by Rhiannon Vivian
‘Eliminate self motivation and take care of each other,’
– Jorin Garguilo, the ‘Space Hippie’
After years of invaluable training and trying out different methods, schools of playing, tools, tricks and tips (all of which chug away in your subconscious) in recent times I’ve ended up actively focusing on just one thing with my improv: maximum positivity. I don’t know where or why it started, but I’ve been very much enjoying it and will probably carry on. I’m hoping that all the other wonderful, technical and seriously useful techniques I’ve learned (a grin alone can’t carry things) will infuse my play without me realising. And instead I’ve made it my active mission in every show to punch for the positive, with full knowledge that if you aim for 100% positivity you will always fall short, as we’re humans, but hopefully that ‘falling short’ will still make for a more positive scene than if you aimed for ‘normal’.
In doing this I’ve definitely noticed a few things. The number of head butting, argumentative, repetitive and sticky scenes I’m in has decreased. But also the diversity of scenes, places and characters seems to have increased. Which is very cool. I’ve gone places in scenes I don’t think I would have before, which is fascinating. Such is my positive evangelism at the moment, I’ve even created an entire improv workshop in honour of agreement and happiness, so valuable I think it is. In eight years of training and performing I feel like I’ve finally found my anchor.
This is where Chicago improviser and self confessed ‘Space Hippie’ Jorin Garguilo comes in. I basically couldn’t have asked for a timelier coach for our first day of the Maydays Chicago improv workshop intensive. His positive, genuine, insightful attitude couldn’t have aligned more perfectly with both my current brain state and also the daft, inclusive nature of the Maydays as a group. I wonder – can we make Jorin our mascot?
Before we began, I learned that Jorin was going to work with us on group mind. Now, I believe you can play with people for years, get to know them, get to love them and their way of playing but no one is a mind reader. I mean I have no idea what I’m going to do next in a scene often, so how is my fellow player going to know? What I love about Jorin is the first thing he said to us was, ‘there’s no such thing as group mind.’ Hallelujah! But what he did do, and I can’t pinpoint exactly how because he’s basically a genius, is manage to pull us even closer together as a group (I mean we already share beds at festivals and I’m pretty sure we’re all the same blood group…) His infectious positivity and outlook on life managed to spark some little epiphanies in all of our brains. Or the way I like to look at it, our brains are all rambling mansions with many rooms. With improvisers the attic is already unlocked and ransacked, but Jorin just yelled from a spiral staircase, ‘the attic is good guys, but have you seen the DUSTY TURRET ROOM?!’ Yep. When you get another room in your brain-house unlocked, you know you’re onto some good shit.
‘Your genre is you’
One of my biggest takeaways from Jorin’s day was when he spoke to us about our sensibilities. He asked us individually what do we like playing? What do we enjoy doing on stage? Instead of giving notes where we should try something different (also useful in improv workshops, but often quite heady and definitely not one for whipping up instant, collective joy) he said our group mission for the next bunch of scenes was to individually please everyone. For me it was a dream. I got to tell the group that I love playing animals, teenagers or inanimate objects (no big secret, but great to have it officially out there) and all the Maydays did the same with the things they like to do. Interestingly, and rather shockingly, some of it I didn’t know already (see? I told you he was good). For all of us, knowing we could do as much of the thing we loved as we wanted, and the team would actively make it happen for us was pure joy and so much fun. In fact, just writing it makes me want to cry with happiness. People ‘yes and-ing’ your specific weirdness? Yes please. People validating you for simply being you? Oh my goodness, yes. Balm for the human condition. And you can’t underestimate what this does for group moral, happiness and connection too. By the end of the run, we were practically a one-headed Mayday Monster.
We learned so much form Jorin, so many new and awesome techniques, warm-ups, exercises and so on but what we took away is the most important thing, and that was fun, joy and a fantastic connection that’s taken our playing to another level. We walked out of class that day a little lighter, calmer and more inspired. And to quote Jorin one last time: ‘do what makes you happy and other people happy too. Remember everyone’s things they like to do. The more you give the more you receive.’
This is Jorin, moments after we showered him with compliments at the end of our first day. He didn’t know what to do with himself, which was truly lovely. If you get the chance, train with him. And if you’re in Chicago go and see him in Revolver and Felt.
Thanks, Jorin! Love from your London Space Hippies.
Check out our chat with Jorin here.