When most people hear the word improv, their minds jump to the show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”. They might also think improv is something only funny people do. While it is true that improv comedy is one form of improv, improv takes many forms. The skills of improv are needed in every career - teaching, business, medicine, you name it. Every day, we are called upon to respond to something that is unexpected without having time to prepare. This is improv.
When people regularly practice the skills that comedic improvisers use to find success on stage, they are more agile and adapt better to new situations which generates success in work, creative pursuits, and daily life.
Multi-talented Eugene creatives, Cullen Vance and Eric Braman, are well-versed in the skills of improv comedy, both trained in the Chicago improv scene - where the likes of Tina Fey, Steve Martin, and many other famous comedians received their start. Cullen and Eric bring an improv touch to everything they do. They use the collaboration skills taught in improv to empower and support artists which strengthens this creative community.
Musician and All Around Creative, Cullen Vance, is also a freelance artist whose improvisational skills help him create innovative work for his clients. Recently, he’s collaborated with local theatre and dance companies, creating live music as a score for their performances. Cullen says, “Improv teaches that when something happens in the space, you can’t ignore it, you embrace it”. As a result, his music adapts to what is happening on the stage during performances. His latest album Cullen Vol. 1 comes out 10/05/2019.
Eric Braman is a Poet, Writer, and Performer. He is also the Lane Arts Council Education Program Coordinator. Eric says, “Improv taught me we have more in our heads and hearts than we give ourselves credit for. Practicing constraint, like an improv scene, creates trust in ourselves that we can rise up to meet pressure situations.” Along with Cullen and others, he practices this skill with the Dead Parrot’s Society. The group creates poems based on an audience prompt - on the spot. Scary? Eric says it’s fun and builds trust that he can create spontaneously.
Cullen and Eric are skilled professionals and have put in the time honing their crafts and careers. However, I think both would agree that their exposure to and the practice of the tools of improv have taught them to listen deeply, practice flexibility, adapt, and take risks which makes them great collaborators and creates opportunities to share their work and passions with the community. This is improv. If you’re interested in taking a creative risk and learning to use the power of improv in your own life, give it a try - don’t worry, you don’t have to be funny or prepare, you just have to show up.