Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Top 10 Reasons Gender Shouldn't Matter in Improv

I've been studying improv for several months now. Tonight in my class I found out that another school has a strict policy against playing characters of the opposite gender (the school I attend does not). I don't know if I'm allowed to curse in this blog, so let's just say that I think that policy is no good. Here are the Top 10 Reasons Gender Shouldn't Matter in Improv:

10) Sexist much?

9) What a weird policy. Until I heard that, the idea that that policy would exist somewhere never even crossed my mind.

8) I think of improv as similar to writing, it's just collaborative writing in front of an audience. Writers write characters of both genders... so why not play them?

7) Playing characters only of your own gender is limiting. What next? Playing characters of only your age? Your occupation? (A Harold where all the characters are 20-something actors would be pretty boring.)

6) Improv is all about making choices and going with what inspires you. If I'm watching a scene and it's a perfect time for the dad to show up, it wouldn't help the piece for me to just stand on the sidelines and let that opportunity go by because I am not a man.

5) Improv teams are not necessarily made up of the exact right number of male and female players to have everyone play a character of his/her own gender in a scene.

4) Improv is acting. You don't have to be a drug addict to play one, so why do you need to be a man to play one?

3) Improv is all about imagination. There are no sets, no props and no costumes. If a girl in jeans and a t-shirt can play a believable ballerina, why would she not be believable as a frat boy?

2) Some may argue that women shouldn't play male characters and vice versa because it would confuse the audience, but the audience never seems to have a problem with people playing robots, aliens, trees, or any other non-humans.

1) As far back as Shakespeare's time (maybe farther back, I don't know), men were playing female characters, so this policy feels very misogynistic... sort of a "polite" way to say women aren't capable of playing male characters because women aren't funny.

1 comment:

  1. I don’t know what school prohibits playing the opposite gender but I doubt it’s a “policy” or even sexist in nature. I study at UCB and they have their methods, structures and improv rules for their reasons. The same must be true at this other place. I think they are just trying to keep their scenes contained somehow. The important question to ask is: “Is that rule conducive to more successful and funnier scenes?” Like you, I say probably not.