A few days ago, I received a call from a potential student who was interested in knowing more about the philosophy of The YES! Lab, as well as future dates for workshops. What really threw me most was his following question:
I saw on your website you have an entire page filled with links to your competition.
Why would you do that?
I was taken aback; I don't think of it that way. Each "competitor" that I've listed on The YES! Lab's web page under the Player Resources section has a different philosophy of how to approach the art form. I'm a firm believer that if you love improv enough, you will want to become a well-rounded performer, thus making the commitment to study in as many institutions and from as many different instructors as possible. I didn't open The YES! Lab with the thought that I was doing this to compete with anyone, but to simply offer our way of looking at the work--as another option for students who wanted more.
I am confused by the thought that someone may perceive The YES! Lab as competition, or that potential students may think the same thing. How can one institution's approach compete with another's when we are all different people with varying successful methods for training improvisers? The only similarity should be our end result: to further each student's ability to play successfully.
The YES! Lab doesn't own improv, nor does anyone else in Denver, Miami, Phoenix, Austin, New York, Chicago or the rest of the universe, for that matter. If this were the case, certainly Second City wouldn't have had Mick Napier, co-founder of Annoyance Theater, directing some of the most incredible Main Stage shows they've had in recent years. And Susan Messing wouldn't be able to teach at each of the main institutions in Chicago: iO, Annoyance and Second City. The list of instructors in Chicago and around the country who teach and perform in various places in the same city is long. Why does Denver have to be any different? Communities are built by coming together, not segregating. Modern history has proven that one over and over.
In much the same way that different styles of music appeal to individuals on various levels, so do different styles of teaching improv. I invite you to create your library of knowledge based on what styles of improv appeal to you.