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Response: Improv Everywhere

This assignment is in response to the “missions” found on Improv Everywhere’s website. Particular attention is given to the projects that seem to be done for no other reason than to conjure a smile from the audience lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. Some such missions are: Grand Central Lights, Say Something Nice, Conduct Us, High Five Escalator, Black Friday Dollar Store, Seeing Eye People, Carousel Horse Race, The Mute Button, and Talk Show Subway Car.

Mark Robert Barry
UH 210 – Studioless Art & the Creative Process
The University of Alabama

“There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior, like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Overview

In response to the “missions” by Improv Everywhere, collaborate as a class on a performance that includes the public—which at its core, will exist for the sole purpose of scattering joy.

Objectives

  • Expose students to creative collaboration.
  • Practice performance art.
  • Generate dialogue around the purpose(s) of art.
  • Scatter joy.

Implementation

Required Tools and Materials:

  • varies with project

Performance duration:

  • 15-45 minutes

Guidelines

  • Create a performance that aims to generate positive reactions (smiles) from the public.
  • Collaborate as a group to accomplish a shared goal
  • Perform on campus and for the public
  • Document the final performance with photographs and video

The performance should include the entire class. Some members of the class should be tasked with documentation (photography and video) while others are focused on the performance. All should play a role in conceptualizing and planning the piece.

Create the performance in a strategic location. Think about what you will create, but also where you will create. Consider things like visibility, exposure to elements, and pedestrian traffic. The performance and its location should be interdependent.

This performance should be about delightful abandon, not political or social statements. Consider this project a completely selfless work of art. The number of smiles generated is the greatest measure of its success.

Thoroughly photo/video-document the performance. These photographs and videos will be used in class for critique and continued sharing of the work. As the documentation is the only means of reliving the performance, make sure the photographs and videos are as well produced as possible.

Safety first. Do not create a scenario that is dangerous or potentially harmful for the performers or the audience.

Do not damage University property. The purpose of this project is to create pleasure. We will not be destructive.

Do not create anything permanent. Once the performance is concluded, all traces of it having ever existed should be cleaned up and discarded appropriately. Leave the performance area in better condition than you initially found it.

Evaluation

Students are evaluated with consideration to participation quality in the collaboration process, the performance, and in critique discussions.

Student Examples

Save the Quad Squirrels
Studioless Art, Fall 2014