Notes from Alan Arkin

An evening with Alan Arkin

from a Jester’z perspective

Last weekend, iconic improvisor Alan Arkin was in town to spend an evening with the local theatre crowd, and local improvisational scene. We had a couple of the Jester’z make it out to the event and so we wanted to share some of their notes.

Camille Hartmetz (performer) and Maureen Kane (student) had the following to say about the evening:

When I asked him (Alan Arkin) what he would tell someone who’s nervous or might suffer from stage fright, he said that an Improvisor or Actor must come on stage with a strong Intention, or Want. This driving internal force would motivate all of the dialogue said on stage.
An improv player must have a life or death want, or intent. Improv is about relationships.

He mentioned that the movies he didn’t like doing were usually the movies that the performance was lacking. the movies he did like doing were those where people most often mention to him that they liked his performance – you can’t fake it – if you’re not having fun, it shows.

Arkin said these are the keys to being a good leader (in the context of directing):
1. Have a point of view.
2. Be able to effecitvely and clearly communicate that point of view.
3. Be flexible enough to change your idea if someone has a better one.

He said that in an NPR interview, he defined improv as the art of creating a scene “on the spur of the moment with materials on hand.” But he elaborated to say Improvisation is not a willy nillly, do-anything type of event. It takes extensive traning with these “materials”,AKA tools in the tool belt, like agreement, characters, wants (intentions), etc.

Alan has a book coming out on March 1st call, An Improvised Life: A Memoir, it is bound to be great, or at least good!