One of my goals this year is to practice theatrical collaboration, and to that end my loosely knit group of actors called the Ubuntu Players has used improv to develop a three-minute comedy about the uses of prayer for our Unitarian Universalist fellowship.
Our first session, though we had plenty of laughter, left us all feeling uncertain about the outcome; yet after I set aside all the jokes I loved that couldn’t be used, I realized we had some good nuggets. In the resulting script, entitled iPray, God and his CIO, being interviewed by an aggressive reporter for American Agnostic magazine, reveal that technology is the way to reduce the pesky deficit of unanswered prayers. The dialogue got sharper and leaner as we rehearsed: you’ll notice that while the first draft makes better sense intellectually (or at least is more linear, with connections spelled out) the second draft is more of a road map than a transcript. That is, I tried to capture the key phrases we wanted to hit, leaving unscripted many of the transitions between them. Thus improv is not only how we developed it, but how we hope to perform it.
Will we have the nerve to improvise in the actual performance on Sunday? I hope so, because it’ll be better if we do.