After more than a year and a half, I made the call it’s time to leave one of my improv teams. It’s the first time I’ve bailed on an improv venture I’ve invested so heavily in.
Every so often you should check in with yourself. Why are you involved with your groups? Are you growing as an artist or as a person? Are your shows challenging or fun? Is the team evolving? Are the people around you as dedicated as you are?
In my most rewarding improv experiences, my teams have supported me on stage and off. We’ve traveled together. We’ve shared holidays and parties. We’ve become friends with more than improv in common.
In my most painful improv experiences, groups have had poor commitment, poor on-stage support, a lack of direction and a lack of growth.
I’m leaving this particular group because we’re not getting enough performance opportunities to justify our rehearsal schedule and I’m getting more directing gigs than I can handle. There’s no point in asking a team to wait for me for several months while I wade through my workload.
Right now, many of you reading this are overextended. You’re on four teams at four theaters with two independent teams and a sketch show on the back burner. I don’t doubt that some of you can juggle that. Most can’t. Your time comes at a cost, either to your personal life or to your other performance groups.
Here’s how to deal with improv overload.
1) Prioritize. Pick the group(s) that are most rewarding to you. Put them first. If you take on additional commitments, inform them up front that they will lose out on conflicts. And really, if it’s going to be an ongoing conflict, don’t commit to that new group.
2) Assess your needs. Do you need stage time? Do you need to take a class? Do you need to write? Do you need a break? Look at your “career” and decide what’s best for your right now. Improv will always be there if you want to come back. Make sure you’re making the most of your time.
3) Trim the fat. Yes, it’s hard to let go. But if you have obligations that are preventing you from reaching your potential, it’s time to break free.
Why are you improvising? Do you want to get famous? Do you just want to express yourself? Are you just killing time? Do you want to improve? What is your end goal? Make sure you’re always moving toward that.
I hold the members of my former group in high esteem. But I’m making the hard call to move forward. I suspect it’s the best thing for all of us. If I can’t commit 100%, I should step aside.