Improvisation is a form of Western performance in which actors and actresses improvise the flow of a story in front of an audience, without any planning or practice. This means the actors have to concentrate extra hard while performing. They also need to have a certain genius and creative talent for this type of performance.
Angkoor Improvisation is a new form of the art, bringing a new twist to the Cambodian art scene. It was brought here by Alex, a Cambodian-French man who spent some time learning improvisation while living in France. He and his friends have launched the troupe to bring improvisational comedy to Cambodia.
Alex had planned to hold a two-month improvisation workshop to impart his skills and experience to participants. “But because the training went so well, we continued the workshop for another three months. So we’ve been practising for five months now,” he says.
Alex says he formed Ankoor Improvisation to foster the exercise of enjoyment for his troupe, and to put a distinctly Cambodian spin on a typically Western style of theatre. “We didn’t form the troupe to gain popularity or become famous,” he explains.
But, with encouragement from friends and audiences, Ankgoor Improvisation decided to appear for their first show at a party, after completing those five months of intensive training.
“We are not professional performers, but we were brave enough to appear for our first performance at a friend’s party,” Nita, one of the troupe’s members, says.
According to Nita, after their first performance the troupe began to gain a following, and were soon invited to perform their first formal gig at Gasolina nightclub, as well as at the premiere of the movie Boyfriend at the Centre Culture of France.
Mr. Lino, another performer with Angkoor, explains that all the actors involved need to be fluid and dynamic, reacting quickly and feeding off one another’s jokes. If anyone slips up or goes blank, it could disrupt the flow of the performance.
“The main key in improvisational acting is to respond quickly to connect your performance with another actor’s, because you never know exactly how your fellow performers will act,” Mr Lino says.
“When we’re on stage, we have only 20 or 30 seconds to think about what we’re doing in mid-performance.”
For the second formal Angkoor show at the CCF, the troupe poked fun at the dynamics of a movie shoot.
They let the audience provide them with the title for a movie and, with only a made-up title to go on, they launched into an improvisation of the movie’s production that had the audience in stitches.