Blogging the Fringe: My new process
Dave Morris in Photo Booth (Intrepid Theatre)
By Dave Morris
This year I'm in the Victoria Fringe with my solo improv show, Photo Booth. It's a simple enough concept, I improvise four characters based on faces/poses made by the audience. There's also some cool flashing light and freezing effects to give the show a photo-booth feel. I know, perfect in its simplicity. It's less crass then last year's Dave Morris is an Asshole. In that show, I asked for the worst things people have done and wove them together into one story about an asshole (which could have been anyone, really). Both shows are fun in their own way.
These two shows, though very different in concept, have one thing in common. Neither started from a place of improv or form, both shows began as concepts, and from their concept a show was formed. This is a little different then most improvisation you'll see. Most improv is presenting forms/games/structures, with specific people doing them. A group learns The Harold or a Tap-Out or make up some game called "somegame" and that becomes what their group does. They are defined by the form (or free form) they do, and not the reason, or concept, behind doing it.
But why do improvisers do this?
It's quite simple really: Improvisation is not a product. It's not a thing to sell to someone. Telling someone to see improv is like telling them to go see "movie" or telling someone they should really check out "book." Improv is a process. It is a way of doing something. So most groups end up treating the form they do as a product, and up until recently, I've always treated myself as the product. "Come see Dave Morris improvise." It's not an improv show, it's a Dave Morris show. Which is why my shows were always called Dave Morris is a BLANK. Well, not anymore. Now the concept is my product. Thus this year's title: Photo Booth.
Having a concept instead of just a form or person as a product opens the show up to a larger audience. Take Photo Booth for instance. It isn't just a show for people who like improv or Dave Morris, it's also for people who love photo booths. For people who love capturing a once- in-a-lifetime moment with friends. People who are sad to see shopping malls adopt the digital photo booth and toss out the old-fashioned film booth. This show is for people who love the you-only-get-one-shot mentality that is the magic of not only photo booths, but improvisation itself.