If a singer’s instrument is her voice, an improviser’s instruments are her mind and body. Both must be kept fit and ready to move quickly. I am increasingly aware that my physical condition has a big impact on what I can do in improv, affecting what I am able to do with my body and my mind. Right now, for example, if I am edited while on the floor, I can’t clear the stage quickly, making my teammates wait – not long, but long enough to interrupt the flow of the piece. And my chronic sleep deprivation definitely has a big impact on my mental fitness. I need to take better care of my instruments if I intend to move forward in my play.
I have noticed a very positive trend in the way I think about scenes I’ve done. I no longer agonize over scenes I am unhappy about (and there are sooo many of those). Instead, I think about other choices I might have made to make the scene more fun or move it forward. And when I am happy with a scene, I don’t just say to myself “That was fun. You did that right” and move on. I still think about other choices I might have made to make the scene fun or move it forward. The choices are infinite, and exercising the mental muscles to learn to recognize them is an important step toward mental fitness.