When I was in college, I found myself in an Improv class. I’m sure I wanted to take some sort of communications credit and the class was full, so in order to fill the elective, I took the only other alternative: Improvisation.
I was terrified.
I prayed that the class would be an intellectual discourse on the history of theatre, comedy, acting etc. Nope.
The teacher asked us to introduce ourselves in this way: The first person just had to say his name. The second person had to say her name and the name of the guy before her. The third person had to say her name and the name of the two people prior. You can see where this was heading. Twenty-six people in (of COURSE I sat in the back), we were all giggling awkwardly, and, I’ll be darned, even the last person remembered everyone’s name. (Now, if we got up and moved around, or…heaven forbid…changed clothes, all bets were off.)
Our next task in the class, was to gather in a large circle. One at a time we each had to pretend to open an umbrella, hold it over our heads, and close it again. Simple, right? The first few people did the obvious. Then one person added a shake before they closed their “umbrella” and it suddenly seemed more real. The next person added a twirl over her head, and before you know it, we were all really seeing each others’ umbrellas. Adding little tiny details mattered when it came to believability.
For our final grade, each person had to produce a skit. It was the student’s responsibility to:
- Describe a scenario.
- Cast characters from within the class.
That’s it. The skits only lasted 5 minutes or so, but I never laughed so hard during finals as I did during that class. Something about Improv brings out the silly in people. It’s like playing, but it’s a lot more about interaction with others. One of the main tenets of improv is you must always accept another’s reality. So if someone says “What about the kids?” you can never say “We don’t have any.” (This example is taken from the book “Something Wonderful Right Away” by Jeffrey Sweet.)
All of this brings me to improvisational quilting…or improvisational piecing, which comes first. I wanted to do something freeing, use up some fabric and make something that has not been done by anyone else…at least not in the exact same way.
- I had to use the colorful jelly rolls of ombre fabric.
- I am not allowed to square everything up into even-sized blocks. It has to be more free-flowing than that.
That’s it. Those are my two rules.
But I love it.
The challenging part comes in the curves and Y-seams.
If you’re not used to sewing curves, it can be daunting as there are just so many variables to keep nice and neat. It takes a little bit of thoughtfulness. Just like improv acting. Go with it. Try it. Don’t say no to the crazy seam.
It might just create “something wonderful right away.”