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Soundpainting

A few years ago I had a friend called Christian, and I couldn’t really consider him a friend, but rather a kind of alter ego who frequented all the places I frequented in Bologna: that is, the kind of initiatives that could be defined as forms of ‘personal growth’ or ‘self-work’. In fact, I can hardly remember them all now. I used to go to a shiatsu massage course, and here’s Christian at the shiatsu massage course. I used to go to parinama yoga with ropes at the Indue space, and here is Christian a regular at parinama yoga. I used to go to the monthly contact jam at Tpo, and Christian wouldn’t let one slip through his fingers. If I went to anything between dance, performance, massage, oriental philosophy, I could bet that Christian would be there. Sometimes I would suggest events to him, almost always he would shower me with tips. So once he tells me that he’s been doing improvisational theatre for a while at a place under the Stalingrad Bridge and I think well, improvisational theatre I still miss, and I go to the rehearsal meeting.

It was spring 2016, and I remember because I had just started doing it that I found myself in one of the most emotionally catastrophic periods of the last 40 years I thought at the time, maybe this improv theatre is bad luck, maybe I should give it up; but then I also felt an urgent need for diversion, so I chose to continue. In the meantime, while Christian left the group to devote himself to other activities, in the space of a few months theatre improvisation became my main extra-work activity, as well as a privileged source of stimuli to redefine my own identity, challenging the deepest problems of my character. I grew up with a lot of fears, which helped me to survive during my adolescence but became an obstacle as an adult: the fear of defeat, of failure, the fear of making mistakes, the fear of trusting others, the fear of being stupid or weak, and even more the fear of looking stupid or weak.

Theatrical improvisation throws you on stage with all these fears, and there is no way to avoid them. Often the performances are in the form of a match, with two teams facing each other, but the final result depends on the ability of the actors – that is, the players, no matter whether they are allies or opponents – to be accomplices and make each other look good. In English this rule sounds much better: make your partner look good, and ever since I discovered it, I have been convinced that it is a way to improve not only the show, but my life and maybe even the whole of humanity.

After two years of practice, I found myself in 2018 taking a break, and now I feel the fear that all those lessons I found in improvisational theatre – lessons not about theatre, but about life itself – are destined to dissipate, to disappear from my consciousness and my memory.

This is why I got a book recommendation from my teacher, one of the many illuminating texts on the subject that he knows, and he told me to read one called Impro, by Keith Johnstone.

In November 2018, however, the Sunday actor – which is obviously me – is already planning to get back on track, thanks to a two-month soundpainting module.

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