This life thing is hard.
I don’t know what age that sunk in for you, but for me I knew pretty early on that being alive is hard and that it wasn’t going to ever not be.
But ideas follow each other like dominos falling, and right after that initial realization came a second realization about what would make life beautiful and worth it: We don’t get through this alone.
We’re all in a struggle to love ourselves, to care for each other as best we can, and funnel our energies into making something great. Not famous or successful, but great by virtue of these creative endeavors fitting us well, consoling us, and offering joy to others.
So that’s what I always wanted. Some way to be a part of the wonderful thing.
In school, that is what easily captured my attention; the idea of a time or a placewhere people worked together to do something joyful and make something with a voice. I studied all kinds of movements- Dada, Lo-fi, Franciscans, Feminists, The Velvet Revolution, Fluxus, Afrocentrism.
It was tempting to wish that I’d been born at some other time or place. I wanted to party with Duchamp, Man Ray, and the Baroness Elsa von Freytag Loringhoven!
Any time I fit in with a group of friends I would yearn for us to all abandon everything else and just create a movement together. In high school my friends and I spent hours planning our commune. Yeah, I went to a weird high school. I was a bit crushed when it became obvious everyone would be moving away after graduation and exploring college and jobs instead of us becoming a creative force as a group. By the time I was in graduate school I was an expert on just how cool the moments in the past were, when groups of artists banded together to live differently, and how distant I was from that kind of community. I began to despair of ever having anything like that in my life. I could live creatively, I could throw some eccentric parties, and I could build a life with my partner – but I had no idea how to find that magical place where the next creative desire was being met, the community of freedom and creation.
I suppose, blog-reader, you might expect me to now proclaim “And then I found Improv!” but it wasn’t that simple. I did go looking for longform improv, and I found it. And I enjoyed myself. I liked doing scenes and I liked meeting funny people. However, that was about all that was going on where I started doing improv; folks having fun and competing to be funny. It wasn’t until nearly a year later when TNM was founded that something about the way I was involved with improv became “movement-like.”
What are the qualities of a movement?
Movements aspire. They are made of people who believe in change and have a deep desire to live or create differently. They are enamored of the present. They value the people within them and empower those people. Movements are unified. A movement can articulate why the people within it are thrilled to be part of it, what they yearn for as a group, and their principals: a movement is comprised of people who are not motivated by self-gratification or personal status. Movements take themselves a bit seriously. Even when they are forcefully absurd and fixated on humor, subversion, tearing down all the idols, movements have some fervor behind them. Movements belong to people. I know that I am defining the word “movement” in such a way that benevolent social and artistic movements are included while other violent movements (Nazis & Futurists, for example) are excluded, that is a bit naïve but totally intentional. Anyway, a real movement is something that fully belongs to the people of which it is comprised. Unlike a cult, a movement is the product, property, and passion of its people. They are exalted and empowered to be more than they would be by themselves and they’re all honored as creators and leaders.
The New Movement was founded with those kinds of ideas in mind. It has expanded and grown as a result of strength of aspiration, a unified creative process and goals, fervor for our shared vision, and above all a constant communal dedication to the elevation and empowerment of all of our people. We are relentless about joy, completely uninterested in drama or status, and forceful in our hustle. Improv will change because of what we’re doing here. Life will change because of what we’re doing.
The New Movement welcomes you.