Thursday, 21 October 2010

A talk with Halling

This summer, I interviewed Tomas Halling, dadaist and improv performer. You can listen to our entire talk and download it at this location:

Tomas Hallings performs his show XgLosCho2 on Teater Sesam, Gothenburg, Sweden this weekend. (Friday, saturday and sunday at 19.00)

The entire interview is in swedish. Originally I had intended to film the entire event and include english subtitles, but technology was not on my side, so I settled for this. What I will do though, is publish a few themes here that emerged from the interview. I wont write a lot on each, just let the quotes themselves sink in.


AAC: "You're self-taught, how did you find improvisation?"

TH: "The word that springs to my mind is survival, pure survival. You have to find yourself a world that works for you, where you can do what you like, express what you like, and feel exactly what you like"


On freeform improv:
TH: "And it doesn't have to lead anywhere, anytime, you don't have figure out where it is supposed to be going"
AAC: "And there is a freedom in that"
TH: "Yes, it is the complete freedom. (exhaling puff) It's bungeejumping without a cord." 

"You can do anything - and that's fun! It struck me just now - "Of course you can", of course I can do that, if I want to build seventy-eight galaxies, then I'll do just that. It's super simple... but it doesn't work at the employment center (laughter)"


On word association: TH: "It can never be captured, never domesticated. Put a false tiger in a cage - what am I saying? (laughter) That's what I'm talking about. Well, everything wild you put in captivity - It dies."

You can not force creativity out of someone else, that's a pet peeve of mine in traditional roleplaying which has a guy not conducting, but rather demanding creativity from the other players.

There is something here you can find in the moment in improv, that just isn't there in something that is planned and prepared.


AAC: "People always want to have some kind of insight in what's going to happen. You wish to understand, you wish to know what the conditions are. It's so important to provide a clarity in this"
TH: "Clarity, that's it, right! To give clarity to the wildness"
TH: "Is there anything more explicit and clear than a wild animal?"

I spoke a lot about the meeting and the meeting of audience and performer. By being clear, you are there, open and present, but oftentimes we are obtuse and unclear with our wishes and our intentions. I think it's a form of defense.


TH: "You pretend to be confident. Before, I used to think "If I'm in the blackout, liberate me into the complete abyss", my improv always looked like I was hanging in an endless chasm, and it was great performance."
TH: "The more you stayed in it, the better it was"

I have always imagined that all creativity stems from a sense of security, knowing that the scary parts aren't really dangerous, but Tomas describes how pure insecurity could actually fuel his performance. Makes me think of locus of control - If it feels like you're being annihilated by the abyss, but you also believe in your capability to beat it, survive it, perhaps that channels into a great performance? Man will survive.

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