Why Christian Capozzoli teaches Improv
I teach improvisation because there is more than one way to draw an elephant.
I began improvising 18 years ago in New York City. It changed my life.
I’ve completed programs at Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and Magnet Theater in New York, worked with IO, Annoyance, Second City, and Groundlings and have been lucky and privileged to work with luminary instructors.
Over the last decade long form improvisation has exploded – when an art form experiences a boom like this it should grow and evolve and change in how it is performed and how it is taught. Instead the art form and pedagogy has been institutionalized making something that should be organic more procedural. This is an understood reaction – as schools / enrollment booms, formalizing curriculum is a given, but those curriculums become more and more systematized and become more and more routine, which leads to an art form that is predictable and expected, more technician than musician. Often, within these institutional settings, the individual’s voice or sense of humor is what is compromised or sacrificed.
Why institutions can stifle creativity –
Institutions make a name for themselves by branding their approach to improv. The more they cling to their methods and insulate themselves from other approaches – the more they become a monastery, and with that comes idolization, devotion, worship. Their word is the word – an elephant is drawn from trunk to tail. That type of education moves North and South over its clay students creating a cylindrical performer capable of moving North and South. A proper improv education should be spherical, impressing lessons from each and every angle from multiple points of view – so that its graduates can move in any direction, at any moment and play with anyone.
Capozzoli’s goals for his students –
I aim to give my students a proper improv education. I have travelled around the world and worked with some truly inspirational improvisers, instructors, performers, clowns and educators who have shared their methods with me through workshops, intensives, symposiums, and shared classrooms and lesson plans, and it has totally changed me, my play and my teachings for the better. As I state in my book, The Aerodynamics of Yes: The Improviser’s Manual we have a responsibility not only to our audience but to this art form. I want us to push improv in new directions and who knows maybe be a part of discovering long form cubism, and embrace techniques from around the world to ensure that we are exposed to multiple points of view creating spheroidal performers who can improvise with ease in any direction, who listen and celebrate their scene partners with confidence, and who dare to draw an elephant different.