Matthieu Poulet. Poulet means Chicken in French. This is a name for which you need a good dose
of self-irony to survive in the primary school courtyard.
I have lived -and worked- in London, near King's Cross since 2 years.
I am an IT (IT not ET) you know the weird people in the basement of your company : they are nice but they laugh at jokes nobody else finds funny and that look so desperate to talk to humans?
How did you discover improvisation?
By mistake! In one of the engineering schools I made in Paris (equivalent of uni) I went to a taster of a starting improv group. I originally wanted to join the theatre club, but then we were just 6 and if too many of us left they would have had to close the workshop, so I stayed. Out of generosity you could say... I have now stopped theatre, but I could not live without improv. When discovering imprology in London I came back to life!
How do you practice improvisation?
Like sex, preferably with others. Seriously, as a practice, imagining songs or scenes when riding my bicycle shortens the ride and it cannot harm -unless you forget your peripheral listening. A weekly workshop is a necessary training for me, like going running is for a marathon runner. With the core group of the first workshop of improv I did in Paris we created a show 6 years ago in Paris called “Les flibustiers de l'imaginaire”, it is still performing regularly, and I join them from time to time with them when possible. And I try to apply the principles of good improv to my day-to-day life.
How did you learn?
The hard way. Without knowing it.
Any advice for beginners?
I guess there is no recipe for a good improv, like there is no recipe for creation nor love. So when people tell you "have fun" or "listen carefully" "be sincere" or "it does not matter if it is crap" this does not really help you, because you don't decide to have fun, and it matters if it is crap for the personal ego, and sincerity and listening is necessary but not sufficient. Finding the flow, or letting it go, is definitely the most important thing maybe, as well as a hyper-developed listening to everything, the best way to prevent being out of track, This being said, one has also to keep believing in the ideas that come to one's head. Be generous but not too much, it does not help when one forgets oneself to the point of disappearing. Look the other improvisers in the eyes, and be aware that when it amuses you it is a good start.
What is your favourite improvisation quote?
My favorite improvisation quote is an image : imagine yourself the improviser on a stage with your partner in a scene. Imagine 3 scarves binding: you and the sky,
you and your partner, and you and the audience. The perfect state is when these three scarves are tensed, you are connected to these 3 dimensions. (Thank you Stephane one of my improv teachers for that image).I also like Goscinny's quote : " explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog, you understand it, but you killed it". It applies too well to improv.
What is the most satisfying story or scene you ever improvised in?
If there was one, I forgot it. The last one I can remember of having really enjoyed is a scene where I was supposed to kill a cage fighter because I was jealous of him. He was tall and I asked him if he had two minutes because I wanted to kill him. I played it low status and I wanted to avoid the traditional fight (boring improv, deja-vu) so I said that I was jealous because I loved him. Then I took him in my arms and stayed the rest of the scene stuck to him. He said he had a fight in 5 minutes but I would not let him go. There was an obvious comical tension in the embarrassment of everybody and the ridicule the situation. When this happens the scene is so easy to play that we almost need to do nothing. Everybody on stage fed the scene by their presence and small interventions, and they had the generosity of not trying to add more elements to it. In a way once we feel that the scene is there, less is more.
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