Noel Coward was Right!

Noel Coward was Right!

After viewing one of the “Kitchen Sink Dramas” that ruled in the West End after WWII, Noel Coward was asked what he thought of an actor’s performance that was famed for it’s spontaneity and improvisation.  “The only improvisation I like”, Coward replied, “comes with three weeks of rehearsal.”

Sir Noel Coward

I was reminded of this recently.  I was just starting the Fund-A-Need pitch when the popular and charismatic Director of the Organization walked by the stage.  I called him up, and asked for his input.  After a few seconds it became apparent that he did not know the where the F-A-N money was going.   OUCH!  I backtracked and gave my original pitch.  I don’t think that it cost the organization any money but the director feels bad, I feel bad and the reputation of the organization was ever so slightly tarnished.

It was my fault.  I had forgotten the golden rule.  On stage everything matters.  What would be insignificant in casual conversation becomes heightened when said on stage.

Everything needs to be rehearsed or at least planned.  At one event I watched a local anchorman start to tell a joke, realize that it was inappropriate, try to back track, dig a deeper hole for himself, and eventually end up revealing some things  that I am sure he would rather have remained private.

A microphone without a script is a dangerous tool.  The classic was a big donor who was being honored by an organization.  On taking the stage to receive his plaque, the donor, who had obviously fully appreciated the free Martini Bar, proceeded to tell everyone that he hated the organization and only gave the money to placate his wife, who, unfortunately could not be there that evening.

One of rules at Reynolds & Buckley is that we avoid “gunslinger” events, where we just come in and do the auction without the prior consulting and planning.  I hope this portion of our service is of use to our clients, but I know for a fact that it is essential to us.  If we do not assimilate your message and goals, a process that takes time, and then practice repeating them in our own words, we will not be able to communicate them clearly and believably to your audience.

A great improv group creates spontaneity through playing theater games.  As a group you learn each others strengths and weaknesses.  You have the time to develop characters and skills that the group learns to depend on.

In other words improvisation can improve with three weeks of rehearsal.

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