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On Improvisation

Nine Conversations with Roberto Ciulli


Malgorzata Bartula and Stefan Schroer

Roberto Ciulli is one of the most exciting and provocative theatre directors of our time. In these conversations he expounds the transformative ideas on theatrical improvisation which have challenged actors and audiences alike to rethink what they understand the nature of theatre practice to be. Using examples from more than twenty years of innovative performances with the Theater an der Ruhr, he describes the workshop process, the long-term personal commitment, and the political and aesthetic concepts driving his view of theatre as an agent of social change. His pioneering espousal of internationalisation as a basic principle of contemporary theatre work has won him great acclaim, particularly for his intercultural «Silk Road Project» with theatre companies in Central Asia.
«It is not possible for us to know what the next three minutes will bring. You know certain things, but the space for improvisation in one human being’s day is immeasurably greater. Even if what you are doing is routine, and one might say you have no free space to improvise – precisely at that point you notice that improvisation is taking place here too. You do the same thing every morning, and yet it is not the same. You perform the same actions, but they are different.» (Roberto Ciulli)
These conversations have been translated by Geoffrey Davis, who teaches at the University of Aachen.
Contents: First Conversation: Freedom in Prison – Second Conversation: The Age of Apes – Third Conversation: A Better Prison – Fourth Conversation: Life Is the Most Difficult Art – Fifth Conversation: Life Belongs to the Actor – Sixth Conversation: Working on the Creation of Something New in the Green Fields – Seventh Conversation: Theatre for the Outsider – Eighth Conversation: Myself as a Member of the Audience – Ninth Conversation: A Global Effect – Helmut Schäfer - Invitation to the Dream – Roberto Ciulli - Biographical Data – The Theatre an der Ruhr.