Is reading a chore? Pick up Beautiful Ruins! I was going to say "I'm working through it," but that's not an accurate statement. It's not work. It's a joy to read. I look forward to every 30 minutes I get with the book, and feel reinvigorated when I put it down. I already dread finishing it, because these aren't characters I want to leave.

I've been wondering, "why do I love it so much?" What is it about these characters in Los Angelas, and Italy that reach out and connect with me, an improviser in Rocklin. I can't connect with fishing villages, and pitching a script to an aging producer.

I do, however, instantly relate to the emotions, the fears, the longings. These are three dimensional characters, and not caricatures.

One moment grabbed me. It said, "see! Improv is this thing! Well, it could be this thing if you slow down onstage." It's a lived out Hemingway "iceberg theory" moment, but the author Jess Walter was nice enough to walk us through it. We didn't have to imagine everything that was being felt and thought. Jess shared Claire's mental dive, the things that happen in a blink of an eye, but become buried under the brief response.

      "So what did you see in this guy?" Shane asks. "Originally?"
       Claire glances up. What did she see? It's to corny to say-but all she saw was all the cliched shit: Stars. Flashes of lights. Babies. A future...she felt like she'd never been fully alive before the moment Daryl first touched her...when in the middle of it she looked up and saw herself...every bit of his eyes.
       Claire shakes the memory off. How could she possibly say any of that here? And, so she simply says, "Abs. I saw abs."

That's a snippet of her whole "cliched shit." And, she dismisses it all, so something trite. (the whole section is on page 194 of Beautiful Ruins, paperback)

Ahhhhhh. How many times do we do that onstage? Think of something honest, and ditch it because it's a "cliche" or "not good enough." I know I've been guilty of that.

"How could she say that here?" We should be saying that here, onstage. Those are the moments that set improv apart from other stage plays. Each person brings their unique memories to a scene, and those memories can make for some complex moments.

1 Comment