Monday, 5 April 2010

Lifted higher: Improvision Song Contest 2010

This is Siv-Britt Turesson, from a small Swedish village no-one remembers the name of. She has always loved listening to the radio stars, dreaming she could be like them, to sing like them. After winning a small contest of three participants, she got the chance to perform at the Improvision Song Contest of 2010.

She enters the stage nervous with anticipation, and she takes the microphone and sings to us how she wish she could be among her music idols, pausing to look at us excited, hardly believing she is here, and then unleashing a full opera chorus of how she can't sing like them, but oh how she wishes for it, and the lights go on, and she is there, the place she's dreamt of, and we're with her, clapping and cheering, the entire stage is lifted to a higher place.

Siv-Britt Turesson is a persona played by Karin Fjellander, opera singer, one of the participants of last sundays Improvision Song Contest 2010. Each participant came to the event with a prepared persona to portray, but the song, the music, the lights and background choreography were all improvised. Audience members provided the titles of the songs and a random genre was picked for the band to improvise from. Choreography and lights were improvised as well, everything coming together in the moment.

We all watched as the artists entered the stage, climbing up and standing on the cliff of impossibility, and then, without fear, throwing themselves forward, not falling, but soaring, singing.

The winner was not Siv-Britt, but Arne Brun, played by Michael Blomqvist. Arne Brun was a similar concept, a nobody, vulnerable and ordinary. Arne Brun had ended up at the competition by accident, but completely blew us away. Here is his act.

Notice how the audience is melting with laughter in the end, not because the act is very, well, witty funny (Impro actors are never trying to be funny) but because it is exhilarating funny: What we saw was something genuine, vulnerable, real, happening right now and right before us, and thus very hard not to be swept away with, to emphasize with the singers and be a part of it all. To be lifted up along with the soaring artists, to a higher place.

Impro can be a rush of freedom, to shake off the fears of failure and make them something insignificant and harmless, something funny to laugh at. It touches a place we dream of reaching, self-actualization. A psychological idea that it is in our nature to seek to be all we can be.

I'll end this with another song from Depeche Mode's album "Songs of Faith and Devotion", expressing my emotions of elevation when doing impro acting:

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