I discovered improvisational theater a few years ago when I signed up to an introductory workshop (by Improgrupp Jaa!, then one of the two existing troupes in Estonia). That experience completely rocked my boat and I was hooked, instantly. By now I’m a somewhat-experienced improviser who tries to learn, laugh and teach whenever the opportunity presents itself.
My mandatory eleven months in the military began in July, 2013. This meant quitting my life for a while, including improv – for the first month, anyway.
The idea of starting an improv team in the barracks with a cast of soldiers came as a surprise. It was crazy, it was unheard of and it just happened.
There are no mistakes… in military hierarchy?
This just seems like a paradox doesn’t it, something that can not be: on the one hand you have strict military discipline where men are taught to stand still, be alert, fear errors and above all, be a man, on the other there’s improv where the first rule is that nothing you do is a mistake. How can those two worlds coexist?
I found that such contrast actually provides much needed release. The men still remember how to be a civilian, all you have to do is provide a safe environment where play can emerge. Then there’s only the usual barrier of getting people to relax and open up.