With Hillary Clinton's bid to become the first female President underway and movies like Boyhood, starring Patricia Arquette making headlines, the topic of gender equality has never been more relevent.
But, just how far have we come in the male-dominated world of improvisation? Gary Austin (founder of the world famous improvisation training center, The Groundlings) says not far enough! Have a read and let us know your thoughts and experiences by commenting below?
Ye Who Profess to be followers of Del Close take heed.
Most of you 'Improvers' in America transgress big time.
Read this and GET IT that Del is not your improv mentor. You have perverted his work. Del was my teacher. Del and I stayed up all night many a night "rapping" about improvisational theatre. We performed together.
I am distressed by the GENDER ISSUES that pervade American "improv."
The following is an excepert from Guru: My Days with Del Close by Jeff Griggs...
Joe stepped into the middle of the stage and began doing a scene with a curly-haired brunette wearing a pair of very short shorts and a plaid skirt. After a few quick lines, Joe informed the girl that she was a hooker and he wanted her to admit it.
"Why did you make that girl
turn into a hooker?"
Del erupted and jumped out of his seat. "Just stop. Just stop it already," he yelled. "If you don't stop wasting my time, I'm going to walk out of here and drive back to Chicago. I have yet to see one grounded relationship scene. They've all been about bizarre characters and frat-boy jokes and I'm sick of it.
"You there, on stage. What were you doing? Why did you make that girl turn into a hooker?"
'Joe answered, " I thought she was playing the part of a hooker."
"I don't believe that's true. I think that it's very rare that a female improviser takes the stage with the intention of being a prostitute. Usually they're forced into those roles by inexperienced young men who have little imagination." Del said. "Actually," he continued, " I think it was very clear to all of us that she was working in a garden until you barged in and called her a whore, "Isn't that right?"
The girl nodded sheepishly.
"Don't ever tell me that
you did something because
you thought it would be
"She obviously was working in a garden, which you completely ignored. So tell me, young man, why did you force her to play the part of a hooker?"
"I don't know," Joe answered. "I thought it would be funny."
"Well that blew up in your fucking face, didn't it?" Del asked him.
He turned to the entire class: "That is the last time that I ever want to hear that phrase again. Don't ever tell me that you did something because you thought it would be funny. Long-form improvisation isn't about the jokes and the cheap laughs. It's about people exploring and discovering situations and relationships. Humor will occur when our discovery is completely honest and ambiguous. Forget about the jokes and the bits and allow yourself to work with your scene partner so that the two of you can construct a relationship that is grounded and honest and real."
Edited By: Emily Brock
Del Close was an American actor, writer, and teacher, coaching some of the best known comedians of the late twentieth century. Co-authoring the book Truth in Comedy with Charna Halpern and Kim Howard Johnson, in addition to a career in television and film, he influenced the development of modern improvisational theater.