Directed not only toward actors, dancers, and other performing artists who draw upon improvisation as part of their craft, this Zen-infused memoir of a life lived creatively will pique the interest of anyone in search of liberation from self-limiting concepts. What does it mean to live in a body? What does it mean to improvise? Do we wonder whether we’re capable of improvising—to make up things as we go, step into the unknown, take a risk that changes our notion of ourselves and the world?
Author Ruth Zaporah has been a professional physical theater performer, writer, director, and teacher for forty years. Early on she realized that with a shift of perception, every moment of an improvisation holds both the familiar and the utterly new. With the same shift, so does every moment of life; every moment holds both the known and the unknown. And, as Zaporah says, “The body leads the way in this book. In each chapter the world is experienced by it and of it. It is the body that adds richness, wildness, and grace. The body invokes images and feelings. It is the body that imagines.”
Improvisation on the Edge recounts events from Zaporah’s life such as improvisational shows in the war zones of Sarajevo and Kosovo; apprenticing with a Huichol medicine woman from Chiapas, Mexico; understanding the concept of “practice” while on a beach; a bus ride in Cuba; a car ride in Estonia; the intricacies of onstage collaborations. Interspersed are chapters about awareness, listening, adapting, resiliency, time, space, silence, simplicity—all within the context of everyday life in the body. In several other chapters, Ruth writes from the logical (and nonlinear) voice of the improviser as she is on stage, within the immediate embodied process. A fascinating glimpse into the mind of an artist and true master of improvisation, this book will appeal to performers, teachers, and anyone who has ever needed to “wing it” with confidence and grace.
Table of Contents
1. Something That Needs Listening To 2. Mirror Mirror 3. On My Wall 4. Tutu Solitude 5. A Mind in Three Episodes 6. A Splish Splash Orchestra 7. A Take on Talk 8. Bobby’s River 9. Roar 10. Meet Yourself Babe 11. Nuts and Bolts 12. Out of Chaos 13. Changing Course 14. The Flying Shaman 15. You Could Say Death 16. Ain’t It The Truth 17. The Raging Boomerang 18. See This Feel That 19. Stalking War 20. Your Mother Just Died Christina, Leave the Backdoor Open 21. The Illusive Genture 22. A Pack of Lies 23. Again Gun and Boys 24. A Ride in Estonia 25. Art and Heart 26. Floating to the Surface 27. Stuffed With Junk 28. A Chair in Cuba 29. Any Where Practice 30 Teacher Says 31. Older and Under