The other day I had my final class show for the Upright Citizens Brigade, Level 401. I've performed for my UCB classes several times now-- for 201, 301, the Lottery, a 401 mid-class show, and this final one. I came nervous, I left happy, just as before. On our bus ride in (incidentally, if I never take the Megabus again, I will be a happy lady), I was flipping around between the three books I'm reading on the Holocaust, urban planning, and Indian independence. I was also listening to Justin Timberlake, Adele, and podcasts about science. I was worrying about my column about walking, my new essay about diaries, and an old essay about China. I was also considering my upcoming birthday and reflecting on rock climbing with my siblings last week. My brother was texting me. Once in a while I played Angry Birds. And Greg, next to me, kept mentioning the breakfast we'd just had and a silly show we'd seen the night before.
The whole time I was thinking use this. Use this. Use every part of this buffalo that is your life.
Sitting on that bus, I was reminding myself that all the best improvisation comes from a strong sense of self and a wide set of passions. I've seen this in my Sea Tea teammates before: get Joe talking about science, or Steph about Ren Fairs (faires?), or Dan about pretty much any trivia, and their improv is doubly good. I am a person with a ton of interests and many unique experiences, and I am happiest on stage when I am bringing those things with me.
To do a good scene you must come out both totally empty and totally full. You must bring the sum total of your observations and ideas out there with you, and you must immediately abandon them. You are a blank page of a book with many previously full pages, which you may refer to or ignore.
I am Julia, and everything that I have done or thought, but I am also none of those things. Each moment is a new moment. Each scene, a new scene in a long story.
P.S. My show went well.