Well, it’s done. WOW. The highlights, in no particular order:
1. Working with musical improv genius, Michael Pollock (pictured above). The two of us spent many, many hours one-on-one, making up so many improv songs that both of our minds began to fry AND I kid you not, I continue to be making up songs involuntarily in my brain before I even realise I am doing it. Does that even make sense? Possibly not. Point is, I learned so, so ridiculously much and as a bonus, Michael sent me home with reams of notes, exercises and ideas to continue on with back home here in Oz. Oh and he gave me piano lessons too, which I am ridiculously STOKED about.
This was always part of the plan (i.e. to help me develop my ability to accompany myself onstage for musical improv) but has the added benefit of making my playing sound so much better in general. It’s going to take time to develop these new habits, but if there’s one thing I’ve been particularly inspired by it’s how much can get done when you just put your butt to the seat and focus!
2. Gary Austin, Gary Austin, Gary Austin. Helen Hunt thanked him in her Oscar speech and now I have absolutely no musings as to why. The man is beyond brilliant. Again, we had dozens of hours one-on-one working on my solo stuff, which is intense to say the least. (I must point out here that this trip we had the good sense to spread the hours out with built-in breaks, unlike my trip in 2006 when I tried to cram 6 hours a day of one-on-one coaching for a week straight and my brain almost fell out of my head.)
As an unexpected bonus, I presented a work-in-progress showing of my one-woman show (within which my solo improv work comes into play) to a number of Gary’s improv students and community. I’m so happy with its development; I’m going to be announcing a Brissie show shortly, then it’s off to the Melbourne Fringe. I have more exciting news coming on this (mainly involving plans for 2012) so. You know. Hold onto whatever you’re sitting on.
3. Seeing SHOWS!!!!!!!
I spent as many nights as I was able hunting down improv show upon improv show to check out, analyse, savour and be inspired by. There really are too many to mention, so let me just throw in the one I have great photos of (courtesy of Gary Austin, whose wonderful newsletter you can check out here: Gary Austin Workshops – AUGUST Newsletter)
4. Hanging out with my super-inspiring and ridiculously jawsome friend (we met as room-mates at last year’s Improv Masterclass Retreat in New York), Natasha Perez. She is a person who I know I will be friends with until the day I die. We dragged each other to shows, geeked out on all things music, improv and combinations thereof, and chatted into many of the wee hours about dreams, big and small. LOVE her.
6. Having the whole trip capped off with the poetry of this guy sitting opposite me in the departure lounge:
This trip was made possible thanks to the Ian Potter Cultural Trust, a fantastic organisation that supports emerging artists to pursue professional development opportunities, usually overseas. More info: www.ianpotter.org.au