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Musings inspired by the Vienna Improv Festival

The Vienna festival has come and gone. Hugs, kisses and farewells have been exchanged, and the post-festival reflecting has begun. These gatherings are best described as revivals of a sort. This intense and charged air emerges and blooms from the heroes of play that have been called from across the world. Sometimes I feel like it is the greatest of blessings to be among this skilled and earnest gathering of wise-fools and clowns. Like any time that you must depart from good friends for a while, there is disappointment. So as an exercise in thankfulness I’d like to share some of my favorite memories in random order:

  • A day sightseeing and visiting the natural history museum with Ruppert from Graz.
  • A couple of days in Graz with Jacob, Trixie and Lily colored by Portal 2 and lots of ‘either, or’ questions.
  • Zeughaus armory in Graz
  • Stolen Thunder
  • Dude time with Jim and Jacob. Hello Archer.
  • The Hitman episode of Finny and Joe, and especially Robert’s choice to be a man in the ‘keyboard’ case and everyone’s eagerness to be onstage with tape over their mouths (Hilarious!)
  • Doing ‘follow the leaver’ with Kathy, Michael, Jim and Jacob. RED!!!
  • The Great Race Pursuit Chase country band.
  • Tshirt ideas with Michael and Valentin.
  • Performing improv in one of the most breathtaking cathedrals in all of Europe.
  • Just meeting Kathy and kissing her in a scene a little over an hour later.
  • Having great conversation with Georg over coffee randomly one afternoon.
  • Valentin generously becoming my interpreter.
  • Gordana’s apologetic yet ceremonious distribution of drink tickets.
  • Leon’s notion of someone who ‘puts on the brakes’.
  • Spending a night with Bronwynn, Roland, Zachary and Jeremy.
  • Connecting with Gunther, Nicole, Peta and Eva.
  • The kindness of everyone I met and worked with who was part of the festival or in my classes.

Underneath all these experiences lies the glue that binds this international community of improv performers. Like all people, it is both our shared experiences and our co-created stories that bind us into a loose culture. It is a culture that strives to maintain connection by earnestly pursuing and striving for a life infused with agreements, risks, support, sincerity and curiosity (basically, a life all good humans seem to seek), but not all humans follow a secular discipline that turns these ideas into habits. Despite differences in language and the frustrations that can be born from that, more often than not we connect and find our shared humanity and I discover that I am surrounded by heroes and heroines of another tongue and another land. Who would not be a little sad at the end when the world seems to dim back to its normal hues? Then, you return to the routine of your own life. Mind you, it’s a life that I love, but I am still left wishing I could teleport to my friends wherever they may be.

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