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‘The spectator will be the director’

Tonight at eight o ‘clock USVA will present the final show of the Improvisation Comedy course. For two hours, the 15 participants of the course will amuse the public with the skills they have acquired during the ten weeks of the course.

Theater is part of the human being. Society has always looked for an escape to deal with the routine of daily life and try to live other existences. We can say even more: life is like a theater play where people try to run away from that fiction they sometimes don’t like. William Shakespeare already said it:  ‘All the world is a stage’.

However, although people dream about other adventures, trying to melt with another world, only few are the ones who dare to become other individuals for a while and represent the fantasies and useful lessons for everybody. Actors have the power to depict another reality, but they can do it with or without guidelines. The cultural organization USVA offers the opportunity to improve the acting skills and find out how to be another person for some time. German student Raik Klawitter (24) is one of these people who decided to enjoy the magic of theater. In fact, he picked the Improvisation Comedy course, which has lasted 10 weeks since September and on 22 November, the 15 participants, all of them from very different countries as Taiwan, Germany or Denmark, will do a final presentation at USVA.

‘It is funny and creative and you can create your own personality, you can make what you want and that is what I like because in university I´m learning the whole day and to disconnect it is good”, admits Raik.

After studying the third year of International Business and Management in Réunion (a French island in the Indian Ocean) and in St. Gallen (Switzerland), he came back this year to Groningen to finish the bachelor and get in touch again with all the cultural chances this city proposes. ‘You can do a lot of different things here in Groningen like  attending the Jonge Harten Theater Festival and although it is not a very big city in Europe, this is really nice for students.’

The inhabitant from Berlin has  clear ideas about the utility of theater. ‘This kind of improvisation course is really important communication-wise because we have to improvise but there are also some techniques that are useful for real life.’ With a lot of enthusiasm, he explains how beneficial theater can be to deal with daily stuff such as presentations at university and interaction with people. However, a normal lesson of the improvisation course can also be a representation of a little piece of real life. Sometimes people are not ready for some situations but theater can give them the clue to get rid of some strange moments, because life is unforeseeable, like this course.

‘It is about comedy and improvisation, nothing is planned. Don´t think about anything, just do it’, Raik states as a motto for living against the rules established by social conventions. ‘We are programmed at university to think the whole day, to make no mistakes, but in the course you can do whatever you want, you can make mistakes. It is just not to think too much.’

Although it can seem easy, this is more difficult than you would think at first sight. ‘For me it is especially hard to control my laughing. This improvisation course is about comedy and we have to laugh sometimes, although sometimes it is necessary to stay quiet and serious because it will be more comic for the public. It is not easy to always control  the emotions and be serious sometimes and to laugh at other times .’

That is why the participants have been working for all these weeks to face up to the uncertainty of the unknown situation. ‘People should come this Thursday because it is all about fun and there is a bar and you can take a beer and relax.’ Moreover, the public will be able to contribute with their imagination during the performance:  ‘The spectator will be part of the scene because they will choose the topic of the scene, the place and which characters will appear. And then we will have to play it. Spectators won´t have to act, they will just be like the director.’

Throughout history, theater has been part of life. Since Aeschylus and Sophocles with their tragedies in Ancient Greece to the theater of 20th century full of hidden truths in the Theater of the Absurd with Samuel Beckett or Eugène Ionesco, society has expressed its fears, doubts and ironic view of life with words, images and movements. Today in USVA spectators will merge with the art of the improvisation and maybe they will be able to feel part of the joy the actors like Raik feel, having fun and discovering the creative part inside them: ‘When I do theater I feel nothing, but that is the point, not to think about it, it is an improvisation. But after it, I really feel good, happy and funny.’