queen of hamsters’ and ‘Chief of tumble dryers (for all regions except Willesden)’.

The improvisers, who generously gave their time to come and play, get involved and experiment, were brilliant. I’ve never really seen, much less done, any improv before but it felt incredibly natural – I felt safe and well supported.

I’ve got no idea where this’ll go next but it certainly resulted in thought-provoking conversations, interesting ideas and some surreal stories – including one about cats with bums that looked like Nicholas Lyndhurst plotting to take over the world.

It’s definitely given me an appetite for more. Now, though, I’m going to deal with my other appetite, and have some dinner.
Thanks to Ben Target, Charlie Partridge, Freya Parker, Juliet Morrish, Susan Harrison and Tim Grewcock for a wonderful evening.

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