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I like Ramen or inside the Improv Dojo


Pan Theater | Where Neurons Fire Faster


I recently had lunch at the Ramen Dojo in San Mateo. I loved the name of the location and the lunch was good too.

They are masters of Ramen. They practice in a special place dedicated to the creation of Ramen.

They practice: Ramen Do. The way of Ramen.

At Pan Theater we practice: Improv Do (perhaps more technically Improv Theater Do).

Improv Do

The art of unscripted theater. Theater created on the spot and without a script. The opposite would be: scripted work. Making it up as you go along.

An art, way or method.

improv do

Improv Do (Sokkyodo):
The art or way of making theater without a script. The practice of those that perform theater without a script and how it leads to a way of life.

A place of practice. A place where the way of an art is cultivated, preserved and followed.

At Pan Theater we approach improv in the same way. We practice in a special place: the theater. Or perhaps now we will call it the Improv Dojo.

improv dojo

At Pan, for our performers improv often becomes a part of life. Improv becomes a practice. Members of the theater practice weekly and perform on a regular basis.

The weekly practice helps one cultivate the spirit of improv in everyday life.

For Pan Theater the spirit of improv includes:

Saying  yes…  assuming the best rather than the worse.

Saying yes, rather than blocking, or negating.

Taking chances and accepting failure as part of the process without attachment or self punishment.

Accepting and supporting ourselves and our fellow performers.

Being aware of the truth of the moment and responding to that moment.

Being aware of our emotions and accepting them rather than judging them.

Working in collaboration with our scene partners rather than competition.

The way of improv also includes:

Regular practice.

Sitting with the moment or feeling. Or staying in duration and holding on to your “stuff.”

Accepting that we will not always succeed in the way, but that is as it should be.

The moment is perfect in its imperfection.

Some of the things that we struggle with in Improv Do

The need to: be good, funny, perfect or interesting.

The anxiety of the performer (and of being human)

That is….the fear of the unknown and the need to rush into the known rather than accepting the now. We seek the illusionary safety of control.

The need to: be in control and rush to the safety of knowing rather than accepting the now.

Pan has been heavily influenced by the work of Viola Spolin (author of Improvisation for the Theater) as taught by Doug Kassel, Meisner Technique as taught by Christy from the Bay Area Acting Studio, and David Razowsky’s approach to improv (please check out the videos of his interview at Pan).

Improv is life changing, life affirming and transformative on both the personal and group level. For those at Pan it is a way. Sokkyodo the way of improv.

Notes and References:

What's Talent by Doug Kassel

Kiss the Lizard by Doug Kassel

The Razowsky Interviews on the Pan Theater Blog

Improvisation for the Theater by Viola Spolin

Sanford Meisner on Acting by Dennis Longwell

Pan improv comedy shows for the Bay Area.
Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and 9pm

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